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Title: Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam
Author: O'Brien, Cyril J.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam" ***

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Transcriber’s note: Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed
into the public domain. Boldface text is indicated by =equals signs=.


  Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam
    Sidebar: General Roy S. Geiger
  Coming Back to Guam
  Operation Forager
    Sidebar: General Allan H. Turnage
    Sidebar: General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
    Sidebar: Major General Andrew D. Bruce
  Ashore in the North
    Sidebar: 3d Marine Division Insignia
  The Southern Beaches
    Sidebar: Medal of Honor Recipients
    Sidebar: The Taking of Chonito Ridge
  Colonel Suenaga Attacks
  Fonte Ridge
    Sidebar: General Robert E. Cushman
    Sidebar: ‘Daring Tactics’ Gave Capt Wilson Medal of Honor
    Sidebar: The Colt .45-Caliber M1911A1 Pistol
    Sidebar: War Dogs on Guam
  Securing the Force Beachhead Line
  The Attack North
  Beginning of the End
    Sidebar: PFC Witek’s Medal of Honor Hailed ‘Inspiring Acts’
  About the Author
  About the Series
  Transcriber’s Notes




[Illustration: _Marines of Battery I, 14th Defense Battalion, man their
twin-barrelled, Mark IV, Oerlikon-designed 20mm guns on top of Chonito
Ridge, overlooking Adelup Point. In the initial stages of the Guam
operation, these antiaircraft guns fired in support of the 3d Marines._
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93063]

[Illustration: _A threatening 75mm Japanese gun pokes its barrel out of
the Gaan Point pillbox where a companion piece and a 37mm gun wreaked
havoc on the assault waves of the 22d Marines on W-Day, destroying
approximately 24 troop-carrying amphibian tractors, before the enemy
position was taken out._ Department of Defense Photo (USN) 247618]

Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam

_by Cyril J. O’Brien_

With the instantaneous opening of a two-hour, ever-increasing
bombardment by six battleships, nine cruisers, a host of destroyers
and rocket ships, laying their wrath on the wrinkled black hills, rice
paddies, cliffs, and caves that faced the attacking fleet on the west
side of the island, Liberation Day for Guam began at 0530, 21 July 1944.

Fourteen-inch guns belching fire and thunder set spectacular blossoms
of flame sprouting on the fields and hillsides inland. It was all very
plain to see in the glow of star shells which illuminated the shore,
the ships, and the troops who lined the rails of the transports and
LSTs (Landing Ships, Tank) which brought the U.S. Marines and soldiers

The barrages, which at daylight would be enlarged by the strafing
and bombing of carrier fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes, were
the grand climax of 13 days (since 8 July) of unceasing prelanding
softening-up. Indeed, carrier aircraft of Task Force 58 had been
blasting Guam airfields since 11 June, while the first bombardment of
the B-24s and B-25s of the Fifth, Seventh, and Thirteenth Air Forces
fell as early as 6 May.

Up at 0230 to a by-now traditional Marine prelanding breakfast of
steak and eggs, the assault troops, laden with fighting gear, sheathed
bayonets protruding from their packs, hurried and waited, while
the loudspeakers shouted “Now hear this.... Now hear this.” Unit
commanders on board the LSTs visited each of their men, checking gear,
straightening packs, rendering an encouraging pat on a shoulder, and
squaring away the queues going below to the well decks before boarding
the LVTs (Landing Vehicles, Tracked).

Troops on the APAs (attack transports) went over the rail and down
cargo nets to which they--weighed down with 40-pound packs as well as
weapons--held on for dear life, and into LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle
and Personnel). These troops would transfer from the landing craft to
LVTs at the reef’s edge, if all went as planned.

Aircraft went roaring in over mast tops and naval guns produced a
continuous booming background noise. Climaxing it all was the voice
of Major General Roy S. Geiger, commanding general of III Amphibious
Corps, rasping from a bulkhead speaker:

  You have been honored. The eyes of the nation watch you as you
  go into battle to liberate this former American bastion from the
  enemy. The honor which has been bestowed on you is a signal one.
  May the glorious traditions of the Marine Corps’ esprit de corps
  spur you to victory. You have been honored.

[Illustration: _SOUTHERN MARIANAS_]

In the crowded, stifling well decks of the LSTs, the liberators climbed
on board the LVTs and waited claustrophobic until the LST bow doors
dropped and the tracked landing vehicles rattled out over these ramps
into the swell of the sea. As the amphibian tractors circled (about
0615) near the line of departure, a flight of attack aircraft from
the _Wasp_ drowned out the whine of the amtrac engines and whirled
up clouds of fire and dust, obscuring the landing beaches ahead.
Eighty-five fighters, 65 bombers, and 53 torpedo planes executed a
grass-cutting strafing and bombing sweep along all of the landing
beaches from above the northern beaches of Agana, south for 14 miles
to Bangi Point.

