War in the Pacific
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F. Other Significant World War II Sites on Guam

III. Father Duenas' Execution Site

On capturing Guam, the Japanese sent all American military, civilians, and Roman Catholic clergy (including the Spanish Bishop Olano) to Japan as prisoners of war. They allowed two Chamorro priests, Fathers Jesus Baza Duenas and Oscar Lujan Calvo, and a Baptist minister, Rev. Joaquin Flores Sablan, to remain on the island. The Catholic Church had been on Guam for nearly four centuries and the removal of the clergy was a serious burden far the people to bear. Father Duenas, opposed to the techniques of the Japanese authorities from the start of the occupation, lived in the southern village of Inarajan and attended as best he could to the religious needs of all southern Guam. Japan sent two Catholic priests, Monsignor Fukahori and Father Petro Komatsu, to Guam to assist in religious matters and, presumably, to act as a bridge between the people and Japanese authorities.

Suspicious of Father Duenas because of his independent frame of mind, the Japanese considered at one time of exiling him to Rota. Only the intervention of Father Komatsu put an end to this idea. The Japanese priests and Duenas were not on friendly terms, however. On at least one occasion, Father Duenas criticized the Japanese for using the altar to praise Japan. Monsignor Fukahori, in turn, advised Duenas to stick to religious affairs. Eventually, Duenas refused to submit his sermons to Japanese censorship and to make official announcements for the occupiers during his sermons.

By early July 1944, it was clear to the Japanese that an American invasion of Guam was but a matter of time. On July 8, Japanese officials arrested the 30-year-old Jesuit, Father Duenas, in Inarajan, as well as his attorney-nephew, Eduardo Duenas. The two of them were tied and paraded through the village streets in front of their countrymen, who were ordered to be silent. Torture began almost immediately; water was forced into Duenas' nose and mouth, and both men were beaten. They were accused of being spies or the Americans and for helping navy man, George Tweed, who, ironically, escaped from Guam on July 10. Franciso Naputi was a witness to the event in Inarajan, "That morning . . . there was Father Duenas laid on a bench, being scourged. He was made to open his mouth while half a gallon of water was being poured into his mouth until he finished it. So many people there were crying, and whoever cried was scolded by the Japanese." [17]

Torture and interrogations continued over the next three days by various Japanese authorities. On the morning of July 12, Father Duenas, Eduardo Duenas, retired navy man Juan N. Panglinan, and an unidentified Chamorro were led to four fresh graves in the village of Tai, southeast of Agana. With their hands tied behind their backs, they were forced to kneel at the graves. One by one, Japanese officers moved forward and beheaded the men. Years later, Vincente Salas San Nicolas recalled that day:

Father Jesus Duenas Memorial, Tai, 1984.

Father Jesus Duenas Memorial, Tai, 1984.

Father Duenas Memorial School, from monument, 1984.

Father Duenas' burial site, altar, St. Joseph's Church, Inaragan, 1944.

The notice came to us right after lunch that we had to go to Tai to watch the killing of three people by the Japanese, but we didn't get there in time. It had already been done; they'd been buried when we reached the place.

Q. Do you know who the three people were?

I don't really know who the people were because we were not there on time. But all the three were suspected of being spies and feeding Tweed so they were killed. [18]

Following the liberation of Guam, in March 1945, Father Duenas' remains were exhumed and moved to Inarajan. In a simple but impressive ceremony they were reburied beneath the altar in St. Joseph's church where they remain.

The site of the Tai killings is near today's Father Duenas Memorial School on Highway 10, just outside the community of Mangilao. Adjacent to the highway a statue of Father Duenas has been erected on a large grassy lawn with the school buildings in the background. Local people say that the statue is not on the precise spot of the killings but that it is close. There is no interpretation at the site. It is identified in a folder, "Guide to Guam's World War II Sites," which is readily avaiabie to visitors to the island.

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Last Updated: 07-Mar-2005