LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
45 Chamorros caught in Wake invasion
By TINA D. AGUON
Before the outbreak of World War II, 45 Chamorro men
were employed by Pan American Airways at the company's facilities in
Wake Island, one of the stops on the Pan Am Clipper transPacific air
service initiated in 1935.
The men worked as kitchen helpers, hotel service
attendants, and laborers. But the peaceful life on Wake was shattered
Dec. 8, 1941, when Japanese aircraft bombed the island, killing five men
from Guam and wounding five others.
A day later, those wounded died when a bomb destroyed
their hospital. The remaining Chamorros joined the island's garrison,
asked by Wake's American military commander to help fortify and defend
The defenders repulsed on Dec. 11 the initial landing
force of the Japanese, and for 12 more days the defenders held out. But
the inevitable happened. Supported by the arrival of additional ships
and aircraft, some of which participated in the Dec. 7 attack
on Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops stormed ashore and
on Dec. 23, Wake fell.
Garrison members, including the 35 surviving
Chamorros, were taken as prisoners of war, tortured and then
incarcerated in a camp in Shanghai, China, where two men from Guam were
The remaining 33 Chamorros were eventually
transferred to a POW camp in Osaka, Kobe, Japan where they were
imprisoned for the war's duration.
Today, of the original 45 Wake Island defenders from
Guam, there are only four remaining survivors: Sergio Maanao Mendiola,
Antonio Mendiola Peredo, Alfonso Meno Camacho, and Francisco Chaco
On Jan. 22, 1982, under Public Law 95-202, Congress
granted the Guamanian Wake Island Defenders veteran status under the
Navy. On POW-MIA Day in 1988, the surviving Wake Island defenders from
Guam were officially awarded their POW medals.
Japanese soldiers pose for a group
photograph. The men were to serve in Guam as reinforcements to Japanese
defenders, but while their gear and personal effects arrived on island,
they did not. At the time of their scheduled deployment to Guam, the
U.S. Navy effectively blockaded resupply and reinforcement of the
island, stranding the garrison (left). At right, in Agana, Japanese
naval militia take a break from their duties.
30 March 1942
President Roosevelt appoints MacArthur as Supreme Commander
Southwest Pacific Area and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz as
Commander-in-chief Pacific Ocean Area.