“My aim is to get the troops ashore standing up,” said Rear Admiral
Richard L. Conolly, Southern Attack Force (Task Force 53) commander,
who earned the nickname “Close-in Conolly” during the Marshalls
operations for his insistence on having his naval gunfire support ships
firing from stations very close to the beaches.

Private First Class James G. Helt, a radioman with Headquarters and
Service Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, in the bow of an LVT moving
towards shore, wondered, as did many others, if anything could still
be alive on Guam? Ashore, Lieutenant Colonel Hideyuki Takeda, on the
staff of the defending _29th Division_, said the island could only
be defended if the Americans did not land. In a diary, one Japanese
officer noted that the only respite from the bombardment was a “stiff

The next best thing to a welcome mat for Marine assault waves had been
laid by the audacious Navy Underwater Demolition Teams 3, 4, and 6, who
cleared the beach obstacles. Navy Chief Petty Officer James R. Chittum
of Team 3 noted that these pathfinders were usually close enough to
draw small arms fire. At Asan, they exploded 640 wire obstacle cages
filled with cemented coral, and at Agat they blew a 200-foot hole for
unloading in the coral reef. Team 3, under Navy Reserve Lieutenant
Thomas C. Crist, also removed half of a small freighter from a channel
blocking the way of the Marines.

Swimmers as well as scouts, the “demos” reconnoitered right up on the
landing beaches themselves. They left a sign for the first assault wave
at Asan: “Welcome Marines--USO This Way.”

At 0730 a flare was shot in the air above the waiting flotilla and
Admiral Conolly commanded: “Land the Landing Force.” At 0808, the first
wave of the 3d Marine Division broke the circle of waiting LVTs to form
a line and cross the 2,000 yards of water to the 2,500-yard-wide beach
between Asan and Adelup points. At 0829, the first elements of the 3d
Marine Division were on Guam. Three minutes later, 0832, lead assault
troops of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade crossed the shelled-pocked
strand at Agat, six miles south of the Asan-Adelup beachhead.

[Sidebar (page 2): General Roy S. Geiger


Major General Roy S. Geiger, as the other general officers in the Guam
invasion force, was a World War I veteran. He also was an early Marine
Corps aviator. He was the fifth Marine to become a naval aviator--in
1917--and the 49th in the naval service to obtain his wings. He went
to France in July of that year and commanded a squadron of the First
Marine Aviation Force. In the war and after, he saw service with Marine
Corps air units. He also was well educated professionally, for he
attended the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth
in 1924-1925 and was a student in the Senior and Advanced Courses at
the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, 1939-1941. In August
1941, he became commanding general of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
and led it at Guadalcanal during the difficult days from September
to November 1942. Back in Washington in 1943, he was Director of
Aviation, until, on the untimely death of Major General Charles D.
Barnett, Commanding General, I Marine Amphibious Corps, just prior to
the Bougainville landings, General Geiger was rushed out to the Pacific
to assume command and direct the landings at Empress Augusta Bay on
1 November 1943. He was the first Marine aviator to head as large a
ground command as IMAC, which was redesignated III Amphibious Corps
in April 1944. He led this organization in the liberation of Guam
in July 1944, and in the landings on Peleliu on 15 September 1944.
General Geiger led this corps into action for the fourth time as part
of the Tenth Army in the invasion of Okinawa. Upon the death of Army
Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner, Geiger took command of the Tenth
Army, the first Marine to lead an army-sized force. In July 1945, at
the end of the Okinawa operation, General Geiger assumed command of
Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor. In November 1946 he
returned to Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, in Washington, and died
the following year. By an act of Congress, he was posthumously promoted
to the rank of general.

_Coming Back to Guam_

Guam, along with the Philippines, became a territorial possession of
the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1899,
ending the Spanish-American War. Earlier, on 21 June 1898, First
Lieutenant John Twiggs “Handsome Jack” Myers had led a party of Marines
ashore from the protected cruiser _Charleston_ to accept the surrender
of the Spanish authorities, who didn’t know that a state of war then
existed between Spain and the United States. Thus began a long Marine
presence on Guam. The island, southernmost of the Marianas chain, was
discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, but not occupied until 1688
when a small mission was established there by a Spanish priest and
soldiers. When control of the rest of the Mariana Islands, including
Saipan and Tinian, all once German possessions, was given to Japan as
a mandate power in 1919, Guam became an isolated and highly vulnerable
American outpost in a Japanese sea.

