LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
Guam scouts guide Marines, infantry
By TINA D. AGUON
"It was raining very hard that morning. The jungle
was dense with tall grass. Then suddenly I was surrounded by American
soldiers who yelled 'Halt !' and I immediately put my hands into the
Jesus Toves Lizama was recalling his personal
liberation of 1944. Just 15 years old, he was on an errand for his
father and he was to take a basket of shrimp and trade it for salt with
Little did he know at that time that he was about to
take on a responsibility of great significance: serve as guide and lead
a unit of Army troops to where Japanese soldiers were hiding out.
Neither did Lizama know that as a civilian scout, he
assisted in the liberation of hundreds of Chamorros at the Manengon
"I was angry, angry that my father sent me on a trek
to trade a basket of shrimp for sale with the Japanese. Why me when
there were others who were much bigger and stronger?," Lizama said. He
now realized that his father had given him the charge because he was the
only one in a group of about 40 Chamorros hiding in the jungle of
southern Guam who spoke Japanese fluently.
He went on to say that when he encountered the
Americans, he was bombarded with such questions as "Are you a native? Do
you like the Americans? Are you willing to go with the Americans? From
now on, you are in the hands of the Americans."
The Americans took the basket of shrimp and sent two
soldiers to the area where Lizama's group was hiding. They told the
boy not to worry about the salt, and that they were going to evacuate
his family and friends.
Lizama then led the group of soldiers to Manengon.
Upon arrival, four Japanese soldiers were sighted but fled from the
area. Lizama recalled that the Chamorros were so happy and excited upon
seeing the Americans that when they were told to stay low, they refused
to listen. "One man ran and hid behind a tree nearby. Seeking refuge, a
Japanese soldier ran up behind him and hid. Because the Japanese soldier
was fully armed, the Americans had no choice but to shoot him, killing
the Chamorro as well," Lizama sadly recalled. "The bullet went right
Another civilian guide was Jesse Perez, then a
19-year-old Yigo man who joined a Marine patrol through pure
coincidence. Perez was with 10 Japanese soldiers transporting food
supplies and ammunition.
They were enroute to Yigo, but when they reached the
Pago Tai road junction, the young man saw an American soldier about
50 yards away. He simply switched sides, sneaking
away from the Japanese party and joining the American patrol.
The patrol wiped out the Japanese and they proceeded
toward Mangilao, with Perez accompanying them as their guide. He was now
armed with a carbine. The Marines were part of Company A, 21st Regiment,
3rd Marine Division.
Perez would later be wounded in Chaguian, Yigo,
during a blistering fight with a large group of Japanese. "I was shot
under my left armpit, a bullet piercing into my body and ripping my
kidney," he remembered. "A second bullet is still lodged between my
ribs. My arm muscle was smashed."
Perez was hospitalized for more than a year and had
to be evacuated to Mare Island for medical attention. A snake muscle was
used to mend his left arm. "The bullet in my ribs is encased in copper,
and to this day, I must avoid electric shocks," Jessie said.
The experiences of Lizama and Perez were among many
stories told about the civilian scouts. As American troops penetrated
inland, their initial contacts were usually Chamorros. These native
guides, familiar with the terrain of the island, led troops into the
jungles to seek out Japanese hideouts.
Although never officially recruited, the civilian
scouts were volunteers who became a part of the various combat and
infantry units. Without them, the troops would have had difficulty
accomplishing their mission.
Other Chamorro guides included Felix Wusstig with the
7th Armored Division, John Leddy with the 24th Armored Division, and
Fred Taitano with the 5th Marine Brigade.
As quoted in "Guam Operations of the 77th Division
(21 July-10 August 1944) Historical Division, U.S. War Department:" The
mission of getting more intelligence about enemy strength in southern
Guam fell to the 77th Reconnaissance Troop, which would move out on foot
and search the ridge south of Mt. Alifan to Umatac, and the eastern
coastal area between Ylig Bay and Talofofo ... five patrols of about
five men each, with native guides, would penetrate six miles each way
south and east of Alifan into unknown territory."
Civilian guides pointed out enemy defense positions
as the Army 77th Infantry Division, the 3rd Marine Division, and the
1st Provisional Marine Brigade moved north to Barrigada and then on to
Finegayan, Yigo, and Mt. Santa Rosa.
They combed through the foliage, foot by foot, to
hunt out enemy snipers. The aid of the civilian scouts continued to be
employed by the various military units throughout the pursuit phase up
through Aug. 10, when the island was declared secured.
However, even after that date, many civilian scouts
independently grouped together on their own and continued to comb the
island for Japanese stragglers.
28 July 1944
In Guam, two American invasion forces link up at Mount Tenjo. With
the final beachline secured, U.S. troops advance to the north, chasing
retreating enemy soldiers.
The Stars and Stripes flies over the
beachhead at Agat as Marines secure the area. After successfully facing
down a counterattack by Japanese forces, the Marines and then infantry
of the Army's 77th Division began moving to consolidate its lines with
those of the 3rd Marine Division which had landed in Asan.|
Guam's typical rains in July made it rough going for Marines as they
trekked through jungles in search of Japanese soldiers fleeing from the
Marines make their way past a creek and up an embankment in the drive to
push the Japanese northward. Possessing maps of poor quality and
traveling through unfamiliar territory, both the Marines and Army
infantry utilized local scouts as guides through Guam's jungles and
9 August 1944
The Battle of Aitape in Papua New Guinea ends after a month of
fighting. Unable to capitalize on a breakthrough of Allied lines,
Japanese troops under General Adachi Hatazo falter, then are fatally
enveloped in a counterattack. More than 10,000 Japanese soldiers perish
in the last battle of Papua New Guinea.
Marines take cover behind tanks as
Japanese soldiers create a crossfire endangering them. After
counterattacks at Orote and particularly at the Asan-Piti beachhead
proved to be costly in terms of men and weaponry, Japanese units were
forced north, many units in disarray but still determined to fight the
enemy to the death (top).|
On the 31st of July, 1944, men of the 77th Infantry Division reach the
front lines but the end of the road. The road was bulldozed into the
hills and mountains of Guam by troops with the 302nd Engineer Combat
10 August 1944
General Roy Geiger declares Guam secure by American forces. Military
officials are now tasked with two duties: providing care to war-ravaged
island residents and molding Guam as a staging area for naval and air
operations against Japan.