War in the Pacific: The First Year
A Guide to
the War in
the Pacific
History of Outbreak

Pre-War Guam: 1941

The Insular Force Guard

Japan's Pacific Gamble

The Chamorro

Sailors and Ships


War in the Pacific: Outbreak of the War

The Insular Force Guard: Three Days in December

During the early morning hours of December 8, 1941, United States Navy Captain George J. McMillin, Governor of Guam, received word that Pearl Harbor had been secretly attacked by the Japanese. Attempts to evacuate the civil population began in earnest. Orders were given to arrest and jail all Japanese nationalists. A few hours later, at 8:27 a.m., Saipan-based Japanese dive bombers appeared over Guam, dropping bombs on the Marine Barracks at Sumay. The Pan American Airways Hotel received a direct hit, killing several employees. The bombing and strafing continued. The USS Penguin was hit outside Apra Harbor. Although the crew put up a fight, she was soon scuttled. The Penguin had the largest guns on Guam.

The USS Robert L. Barnes was also hit, opening several large holes in her hull. The next target, the radio station at Libugon, was struck and dismantled. At this time, Guam's only military defense consisted of 153 Marines, 271 U.S. Navy personnel, 134 civilian construction workers, and 247 members of the local militia and the Insular Forces. The Insular Force Guard unit, as it was referred to on Guam, was hastily resurrected by the U.S. Navy in April, 1941, to defend Guam. Guardsmen were neither well-trained nor properly armed. These men were under the command of Chief Petty Officer Robert Bruce Lane. They, along with a few members of the regular U.S. Navy, were ordered to meet in Agana to prepare for the defense of the Plaza de Espana, their main objective, which housed Governor McMillins' Palace and Marine Barracks.

Governor's Palace and kiosk
The Governor's Palace and kiosk prior to the Japanese attack and invasion.

While Japanese planes wreaked havoc upon the island, Chamorros were at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral in Agana, attending mass in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Panic among the population followed the news of the first air raids over Sumay. Thousands of Chamorro civilians evacuated Agana, which they believed would next be bombed. In the early afternoon hours, the city had become a ghost town.

By dawn's break on December 9, thunder could be heard as the Japanese planes returned. They continued to bombard and strafe the naval bases, as well as damaging the Marine Barracks, the Pan American Airways installation, and the Navy Yard at Piti.

Meanwhile, at the northern end of the island, a patrol arrested a boat of three men who claimed to be natives of Saipan.

During questioning, the men informed the Guam police that the Japanese had sent them to serve as interpreters when their landing forces were to arrive the next day near east Agana. The informers were then taken and confined in jail.

On Orote Peninsula the Marines took up positions at the rifle range on the Marine Reservation. Between 80 and 100 Insular Force Guards men assembled at the Agana headquarters and prepared to defend the Plaza de Espana.* The garrison had no artillery, only a few .30-caliber Lewis machine guns and various small arms. A 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifle was the standard issue, yet these weapons were scarce.

*Research is pending concerning the exact numbers of Insular Force Guardsmen recruited by the U.S Navy.

When the Japanese landed early on December 10, they met head-on with fleeing Chamorro civilians at Apurguan. For reasons unknown, thirteen men, women, and children where fired upon and killed.

Flares were reportedly seen at Dungca's Beach and Tumon Bay, indicating the invasion had begun. A special Japanese naval landing party of about 400 men from Saipan's 5th Defense Force began landing at Dungca's Beach in Agana Bay. Simultaneously, a 5,500-man Japanese Army unit of the South Seas Detachment landed on the beaches of Apurguan, Tumon, Togcha, Agat, and other areas throughout the island.