This American territory, 35 miles long, nine miles at its widest and
four at its narrowest, shaped like a peanut, with a year-long mean
temperature of 79 degrees, fell quickly and easily in the early morning
of 10 December 1941. Much of the Japanese attack on Guam came from her
sister island of Saipan, 150 miles to the north.

The governor of Guam, Captain George J. McMillan (the island governor
was always a U.S. Navy officer), aware that he could expect no
reinforcement or relief, decided to surrender the territory to
Japanese naval forces. Foremost in his mind was the fate of the 20,000
Guamanians, all American nationals, who would inevitably suffer if
a strong defense was mounted. He felt “the situation was simply
hopeless.” He sent word to the 153 Marines of the barracks detachment
at Sumay on Orote Peninsula and the 80-man Insular Guard to lay down
their arms. Even so, in two days of bombing and fighting, the garrison
lost 19 men killed and 42 wounded, including four Marines killed and 12

[Illustration: _RAdm Richard L. Conolly, Southern Attack Force
commander for the Guam landings, confers on Guadalcanal with the
commanders of the Northern Attack Group during rehearsals prior to the
departure for the Marianas target. From left to right: BGen Alfred H.
Noble, assistant division commander, 3d Marine Division; Cdr Patrick
Buchanan, USN, commander, Northern Transport Group; Adm Conolly; MajGen
Allen Turnage, commanding general, 3d Marine Division._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 50235

_Operation Forager_

In late 1943, both the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and, later, the
Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) agreed to the further direction of the
Pacific War. General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Southwest
Pacific Area, was to head north through New Guinea to regain the
Philippines. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, U.S.
Pacific Fleet, and Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPac/CinCPOA), proposed a
move through the Central Pacific to secure a hold in the Marianas.
The strategic bombing of Japan would originate from captured fields
on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. The new strategic weapon for these
attacks would be the B-29 bomber, which had a range of 3,000 miles
while carrying 10,000 pounds of bombs. The code name of the Marianas
operation was “Forager.” The Central Pacific drive began with the
landing on Tarawa in November 1943, followed by the landings in
Kwajalein Atoll on Roi-Namur, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein itself.

In January 1944, Admiral Nimitz made final plans for Guam, and selected
his command structure for the Marianas campaign. Accordingly, Admiral
Raymond A. Spruance, the victor at Midway, was designated commander of
the Fifth Fleet and of all the Central Pacific Task Forces; he would
command all units involved in Forager.

Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, who had commanded naval forces for
the landings at Guadalcanal and Tarawa, headed the Joint Expeditionary
Force (Task Force 51). Turner would also command the Northern Attack
Force for the invasion of Saipan and Tinian. Admiral Conolly, who
had commanded the invasion forces at Roi and Namur in the Marshalls,
would head the Southern Attack Force (Task Force 53) assigned to Guam.
Marine Major General (later Lieutenant General) Holland M. Smith, the
Expeditionary Troops commander for the Marianas, would be responsible
for the Northern Troops and Landing Force at Saipan and Tinian,
essentially the Marine V Amphibious Corps (VAC). Major General Roy S.
Geiger, an aviator who had conducted the Bougainville operation, was
to command the Southern Troops and Landing Force, the III Amphibious
Corps, at Guam.

D-Day for the invasion of Saipan had been set for 15 June. It was an
important date also for the 3d Marine Division, commanded by Major
General Allen H. “Hal” Turnage; the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade
under Brigadier General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.; and the Army’s 77th
Infantry Division under Major General Andrew D. Bruce. They were to
land on Guam on 18 June, but the 3d Division and the brigade first
would wait as floating reserve until the course of operations on Saipan
became clear. The 77th would stand by on Oahu, ready to be called
forward when needed.

Admiral Spruance kept the floating reserve well south and east of
Saipan, out of the path of an expected Japanese naval attack. A
powerful Japanese fleet, eager to close with the American invasion
force, descended upon the Marianas. The opposing carrier groups clashed
nearby in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, one of the major air
battles of the war. The Imperial Navy lost 330 out of the 430 planes it
launched in the fray. The clash (19 June), called “the Great Marianas
Turkey Shoot,” was catastrophic for the Japanese and ended once and for
all any naval or air threat to the Marianas invasion.

