War in the Pacific
Administrative History
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Chapter 6:


First impressions are important. They create assumptions — some positive, some negative. Positive assumptions foster positive relationships that facilitate growth and productivity; negative assumptions either foreshadow an inability to grow and produce, or must be neutralized before growth and productivity are possible. This is as true of the creation of national parks as it is in many other human endeavors. The political and social climate that pre-exists a park's establishment is one of the more important facts that planners must consider in designing an appropriate local approach to introducing both the park as well as the park's concept. This chapter addresses that social and political environment that characterized Guam immediately preceding the establishment of the War in the Pacific National Historic Park.

The establishment of a historical park on Guam presented a complex web of interconnected social and political challenges, perhaps some of the most complex ever faced by the National Park Service. In the late 1970s, Guam had an economy made largely dependent upon a large military presence; a struggle to maintain cultural integrity; a relatively new local government laboring to grasp the pride of autonomy in the shadow of federal Big Brother; and a tourist population overwhelmingly comprised of citizens of a nation who had attacked and occupied Guam during World War II and whose language was not understood by most islanders. Added to all this was the challenge of developing a new national historical park in a remote region where time zones and more than 3,800 miles of ocean to the nearest American islands further complicated communications; chronic underfunding; minimal support by an unsympathetic executive branch; a climate literally corrosive to artifacts; and repeated typhoons and severe tropical storms regularly scouring park grounds of improvements. The continued existence of the park and its evolution into a recognized institution on Guam and within the Park Service is attributable to the initial park staff, particularly the park's first superintendent — Stell Newman.

T. Stell Newman, a PhD archeologist from the National Park Service regional office in Alaska, and former air force pilot, was an affable, politically sensitive young man whose ready smile accented a flowing beard. His wit was demonstrated when he cunningly fooled a local radio personality into tenderly caring for a seedling Newman had presented to him. Newman bestowed the talk show host with the honorific title of Junior Ranger, and insisted on donating a "special" fertilizer the announcer could use for the seedling. Newman frequently appeared on the talk show, and would inevitably praise the commendable care the talk show host was providing the "unique" seedling. It was not until the on-air memorial service for the sad, withered and very dead seedling that Newman disclosed that the seedling was merely a weed common to the island, and the herbicide he had been providing the talk-show host, representing it as "fertilizer," may have contributed to the plant's demise. [162]

Newman's ingenuity was demonstrated in his method of designing a pedestrian walkway in the Asan Beach Unit. After learning that professionally designing the wide walkway would cost much more than his already inadequate budget would permit, he lashed two steel stakes to either side of a road grader blade and slowly drove his envisioned serpentine course, letting the stakes score two perfectly spaced, parallel lines between which the walkway would be built. His insightful selection of employees was graphically demonstrated when he hired a retired Air Force noncommissioned officer, Rogue Borja, who had been working as a maintenance supervisor for the Government of Guam since his retirement from the Air Force. The selection of that employee both ensured competent and reliable assistance, and it created a valuable political and social bridge to the Government of Guam. Perhaps who Stell Newman was and how he was perceived was most clearly demonstrated when memories of him and his untimely death in a car crash caused this retired Technical Sergeant to tear up during an interview fifteen years later.

For at least two generations, island residents harbored a mistrust of the United States government, even though an awareness of the island's dependence on that government's presence permeated every aspect of the resident's lives. This distrust/dependency conflict manifested itself in a cooperation with the United States that floated precariously on a conflicted sea of suspicion. A July 1979 Pacific Daily News article reported that, "Since April, Guam's leaders have become increasingly dissatisfied with the way U. S. officials are treating this territory's residents." The article went on to quote Guam Governor Paul Calvo as saying:

The people of Guam can no longer tolerate the insistence of the federal government to take serious actions affecting the daily lives of our people, almost totally ignoring relevant necessary input of its local citizens. We are first class, local Americans. All we ask is the federal government to recognize this. We don't want to be first class citizens when it's needed and excess baggage the rest of the time. [163]

This sense of alienation and a desire for greater political power continued through the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In 1982, fifty percent of all votes cast in an island-wide election expressed a desire that Guam become a commonwealth; only 26 per cent voted for statehood. [164]

