War in the Pacific
Historic Resource Study
NPS Logo

F. Other Significant World War II Sites on Guam

V. General Obata's Command Post

Lt. Gen. Hideyoshi Obata established his last command post on Guam at Mataguac Hill (Mount Mataguac in 1944) about a third of a mile north of Yigo. The hill rises 120 feet above the surrounding terrain. The command post's caves as well as a spring are in a depression on the northeast side of the hill. The history features are within the privately owned South Pacific Memorial Park, owned and managed by the South Pacific Memorial Association, composed primarily of Japanese citizens. At the east base of the hill, an imposing concrete memorial tower, in the form of hands in a praying gesture, dominates the scene. Nearby is the small Queen of Peace Chapel and a residence for a custodian. Japanese visitors continue to erect small monuments, shrines, and prayer sticks in the vicinity of the memorial. The park is dedicated to those Americans and Japanese who died in the battle for Yigo.

To the north of the memorial, a flight of concrete steps leads down into a large depression that contains the entrances to four caves where General Obata established his command post and where he and his staff died. A second flight of steps descends to a spring that provided fresh water to the Japanese. The water is collected behind a low concrete wall. Jungle vegetation is thick and lush throughout the depression except where trails are kept clear.

Mataguac Hill is covered with tall sword grass. Erosion has occurred on the slopes of the hill. Several iron stakes for barbed wire are found on the eastern slope; these appear to be American and post-battle.

The management of the park provides some written interpretation of the memorial, some of it in fractured English, but there is little information available an General Obata's last stand or on the battle for Yigo and Mount Santa Rosa.

Lt. Gen. Hideyoshi Obata, from his headquarters on Saipan, commanded the Thirty-first Army which defended the Mariana, Bonin, and Palau islands. He was on an inspection trip to Palau when the American invasion of Saipan began. The general hastened to return to his headquarters but was unable to proceed beyond Guam. Despite his seniority, Obata left Guam's defenses in the hands of the island commander, Lt. Gen. Takeshi Takashima. When Takashima was killed on July 28, Obata took command of the surviving Japanese forces on Guam and oversaw the withdrawal to the north. There, he established a final defensive line in the Mount Mataguac-Mount Santa Rosa area. Chamorro men were forced to dig tunnels for Obata's command post under Mount Mataguac. Joaquin Acosta Blas recalled later that the Japanese forced him and other Chamorros to build three tunnels at Mataguac.

On August 10, 1944, patrols from the Seventy-seventh Infantry Division approached Mataguac and drew heavy fire from the Japanese. A full-scale battle ensued. Obata knew the end was near and radioed his last messages to Japan, "I will engage the enemy in the last battle with the remaining strength at Mount Mataguac tomorrow, the 11th." [20] Next morning a battalion of U.S. infantrymen, supported by tanks, assaulted the hill. Then, behind a shower of grenades, they descended into the depression where they sealed the caves with explosives. Sometime that morning General Obata took his own life. The bathe for Guam was over.

Four days later, demolition men reopened the caves and found more than 60 bodies within. The U.S. Army described the caves as having four-foot thick concrete walls; they were large and elaborately constructed; and they contained a large transmitter. It is not known if the caves were resealed or collapsed later.

Entrance to South Pacific Memorial Park, Mataguac, 1984.

Mataguac Hill in background, Queen of Peace Chapel to left, Memorial Tower to right, 1984.

Memorial Tower, Mataguac Hill, 1984.

Interpretation at Mataguac Hill, 1984.

Command post depression, Mataguac Hill, 1984.

Cave in command post area, Mataguac Hill, 1984.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 07-Mar-2005