With the hard fighting on Saipan turning gradually but inevitably in
favor of the American Marines and soldiers battling the Japanese, the
U.S. Navy was ready to direct its attention to Guam, which was now
slated to receive the most thorough pre-landing bombardment yet seen
in the Pacific War. After weeks at sea, the 3d Division and the 1st
Brigade were given a respite and a chance to go ashore to lose their
“sea legs” after so long a period on board ships. The Task Force 53
convoy moved back to Eniwetok Atoll, whose huge 20-mile-wide lagoon was
rapidly becoming a major forward naval base.

The Marines welcomed the break and the chance to walk on dry land
on the small islands of the atoll. There was even an issue of warm
beer to all those on shore. The Marine veterans of the fighting on
Bougainville, New Georgia, and Eniwetok had a chance to look over the
soldiers of the 305th Regimental Combat Team, which now came forward
from Oahu to be attached briefly to the brigade for the landing on
Guam, set for 21 July and designated W-Day. The rest of the Army
contingent, the 77th Infantry Division, was well trained and well led,
and was scheduled to arrive at the target on W plus 1, 22 July.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 90434

_BGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commanding General, 1st Provisional
Marine Brigade and his principal officers, from left, Col John T.
Walker, brigade chief of staff; LtCol Alan Shapley, commander, 4th
Marines; and Col Merlin T. Schneider, commander, 22d Marines, view a
relief map of Guam for the brigade’s operation._]

The 3d Marine Division, composed of the 3d, 9th, and 21st Marines
(rifle regiments), the 12th Marines (artillery), and the 19th Marines
(engineers and pioneers), plus supporting troops, numbered 20,238 men.
It had received its baptism of fire on Bougainville in November and
December 1943 and spent the intervening months on Guadalcanal training
and absorbing casualty replacements. The 1st Provisional Marine
Brigade, which was organized on Guadalcanal, was also a veteran outfit.
One of its infantry regiments, the 4th Marines, was formed from the
disbanded raider battalions which had fought in the Solomons. The other
once-separate regiment, the 22d Marines, was blooded in the seizure
of Eniwetok in February 1944. Both regiments had 75mm pack howitzer
battalions attached, which now joined brigade troops. In all, the
brigade mustered 9,886 men.

Corps troops of the III Corps was heavy with artillery and would use
every gun. III Corps had three battalions of 155mm howitzers and guns
and the 9th and 14th Defense Battalions, whose 90mm guns could and
would fire at both air and ground targets.

For the handling of casualties, III Corps had a medical battalion, with
equipment and supplies to operate a 1,500-bed hospital. In addition,
the 1st Brigade had two medical companies; the 3d Division its own
medical battalion; and the 77th Division a fully staffed and equipped
Army field hospital. Each of the divisions had a medium tank battalion
and a full complement of engineers, augmented by two Marine separate
engineer battalions and two naval construction battalions (Seabees).
Two amphibian tractor battalions and an armored amphibian battalion
would carry the assault waves to shore. All in all, the III Amphibious
Corps was prepared to land more than 54,000 soldiers, sailors, and

[Illustration: _En route to Guam on board the command ship USS_
Appalachian _(AGC 1), Marine III Amphibious Corps commander, MajGen Roy
S. Geiger; his chief of staff, Col Merwin H. Silverthorn; and the Corps
Artillery commander, BGen Pedro A. del Valle, all longtime Marines
and World War I veterans, review their copy of the Guam relief map to
assist in their estimates and plans for the operation._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87140

Waiting for the attack and sure that it would come, but not where, was
the Japanese _29th Infantry Division_ under Lieutenant General Takeshi
Takashina. The _29th_ had served in Japan’s _Kwantung Army_, operating
and training in Manchuria until it was sent to the Marianas in February
1944. One of its regiments, the _18th_, fell victim to an American
submarine, the _Trout_, and lost 2,200 of its 3,500 men when its
transport was sunk. Reorganized on Saipan, the _18th Infantry Regiment_
took two infantry battalions to Guam, together with two companies of

[Illustration: _Imperial Japanese Army LtGen Takeshi Takashina,
commander of the_ 29th Infantry Division, _which came to Guam from
Manchuria in early 1944, where it was part of the_ Kwantung Army,
_was killed on 28 July while directing the evacuation of his Fonte