The international community of nations was dissatisfied with the treatment it perceived Guam was receiving at the hands of the United States. [165] On November 21, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly voted 103-1 that Guam be demilitarized and be granted its independence. The United States disregarded the U.N. position, arguing that Guam residents had expressed their free will and wanted to maintain their close association with the U.S. government. Guam residents were well aware of the perceptions of their plight entertained by the international community. The UN debate and vote was well publicized on the island. [166]

The complexity of the social and political climate engendered by this mistrust/economic dependency dichotomy was compounded by three other interrelated factors: (1) Concentration of Island employment; (2) geographical concentration of island residency; and (3) an increased sense of investiture by residents in the future of Guam. In the early 1980s, half of the island's work force of 33,000 was employed either by the Government of Guam or by the United States Government. Over twenty-five percent of the population of 108,406 lived in or near Agana, the capital. [167] This near proximity of island residents, both geographically and economically meant that activities of the initial Park Service employees were highly observable and reports of those activities, both good and bad, received rapid and wide informal reportage. And, residents had an increasing incentive to be observant and caring. Island per capita income had increased dramatically. Between 1965 and 1975 business income, personal income and Government of Guam revenues tripled. The 1982 per capital income was US$4,574, nearly double what it was in 1972. This sense of increased economic investiture by island residents manifested itself in extraordinarily large voter participation in local elections. During the 1980s, voter turnout was frequently between 80 and 90 percent. [168] Only when one fully appreciates the general sense of suspicion/dependency, the transparency of Park Service activities, the rapidity with which those activities were made known throughout the general community, and the heightened sense of investment by residents in the island's future can one appreciate the social and political context within which the park was born and nurtured.

Federal Enabling Legislation

On August 18, 1978, Public Law 95-348 (92 Stat. 487, later codified at 16 USC 460dd) was enacted. It established War in the Pacific National Historical Park. [169] Section 6 of the Act states:

In order to commemorate the bravery and sacrifices of those participating in the campaigns of the Pacific theater of World War II and to conserve and interpret outstanding natural, scenic, and historic values and objects on the island of Guam for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park . . . is hereby established. [170]

The Act also authorized the Secretary of the Interior to acquire additional lands within the boundaries of the park (Sec 6(c)); to identify and mark other relevant points on the island in concert with the Governor of Guam (Sec 6 (d)); to retain the services of historians to interpret aspects of the park (Sec 6 (f)); and to negotiate with the Secretary of Defense to berth and interpret a World War II naval vessel (Sec 6(g)). Unfortunately, the legislation failed to clearly establish park boundaries: "The boundaries of the park shall be as generally depicted on the drawing entitled ‘Boundary Map, War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam' numbered 24-80,000-B and dated March 1978." [171] [Emphasis added.] This failure to establish a clear and definite boundary would haunt park staff for years to come.

In addition to a failure to definite a clear boundary, congress' failure to quickly appropriate money for the park created its own set of problems. In fact the 95th Congress never did make any appropriations for the park. Unfortunately, a reader of the legislation who is not familiar with federal spending procedures could have logically concluded that congress gave NPS $16 million for the park:

For the purposes of the park established under this section, effective October 1, 1978, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary, but not to exceed $16,000,000 for the acquisition of lands or interests in lands and $50,000 for development [emphasis added]. [172]

This language would be interpreted by Guam residents, including owners of property within the park boundaries, as meaning that congress had slipped $16 million into NPS' pocket. This misinterpretation would engender protracted resentment toward the Park Service that would simmer for years to come. The misinterpretation engendered an expectation that the land would be quickly purchased by the federal government. This expectation, in turn, limited the marketability (and, therefore, suppressed the price) of inholdings. Owners and prospective buyers alike assumed that since the land acquisition was imminent, it would be illogical to "develop" it. Even if the land were not acquired quickly by the government, owners and prospective "developers" alike reasonably assumed that restrictions limiting the nature of development would be applied.

As noted in chapter 6, above, legislative efforts to create War in the Pacific National Historic Park started back in the 1950s. By the early 1970s these efforts had crystalized into formal legislative activity. In January 1972, the House of Representatives Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs conducted hearings on Guam to solicit public opinion regarding the proposed historical park. The 45-member House committee was chaired by Wayne Aspinall (Colorado); the January hearings on Guam were headed up by Harold T. Johnson of California. Congressmen Burlison of Missouri and Ruppe of Michigan were present. Testimony, oral and written, was taken from representatives of the Government of Guam as well as private citizens resident on Guam. [173] The hearings were attended by several NPS employees, including the Deputy Director (Flynn), a representative of Acquisitions (Griswold), the Regional Director from San Francisco (Chapman), and the Director of Pacific Operations (Barrell).