The Insular Guard*

Aguigui, DionicioNS2c
Aguigui, JoseNS2c
Aguon, Jesus IgnacioNS1c
Aguon, Pedro IriarteNS2c
Aguon, Vicente CruzNS2c
Aguon, Vicente F.NS2c
Aguon, Vicente Laman
Anderson, Jesus Cruz
Bamba, Jesus MarianoNS2c
Barcinas, Joaquin CruzNS2c
Benavente, Tomas QuichochoNS2c
Borja, Eugenio BorjaNS2c
Borja, Jesus BorjaNS2c
Cabrera, Vicente CabreraNS2c
Camacho, Jose SantosNS2c
Camacho, RomanCivilian Employee
Camacho, Vicente Rivera
Campos, Juan RojosNS2c
Castro, Geronimo RosarioNS2c
Castro, Jesus Leon GuerreroNS2c
Castro, Juan San Nicholas
Cepeda, Francisco Sablan
Cepeda, Juan QuitanoNS2c
Cepeda, Juan SablanNS2c
Charfauros, Francisco H.NS2c
Charfauros, Francisco Nededog
Chargualaf, Vicente ChargualafNS2c
Chargualaf, Vicente CruzNS2c
Concepcion, Juan M.NS2c
Crisostomo, Antonio PangelinanNS1c
Cristobol, Adriano Loreto Untalan
Cruz, George SorianoNS2c
Cruz, Geronimo DydascoNS2c
Cruz, Jesus CruzNS2c
Cruz, Jesus HernandezNS2c
Cruz, Joaquin Leon GuerreroNS2c
Cruz, Jose QuengaNS2c
Cruz, Juan Chargualaf
Cruz, Juan CruzNS2c
Cruz, Juan GuerreroNS2c
Cruz, Juan PelezNS2c
Cruz, Juan Valenzuela
Cruz, Miguel RoyosNS2c
Cruz, Pedro GuerreroNS1c
Cruz, Vicente Diaz
Delgado, Jesus C.NS2c
Delgado, Jesus Santos
Eustaquio, Eduardo CastroNS2c
Fegurgur, Francisco FegurgurNS2c
Fejerang, Francisco M.NS2c
Fejerang, Gregorio CamachoNS2c
Fejerang, Joaquin TajalleNS2c
Fejerang, Jose CruzNS2c
Fejerang, Jose P.
Flores, Angel Leon GuerreroNS2c
Flores, Gregorio TerlajeNS2c
Flores, Jesus MunaNS2c
Garcia, Francisco MesaNS2c
Garrido, Jesus LujanNS2c
Guerrero, Julian MertalenNS2c
Guerrero, Santiago Tenorio
Guevera, Froitan Delgado
Guzman, Jesus Flores
Guzman, Jesus M.NS1c
Guzman, Jose MendiolaNS2c
Ignacio, Enrique M.NS2c
Laguana, Agustin Ignacio
Limtiaco, Vicente AflagueNS2c
Lizama, Hipolito PabloNS2c
Lizama, Jose SalasNS2c
Lujan, Joaquin GuerreroNS2c
Mafnas, Jose R.NS2c
Malijan, Jsse MalijanNS2c
Manglona, Raimundo LizamaNS2c
Manibusan, J.C.NSK3c
Martinez, Jesus Pangelinan
Mendiola, Jesus SalasNS2c
Mendiola, PedorNS2c
Meno, Jesus Meno
Meno, Jesus PeredoNS2c
Meno, Jose MenoNS2c
Nauta, Jesus QuidachayNS2c
Nauta, Pedro QuidachayNS2c
Ogo, Ramon SarmientoNS2c
Pablo, Jose CruzNS2c
Pangelinan, Ignacio PangelinanNS2c
Pangelinan, Vicente N.NS2c
Pangelinan, Vicente RosarioNS2c
Pangelinan, Vicente Unpingco
Perez, Dorotheo CruzNS2c
Perez, Jesus Salas
Perez, Jose TorresNS1c
Perez, Juan Francisco
Perez, Juan T.NS2c
Perez, Pedro DiazNS1c
Quitugua, Jose LujanNS2c
Rivera, Antonio
Rosario, Manuel TaitingfongNS2c
Sablan, Antonio CruzNS2c
Sablan, Antonio RojasNS2c
Sablan, Pedro ChargualafNS2c
Sablan, Pedro TaitanoNS2c
Sablan, Vincente Santos
Salas, Atanacio Leon GuerreroNS2c
Salas, Dionicio Leon GuerreroNS2c
Salas, Ignacio ChargualafNS2c
Salas, Joaquin Leon CuerreroNS2c
San Agustin, George SanchezNS2c
San Agustin, Juan R.NS2c
San Nicolas, JesusNS2c
San Nicolas, Joaquin P.NCM2c
San Nicolas, Juan RosarioNS1c
San Nicolas, Pedro C.NS2c
Sanchez, Vicente QuinataNS2c
Santos, Gregorio Camacho
Santos, Jesus Santos
Santos, Jose (Joseph) DuenasNS2c
Santos, Vicente ChargualafNS2c
Santos, Wenceslaus (W.) MarianoNS2c
Sgambelluri, Giovanni Salvatori C.NS1c
Siguenaz, Jose Taitingfong
Soriano, Jose Garcia
Soriano, Jose S.NS2c
Taitano, Francisco Salas
Tajalle, Tomas NededogNS2c
Tajalle, Tomas Tajalle
Terlaje, Juan Salas
Torres, Juan MunaNS2c
Torres, Juan Nauta
Torres, Tomas NededeogNS2c
Tydingco, Carlos Lujan
Ulloa, Joaquin Iglesias
Untalan, Jesus Mendeiola
Villagomez, Jose PerezNS2c

*This roster is composed of names from the original report by Governor Commandant McMillin to the Secretary of the Navy in 1945 and from subsequent research done on the Insular Guard. Further research is ongoing.

At 4:45 a.m., gunfire was heard east of the Plaza. Pedro Cruz used a Lewis machine gun and was assisted by Ben (Vicente) Chargualaf and Roman Camacho. The trio fired the first shots at the Japanese as they approached the Plaza in the early morning hours of December 10. Cruz gave a Colt .45-caliber pistol to Chargualaf to provide cover during the brief, but violent exchange of fire. Other Insular Force Guard members manned the other two machine guns and stood their ground as they opened fire. Ill-equipped and out-numbered, they made a valiant attempt to stop the Japanese advance at the Plaza but were quickly driven back. The battle was to last for nearly one hour. Governor McMillin realized that his tiny command was no match for the invasion force. Three blasts from an automobile horn signaled a cease fire.

Shortly thereafter, Governor McMillin and his American troops were assembled at the Plaza and forced to line up facing a machine gun. Mr. Shinahara, one of the imprisoned Japanese nationalists, was brought forward and used as an interpreter. At 6:45 that morning the island government formerly surrendered.

The Chamorros, caught in a conflict not of their making, suffered the brutality of war. Gone were the old ways, as a new era in history was begun.