Another of the _29th_’s regiments garrisoned Tinian and the remaining
unit, the _38th Infantry_, together with division headquarters troops,
arrived on Guam in March. The other major Army defending units were
the _48th Independent Mixed Brigade_ and the _10th Independent Mixed
Regiment_, both formed on Guam in March from a six-battalion infantry,
artillery, and engineer force sent from the _Kwantung Army_. With
miscellaneous supporting troops, the total Army defending force
numbered about 11,500 men. Added to these were 5,000 naval troops
of the _54th Keibitai_ (guard force) and about 2,000 naval airmen
reorganized as infantry to defend Orote Peninsula and its airfield.
General Takashina was in overall tactical command of the 18,500
Army and Navy defenders. His immediate superior, Lieutenant General
Hideyoshi Obata, commanding the _Thirty-first Army_, was also on Guam,
though not intentionally. Returning to his Saipan headquarters from an
inspection trip to the Palau Islands, Obata was trapped on Guam by the
American landing on Saipan. He left the conduct of Guam’s defense to

The fact that the Americans were to assault Guam was no secret to its
defenders. The invasion of Saipan and a month-long bombardment by ships
and planes left only the question of when and where. With only 15 miles
of potential landing beaches along the approachable west coast, the
Japanese could not be very wrong no matter where they defended.

[Illustration: GUAM


21 JULY 1944]

Tokyo Rose said they expected us. On board ship, the Americans heard
her and her pleasant beguiling voice on the radio. While she made
threats of dire things to happen to invasion troops, she was never
taken seriously by any of her American “fans.”

[Illustration: _LtGen Hideyoshi Obata_, Thirty-first Army _commander,
who took command of the defense of Guam after Gen Takashina’s death,
was himself killed by soldiers of the 306th Infantry, when they overran
the Mataguac command post._]

Major General Kiyoshi Shigematsu, shoring up the morale of his _48th
Independent Mixed Brigade_, told his men: “The enemy, overconfident
because of his successful landing on Saipan, is planning a reckless
and insufficiently prepared landing on Guam. We have an excellent
opportunity to annihilate him on the beaches.”

Premier Hideki Tojo, supreme commander of the war effort for Japan,
also had spirited words for his embattled commanders: “Because the fate
of the Japanese empire depends on the result of your operation, inspire
the spirit of officers and men and to the very end continue to destroy
the enemy gallantly and persistently; thus alleviate the anxiety of the

Back to visit Guam a half century later, a former Japanese lieutenant
said the tremendous American invasion fleet offshore had “paved the
sea” and recalled what he thought on 21 July: “This is the day I will

“Conditions,” said Admiral Conolly, “are most favorable for a
successful landing.”

[Sidebar (page 4): General Allan H. Turnage


Allan H. Turnage was commissioned in 1913, and went to France as
commanding officer of the 5th Machine Gun Battalion, 5th Brigade
of Marines. In the interwar period, Turnage had an assortment of
assignments to sea duty and to duty overseas, and in 1935 he reported
as director of The Basic School, then at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. At
the outset of World War II, he commanded Camp Lejeune and its training
center, which was responsible for the organization and training of two
regimental combat teams slated for duty with the 3d Marine Division. In
October 1942 he became assistant division commander of the 3d Marine
Division and its commander the next September. General Turnage led the
division in the landing on Bougainville and the liberation of Guam.
Following the end of the war, he became Assistant Commandant of the
Marine Corps. Lieutenant General Turnage’s final assignment was command
of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor. Upon his retirement in
1948, because he was decorated in combat, he received a fourth star. He
died in October 1971.

[Sidebar (page 4): General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.


Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., was in his senior year at the Virginia
Military Institute and had not yet graduated when he was commissioned
in the Marine Corps. He sailed to France as a member of the 5th
Regiment of Marines, part of the 4th Brigade of Marines. He saw
considerable action in the war--he was wounded twice at Belleau Wood
and after recovering from his wounds and rejoining his regiment for
the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives, he was wounded for a
third time in the latter. Shepherd served in the Army of Occupation in
Germany, and on his return home, became aide to the Commandant and at
the White House. During the interwar period, he had a mix of school,
staff, and command assignments. In March 1942, he assumed command
of the 9th Marines and took it overseas as part of the 3d Marine
Division. Upon promotion to flag rank in July 1943, he was assigned to
the 1st Marine Division as assistant division commander and, as such,
participated in the Cape Gloucester operation. He assumed command of
the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in May 1944, and led it in the
landing on Guam. Following this operation, he received his second star
and took command of the 6th Marine Division, which was formed from the
brigade and participated in the landings on Okinawa. General Shepherd
commanded Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in the first two years of the
Korean War, and then was chosen as the 20th Commandant of the Marine
Corps. General Shepherd died at the age of 94 in 1990.