The most significant issue raised repeatedly both by witnesses who testified in person as well as those who testified by submitted written statements was the issue of local control. Repeatedly, witnesses expressed concern that the residents of Guam should be vested with some form of meaningful control over the proposed park. This concern was most strongly stressed as it related to acquisition, conveyance and use of real property within and adjacent to the proposed park. Additionally, many who testified expressed concern regarding the amount of land that would be incorporated into the park. As stated by Tomas C. Charfauros, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Military and Veteran Affairs of the 11th Guam Legislature:

I would like to make one comment relating to the total land area to be included within the Pacific National Historical Park [sic]. Section 2 of bill S 2991, the Senate companion bill to bill H. R. 1726, contemplates that approximately 2,800 acres of land would be acquired for the purpose of the establishment of the park. In this regard we would like to echo the comments which have been made or will be made by many of the people testifying before your subcommittee that land on Guam is exceedingly dear. This is a small island, and the proposed size of the park represents a substantial amount of the total land area of Guam. Accordingly, my committee would respectfully request that the park area be limited in land area and that only those areas having the greatest national historical significance be acquired by the Secretary of the Interior for inclusion in the park. While undoubtedly the beachheads themselves are essential for the park and of great historical significance, a substantial portion of the mountain and plateau areas adjacent to the landing areas would not appear to be necessary for the historical presentation of the war in the Pacific and particularly the battles on Guam. [174]

When asked for clarification of the land proposed for inclusion in the park, the NPS Director of Pacific Operations (Barrel) reported that the total area included in the plan was 2,751 acres, of which only 1,191 acres were land acres. [175]

These 1972 legislative efforts failed to create a War in the Pacific park; however, efforts did not end, and finally bore fruit in 1978 when, as noted above, Senate Bill 2821 was passed by both House and Senate to become Public Law 95-348 (92 Stat. 487). (The section of this law creating War in the Pacific National Historic Park is presented in its entirety as Appendix 8 of this document.)

Congress did not concern itself with the park again until 1993, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the American's 1944 landing on Guam. The 1993 report of the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources succinctly presented the case for the congressional action:

Although it has been 15 years since the establishment of both parks [American Memorial on Saipan, and War in the Pacific National Historic Park] very little development has occurred toward fulfilling the purposes for which the parks were established. As ordered reported, H. R. 1944 [the proposed 1993 legislation] would increase the development ceiling at each park by $8 million, to allow for the completion of a visitor center at each park in time for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Guam and the invasion of the Northern Marianas on Saipan and Tinian in 1994. [176]

The 1993 congressional bill (H. R. 1944) also provided for the construction of a monument in the park commemorating the experiences of Guam residents during Japanese occupation. As stated by Congressman Bob Underwood, the sponsor of this 1993 legislation,

It seemed to us as we watched the park mature a little bit, and as the 50th Anniversary came on the horizon, that there was a missing dimension to the War in the Pacific Park; and that was the recognition of the experiences of the Charmorro [sic] people. [177]

In his attempt to persuade the subcommittee to report favorably on the bill (recommend that the House pass it), Underwood arranged for the testimony of persons who lived on Guam during the Japanese occupation, including one who reportedly was physically attacked by some soldiers, and a second who reported what he had heard regarding abuse by soldiers.

The result of the 1993 legislative effort was the construction of the Asan Bay Overlook. Since 1993, the park has been beyond both the physical and budgetary horizons of Congress.

The Concept of "National Historical Park"

