LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
Sgambelluri's secret life
Compiled by RAJ SOOD
He must have been a unique man and quite a character,
the late Adolfo Camacho Sgambelluri.
The son of a Navy man, Sgambelluri was a policeman in
pre-war Guam and then a police official for the Japanese occupation
authorities, a role which did not endear him to
Nevertheless, his record as a policeman and then as
an investigator was sterling in pre-war Guam, and his abilities must
have appealed to the efficiency-conscious Japanese authorities during
Marine Capt. Charles S. Todd, the chief of police of
Guam when World War II erupted, said Sgambelluri and fellow policemen
Juan Taitano and Juan Roberto were "outstanding" staff. "Roberto and
Sgambelluri were the detectives who investigated all the incidents
involving the local people, and I don't recall their leaving any case
uncleared. They were feared, but highly respected. In many instances,
they assisted in other cases involving naval personnel and their
dependents," Todd said.
The chief also tasked Sgambelluri with
responsibilities that helped the policeman develop skills that would prove
invaluable to American officials in the post-war period. "...they
were also assigned as intelligence officers collecting
information considered adverse to the military and United States
government. They collected information and prepared profiles on all
Japanese, German and other foreigners considered not friendly to the
United States," Todd said.
During the Japanese occupation, Sgambelluri was a
policeman of sorts, acting as a liaison between island residents and
military authorities. His work brought him into close contact with
Japanese officials. As a result, he was able to warn Chamorros about
investigations and searches. The policeman was invaluable in particular
in helping people move George Tweed, the sailor who was able to evade
Japanese authorities for the 31 months of the occupation, whenever
officials intensified efforts to locate the Navy man.
After the Liberation, Sgambelluri was incarcerated
along with others accused of aiding or sympathizing with the Japanese.
Because of that, he carried a certain stigma and his arrest was viewed
by some as justice.
However, his incarceration was voluntary. Sgambelluri
asked to be put in the stockade and, using the skills he gained while as
an intelligence officer in pre-war Guam, he was able to obtain information
that assisted prosecutors in their cases against people accused of
war crimes and of assistance to the enemy.
His efforts, not only during the post-war era but
also during the occupation when he helped circumvent Japanese investigations
of Chamorros and their activities, were recognized and lauded by
U.S. officials, including USMC Maj. General Henry L. Larson, Island
Commander in the time immediately after Liberation, and Col. Teller
Ammons, U.S. Army Judge Advocate, Military Commission of Guam.
"I personally appreciate all the assistance you have
given, and you have rendered an exceedingly patriotic service to your
people on Guam and the Government of the United States. Now I am sure
you have a complete satisfaction that you served in the best interests
of the people of Guam," Ammons wrote Sgambelluri.
Once jeered as an enemy sympathizer, Sgambelluri died
at age 73 on Dec. 12, 1985, and he was buried with honors for outstanding service to his country.
In a camp in Guam, prisoners of war bow
their heads as they hear a radio broadcast of Japanese Emperor Hirohito
announcing the surrender of Japan in World War II.
2 September 1945
The Japanese formally surrender to the Allied powers in a
ceremony aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.