[Sidebar (page 5): Major General Andrew D. Bruce

Andrew D. Bruce, a native of Missouri and a graduate of Texas A&M in
1916, was commissioned an Army second lieutenant in June 1917. His
association with the Marine Corps goes back to World War I, when as
a member of the 2d Infantry Division’s 5th Machine Gun Battalion,
he participated in actions in France in the Troyon Sector near
Verdun, in the Aisne Defensive operation near Chateau Thierry, the
Aisne-Marne offensive at Soissons, the fighting at St. Mihiel, and
the Meuse-Argonne offensive at Blanc Mont. With the rest of the 2d
Division, he hiked into Germany to become part of the occupation force.

In the interwar period, he had a mix of staff, command, and school
assignments. At the outbreak of World War II, then-Lieutenant Colonel
Bruce headed the Army’s Tank Destroyer School, which was first at Camp
Meade, Maryland, then at Camp Hood near Kileen, Texas. He assumed
command of the 77th Infantry Division in May 1943. The division first
saw combat at Guam with the 3d Marine Division and the 1st Provisional
Marine Brigade, and then landed at Leyte for the Philippines operation.
General Bruce’s 77th once again fought with Marines in the landing on
1 April 1945 on Okinawa. When the XXIV Corps attacked to the south,
General Bruce’s soldiers and the 1st Marine Division were neighbors in
the frontlines.

General Bruce retired with three stars as a lieutenant general and died
in 1969.


_Ashore in the North_

Troops of the 3d Marine Division landed virtually in the lap of
the Japanese island commander, General Takashina, whose U-shaped
cave command post, carved out of a sandstone cliff, overlooked the
Asan-Adelup beachhead. The looming heights dominated the beaches,
particularly on the left and center, where the 3d and 21st Marines were
headed for the shore.

W-Day, 21 July 1944, opened as a beautiful day, but it soon turned hazy
as the violent clouds of smoke, dust, and fire spiraled skyward. At
0808 an air observer shouted into his microphone: “First wave on the
beach.” At 0833, the same airborne announcer confirmed the battle was
on, with: “Troops ashore on all beaches.”

The 3d Marines under Colonel W. Carvel Hall struck on the far left of
the 2,500-yard beachhead, the left flank of the division near Adelup
Point. Ahead was Chonito Cliff, a ridge later named Bundschu Ridge,
and high, difficult ground in back of which was the final beachhead
line (FBHL), or first goal of the landing. The center, straight up the
middle, belonged to the 21st Marines, under Colonel Arthur H. “Tex”
Butler. The regiment would drive inland, secure a line of cliffs, and
defend them until the division caught up and was ready to expand the
beachhead outward. Under Colonel Edward A. Craig, the 9th Marines
landed on the right flank near Asan Point, ready to strike inland over
paddies to and across lower and more hospitable hills, but all part of
the same formidable enemy-held ridgeline.

[Illustration: W-DAY ON GUAM

21 JULY 1944


The 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, under Lieutenant Colonel Walter Asmuth,
Jr., caught intense fire from the front and right flank near Asan
Point, and he had to call on tanks for assistance, but one company
got to the ridge ahead quite rapidly and threw the defenders at Asan
Point off balance, making the regiment’s advance easier. (It would also
be up to the 9th Marines to take Cabras, a little island offshore and
hard against Apra Harbor. This would be accomplished with a separate
amphibious landing.) With its 2d and 3d Battalions in the lead, the 9th
Marines drove through its initial objectives quickly and had to slacken
its advance in order not to thin out the division’s lines.

Colonel Butler’s 21st Marines, in a stroke of luck which would later
be called unbelievable, found two unguarded defiles on either side
of the regiment’s zone of action. His troops climbed straight to the
clifftops. No attempt was made to keep contact going up, but, on top,
the 2d and 3d Battalions formed a bridge covering both defiles. The 1st
Battalion swept the area below the cliffs.

The 12th Marines (Colonel John B. Wilson) was quickly on the beach,
with its burdensome guns and equipment, and the 3d Battalion of
Lieutenant Colonel Alpha L. Bowser, Jr., was registered and firing
by 1215. By 1640 every battery was in position and in support of the
advance. Captain Austin P. Gattis of the 12th Marines attributed the
success of his regiment in setting up quickly to “training, because we
had done it over, and over, and over. It was efficiency learned and
practiced and it always gave the 12th a leg up.”