And, there was yet another, and no less significant, issue that made the challenges of the Park Service staff more complex: Guam had never experienced a National Park Service park. Therefore, park service philosophies pertaining to park use, and preservation of natural and cultural resources were alien concepts. The concept of "park" was very different on the island. Since 1966, the island government had officially recognized only three types of parks, all recreational: regional, district, and neighborhood. Uses included camping, picnicking, animal sanctuaries, marinas and small boat harbors (regional parks), sports fields and children's playgrounds (district and neighborhood parks). [178] Consequently, the concept of a national historical park on Guam was introducing a whole set of new policies, procedures and park philosophies. Most of the island had been a World War II battlefield. At the end of 1944 the north half of the island was largely denuded of trees and shrubs, many if not most buildings and houses were rubble. And, this barren, smoldering landscape was littered with jeeps, tanks, ammunitions boxes, personal gear, unexploded ordnance, and the hundreds of other items of refuge and twisted metal left in the otherworldly aftermath of men living, killing and dying on the landscape. Residents watched the United States military bulldoze this landscape of war litter, and dump it in ad hoc landfills or in the Philippine Sea. They watched as the landscape became increasingly littered with oil and water tanks, temporary roads and bridges, drainage ditches and water pipes, power plants and sewage treatment ponds. They watched as innumerable corrugated tin buildings mushroomed one after another. They watched as the Navy transformed the island into the port and port-support environment reminiscent of naval bases in Norfolk, Long Beach and Bremerton. Residents watched as foxholes, pillboxes and bunkers were filled, and artillery gun barrels and mounts, as well as damaged landing craft and tanks, were hauled away by government contractors for their salvage steel.

Two generations of Guam residents had become accustomed to the cavalier treatment of the land, its resources, and World War II artifacts. And, into this long-running theater featuring transformation by bulldozer, entered the National Park Service from stage left. They preached preservation and conservation. They argued for the memorialization of the very flotsam and jetsam of war that had been scraped away for forty years. The Park Service wanted to prohibit baseball games in fields earlier ravaged by the diesel roar of navy machines. It is little wonder that NPS' concept of "park" was not only alien but in some local circles viewed with speechless amusement. No island park had been dedicated exclusively or even primarily to the concepts of conservation, preservation, and interpretation, especially not a national historical park. Parks were to be used to play ball, picnic, and gather with friends and family. In short, the concept of "park" was exactly the same concept shared by the residents of any other local or regional area within the continental United States — the park had a ball diamond, a horseshoe pitching area, and a fountain in the middle.

Notwithstanding the above, there was still a general consensus by Guam residents that a park commemorating the sacrifices of World War II should be created on the island. In fact the first visits to the island by NPS were at the request of the Government of Guam. The cultural life on Guam had changed exponentially after the cessation of hostilities in the mid-1940s. Immediately following World War II, the United States navy invested heavily in Guam, and not merely in military facilities and the clearing of the battleground litter. The Navy constructed over 1,000 private dwellings for residents occupying refuge camps, paved roads connecting town to town, seeded hillsides to minimize the erosion caused by the island's heavy shelling denuding the island, and built a number of schools for residents. In 1952 what became known as the University of Guam was opened as a co-educational two-year college under the name of the Territorial College of Guam. In 1963, it was accredited as a four-year liberal arts college; a graduate school was added in 1967, and in 1968 it became a university. The first regularly-scheduled commercial flight of tourists from Japan landed in Guam in 1967; by 1982 tourism accounted for thirty-two percent of the island's total retail sales, fifteen percent of its employment, and twenty percent of all government revenue. Of the 326,541 tourists visiting Guam in 1982 eighty-four percent were Japanese citizens. [179]

The decades of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s also witnessed the maturation of the embryonic Government of Guam that had been created by the 1950 Organic Act. Island government grew into a unicameral legislature, an executive branch consisting of a civilian governor and his various executive offices, and a judicial branch consisting of the Federal District Court of Guam as well as some lower courts created by the Guam Legislature. The legislature consisted of twenty-one senators elected by general popular vote and serving two-year terms. As an unincorporated territory the Guam government only had those powers given it by the United States Congress; all locally enacted laws must be reported by the governor to the United States Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Congress has the power to annul any local legislation. (As a practical matter, almost no Guam legislation has been disallowed by the United States federal government, with the exception of a couple pieces of proposed island legislation in the 1980s which attempted to condition voting rights upon race criteria.) [180] Notably, the Guam legislature responded favorably to the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have authorized the creation of a War in the Pacific Park. Notwithstanding the sometime pervasive perception by island residents that the U.S. federal government was not to be trusted, when the House of Representatives was entertaining House Bill 4262 in 1975, the Thirteenth Guam Legislature passed Resolution 147, "request[ing] the U. S. House of Representatives to pass H. R. 4262 to provide for the establishment of a National Historic Park in Guam within federal properties." [181]

Perhaps one of the more accurate ways of assessing the social and political context into which this park was introduced is to figuratively look over the shoulders of the first Park Service representatives on the island. We can discover their perceptions of the socio-political climate by seeing how they went about introducing the park to the residents and by then examining the comments and reactions of the residents.

