War in the Pacific: Outbreak of the War
Pre-War Guam: 1941
One could imagine Guam truly being an idyllic
paradise in a by-gone era, complete with thick, lush coconut groves,
clear blue skies, crystal clear aqua ocean waters, and white sandy
beaches. Life on pre-war Guam mirrored this idyllic setting: family,
church, and village life styles were vital components in Guam's Chamorro
Family ties were strong and parents instilled
discipline among their children; respect was inherent between members of
the immediate family and was extended to elders within the community.
The prosperity of a man's family, before the war, depended literally on
the fruits of his labors. There was no form of work he was ashamed to
do, and he encouraged this in his children the same attitudes.
Three Chamorro women pose tor the camera
in this pre-war photograph.
Guam's 1940 population was over 22,000 people. Guam's
capital, Agana, was a beehive of social and political activity. People
lived in thatch-roofed houses alongside important political buildings,
lending a close-knit atmosphere. Families would form together,
cultivating such staple foods as coconut, breadfruit, kapok, lime and
mango. Supplementing produce were chickens, pigs, cattle, and
The Guam Insular Force Band and the Guam
Militia parade through Agana.
Chamorros were not only farmers, but like their
ancient ancestors, were excellent navigators and fishermen. Fishing was
a community activity and the catch of the day was shared within the
villages. There were over 200 outrigger canoes, called proa, a
sleek designed ship considered very efficient by the envious Spanish
explorers who first plied the Pacific waters in the sixteenth
A US. Marine stands in front of the Pan
American Airways office in this 1938 photograph.
Pan American Airways clipper, flying to
various locations throughout the Pacific, flew into Sumay's
Chamorro farmers and fishermen knew not of the
increasing political tensions between the United States and Japan as the
dusk of 1941 approached. The increased volatility between the two
nations eventually leads to the evacuation of all U.S. dependents and
civilians on Guam. By October 17, the evacuation was completed with the
exception of an officer's wife who was confined for childbirth. After
receiving warning messages on December 6, the Navy Department ordered
all classified materials destroyed.
On December 7, 1941, the USS Goldstar was
preparing to leave the Philippines enroute to Guam but was delayed by
the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet because of the intensified
international situation between the United States and Japan. The
Goldstar never arrived on Guam.
This pre-war photograph of Agana shows
the Plaza de Espana (center) and the Dulce de Nombre Maria cathedral