On the far left, the 3d Marines was getting the worst of the enemy’s
increasing resistance. The regiment received intense mortar and
artillery fire coming in and on the beaches, and faced the toughest
terrain--steep cliffs whose approaches were laced with interlocking
bands of Japanese machine gun fire. The cliffs were defended by foes
who knew and used their weapons well. The Japanese, that close, would
roll grenades right down the escarpment onto the Marines. Snipers could
find protection and cover in the countless folds and ridges of the
irregular terrain, and the ridgetops were arrayed like the breastworks
of some nightmarish castle. It appeared that ten on top could hold off
hundreds below.

[Illustration: _Laden amphibious tractors carry troops of the 22d
Marines in the assault wave to Yellow Beaches 1 and 2 south of Agat in
the Southern Sector. Here, they would face murderous fire from Japanese
guns at Gaan Point and from positions overlooking the beaches on Mount
Alifan and Maanot Ridge. Gaan Point was not fully neutralized until
1330, W-Day._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88093

One of the defenders, Lieutenant Kenichi Itoh, recalled that despite
the terrible bombardment, he felt secure, that his countrymen could
hold out for a long time, even win. After the war, recalling his
feelings that eventful day in July 1944, the lieutenant considered it
all a bad dream, “even absurd” to think that his forces could ever
withstand the onslaught.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88160

_Upon reaching the beach, Marines quickly unload over the gunwales of
the amtrac which brought them in and rushed off the beaches. As the
frontlines advanced, succeeding waves of amphibian tractors will carry
the troops further inland._]

On W-Day, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph E. Houser’s 3d Battalion, 3d
Marines, was on the extreme left of the line, facing Adelup Point,
which, with Asan Point, marked the right and left flanks of the
invasion beaches. Houser’s troops could seize the territory in his zone
only with the support of tanks from Company C, 3d Tank Battalion, and
half-track-mounted 75mm guns. Holding up the regimental advance was a
little nose projecting from Chonito Ridge facing the invasion beach
in the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines’ zone. Early on W-Day (about 1045),
Captain Geary R. Bundschu’s Company A was able to secure a foothold
within 100 yards of the crest of this promontory, but could not hold
its positions in the face of intense enfilading machine gun fire.
Captain Bundschu called for stretchers and corpsmen, then requested
permission to disengage. Major Henry Aplington II, commanding the 1st
Battalion, was “unwilling to give up ground in the tight area and told
Captain Bundschu to hold what he had.”

Colonel Hall ordered the attack to continue in mid-afternoon behind a
massive 81mm mortar barrage. None of the companies of Major Aplington’s
battalion or Lieutenant Colonel Hector de Zayas’ 2d Battalion could
gain any ground beyond what they already precariously held. Their
opponent, the _320th Independent Infantry Battalion_ held fast.

A couple of hours later, Colonel Hall ordered another attack, with
Companies A and E in the fore. Major Aplington recalled:

  When the 1700 attack went off, it was no change. E made little
  progress and the gallant men of A Company attacked again and again,
  reached the top but could not hold. Geary Bundschu was killed and
  the company slid back to the former positions.

In the morning light of 22 July (W plus 1), that small but formidable
Japanese position still held firmly against the 3d Marines’ advance.
During the bitter fighting of the previous day, Private First Class
Luther Skaggs, Jr., of the 3d Battalion, led a mortar section through
heavy enemy fire to support the attack, then defended his position
against enemy counterattacks during the night although badly wounded.
For conspicuous gallantry and bravery beyond the call of duty, he was
awarded the Medal of Honor. On the 22d, Private First Class Leonard
F. Mason, a Browning automatic rifleman of the 2d Battalion, earned
a posthumous Medal of Honor for single-handedly attacking and wiping
out an enemy machine gun position which threatened his unit. Although
wounded severely, he rejoined his fellow Marines to continue the
attack, but succumbed to his fatal wounds.

[Illustration: _Seen from the air, 9th and 21st Marines assault Green
and Blue Beaches in the Northern Sector on 21 July, W-Day. In the
right, Asan Point casts a foreboding shadow over that portion of the
landing area. Note LSTs beaching at the left._]

During the day’s bitter fighting, Colonel Hall tried to envelop the
Japanese, using Companies A and C of Aplington’s battalion and Company
E of de Zayas’. On regimental orders, Aplington kicked it off at 1150.
It also got nowhere at first. Company A got to the top but was thrown
off. Company E was able to move ahead very slowly. Probe after probe,
it found Japanese resistance perceptibly weakening. By 1900, the men of
E reached the top, above Company A’s position. The Japanese had pulled
back. In the morning, a further advance confirmed the enemy withdrawal.