The first step in defining the future of a newly-created park is the preparation of the park's General Management Plan. And, so it was with War in the Pacific National Historic Park. Before the actual writing began, staff initiated contact with local and territorial political leaders and solicited general comments from residents at public meetings. Specifically, park staff implemented the following procedural steps:

(1) Conduct informal workshops with the commissioners and planners of Agat, Piti, Asan and Agana (communities most directly affected by the creation of the park);

(2) Conduct public meetings in these communities in March 1979;

(3) Prepare a draft of the management plan;

(4) Distribute the draft, including copies to Government of Guam agencies such as the Governor's Office, Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Territorial Historic Preservation Officer;

(5) Conduct six public hearings in 1980 to gather public comments about the draft;

(6) Prepare a final General Management Plan, taking both written and oral comments into consideration;

(7) Distribution of final management plan together with requests for comments from persons, agencies, and organizations that had commented on the draft

(8) Public hearings on the proposed final General Management Plan. [182]

It should be noted that all of this activity that immediately followed the legislative creation of the park was actually a continuation of public interaction that was initiated by the Park Service years earlier, in the late 1960s. The proposal written by the Park Service that advocated the establishment of War in the Pacific park was based in part on extensive conferences engaged in by the Park Service and local associations and local government agencies. This late-1960s planning process received public attention. Several editorials and news articles were published in the island newspapers, all in support of the proposed park. Unfortunately, a search of news articles and editorials failed to reveal any detailed explanation of the nature of an NPS historical park. There didn't appear to be an attempt to distinguish a historical park from a recreational park. The primary argument advanced for the creation of the park was pride in local history. Concerns expressed by owners of land that would be included in the park were assuaged by reassurances that the Park Service would pay fair market value for their land.

The sentiments of local pride, confusion regarding the nature of an historical park (and how it differed from a recreational park), and a feeling that land owners would receive prompt and adequate compensation, apparently continued into the late 1970s when public hearings were being conducted in preparation for the master plan preparation. Public comments received during the town hall-type meetings are informative. Some of the more significant comments received included: [183]

(1) NPS should expedite their land acquisition program (see chapter 9, Park Lands, of this administrative history);

(2) The Agat-Santa Rita High School needed expansion room, but is hemmed in by the park boundaries (park boundaries were adjusted);

(3) The northwest section of the Agat cemetery should be removed from the park (park boundaries were adjusted);

(4) Gaan Point needed restrooms;

(5) A boat launching ramp should be constructed in the Gaan Point area (NPS suggested that other sites for a ramp be explored);

(6) Utility poles on the beach side of the highway be relocated to the landward side to enhance viewscape.

When all comments, both oral comments made during the several public meetings and workshops and written comments contained in the more than twenty detailed letters received by park staff, they can be distilled into six broad categories: [184]

(1) Land acquisition by the Park Service;

(2) Boundary adjustments to permit residential, commercial and government use expansions as well as the inclusion of other historic sites;

(3) Public recreational uses conflicting with NPS policy and philosophy (e.g., installation of lighted baseball fields, public boat launching ramps, or opening beer concessions in the park);

(4) Greater recognition of Chamorro involvement in World War II;

(5) Identification and protection of prehistoric Chamorro sites; and

(6) Broadening the park's scope to include the entire war in the Pacific rather than focusing primarily on Guam.

The social and political context of Guam within which the park was created by Congress was generally receptive to the park. However, the first few years of the park's existence was a time of an unsympathetic administration in Washington, D.C., and that lack of political support from the executive office manifested itself in grossly inadequate funding. There was inadequate funding for staff, equipment, office space, historical research, interpretation activities, maintenance of the public land within park boundaries, and expedient acquisition of private land in-holdings (as had been implicitly promised for years).

Were it not for the dedication and creatively of the park's first superintendent and those he surrounded himself with, the park would not have continued to exists, or would certainly not have been the impressive park it became. Stell Newman, the park's first superintendent, went on the radio and engendered an excellent relationship with a newspaper columnist. He used both forums to beg, and borrow equipment, and to recruit volunteers. He became friends with the majors of Asan, Agat and Piti, as well as preservation groups on the island and much of the local community. He and his staff created the park in spite of the United States Executive Office.

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Last Updated: 08-May-2005