[Illustration: _BEACH SKETCH_


Taken From TF 53 Op Plan A162-44]

[Sidebar (page 9): 3d Marine Division Insignia


The insignia of the 3d Marine Division was adopted on 25 August 1943,
when the division was in training on Guadalcanal for the upcoming
invasion of Bougainville. Approved in 3d Marine Division Memorandum
274-43, the insignia consisted of a caltrop on a triangular,
gold-bordered scarlet shield. The caltrop was a medieval defensive
weapon used against both cavalry and infantry. During the warfare of
the Middle Ages, large numbers of caltrops were scattered by defenders
on the ground in front of an approaching enemy. The four-pronged,
forged-iron caltrop was designed so that no matter which way it landed
when thrown on the ground, one point would be up with the other
three points supporting it. When used on the insignia, the caltrop
represented not only the 3d Marine Division, but also the motto painted
on the drums carried by the Continental Marines in the American
Revolution: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

_The Southern Beaches_

In the south at Agat, despite favorable terrain for the attack, the 1st
Brigade found enemy resistance at the beachhead to be more intense than
that which the 3d Division found on the northern beaches. Small arms
and machine gun fire, and the incessant fires of two 75mm guns and a
37mm gun from a concrete blockhouse with a four-foot thick roof built
into the nose of Gaan Point, greeted the invading Marines as the LVTs
churned ashore. The structure had been well camouflaged and not spotted
by photo interpreters before the landing nor, unfortunately, selected
as a target for bombing. As a result, its guns knocked out two dozen
amtracs carrying elements of the 22d Marines. For the assault forces’
first hours ashore on W-Day on the southern beaches, the Gaan position
posed a major problem.

[Illustration: _FRONTLINE--W-DAY_


Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

The assault at Agat was treated to the same thunderous naval gunfire
support which had disrupted and shook the ground in advance of the
landings on the northern beaches at Asan. When the 1st Brigade assault
wave was 1,000 yards from the beach, hundreds of 4.5-inch rockets from
LCI(G)s (Landing Craft, Infantry, Gunboat) slammed into the strand. It
would be the last of the powerful support the troops of the brigade in
assault would get before they touched down on Guam.

While the LVTs, the DUKWs (amphibious trucks), and the LCVPs were
considerably off shore, there was virtually no enemy fire from the
beach. An artillery observation plane reported no observed enemy
fire. The defenders at Agat, however, _1st_ and _2d Battalions, 38th
Infantry_, would respond in their own time. The loss of so many amtracs
as the assault waves neared the beaches meant that, later in the day,
there would not be enough LVTs for the transfer of all supplies and men
from boats to amtracs at the Agat reef. This shortage of tractors would
plague the brigade until well after W-Day.

The damage caused to assault and cargo craft on the reef, and the
precision of Japanese guns became real concerns to General Shepherd.
Some of the Marines and most of the soldiers who came in after the
first assault waves would wade ashore with full packs, water to the
waist or higher, facing the perils of both underwater shellholes and
Japanese fire. Fortunately, by the time the bulk of the 77th Division
waded in, these twin threats were not as great because the Marines
ashore were spread out and keeping the Japanese occupied.

The Japanese Agat command had prepared its defenses well with
thick-walled bunkers and smaller pillboxes. The 75mm guns on Gaan
Point were in the middle of the landing beaches. Crossfire from Gaan
coordinated with the machine guns on nearby tiny Yona island to rake
the beaches allocated to the 4th Marines under Lieutenant Colonel
Alan Shapley. The 4th Marines was to establish its beachhead, and
protect the right or southernmost flank. After bitter fighting, the 4th
Marines forged ahead on the low ground to its front and cleared Bangi
Point where bunker walls could withstand a round from a battleship.
Lieutenant Colonel Shapley set up a block on what was to be known as
Harmon Road leading down from the mountains to Agat. A lesson well
learned in previous operations was that the Japanese would be back in
strength and at night.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 94137

_In quick order, the 105mm howitzers of LtCol Alpha L. Bowser’s
3d Battalion, 12th Marines, were landed and set up in camouflaged
positions to support the attack._]

When the Marines landed, they found an excellent but undermanned
Japanese trench system on the beaches, and while the pre-landing
bombardment had driven enemy defenders back into their holes, they
nonetheless were able to pour heavy machine gun and mortar fire down
on the invaders. Pre-landing planning called for the Marine amtracs to
drive 1,000 yards inland before discharging their embarked Marines,
but this tactic failed because of a heavily mined beachhead, with its
antitank ditches and other obstacles. However, the brigade attack
ashore was so heavy, with overwhelming force the Marines were able to
break through, and by 1034, the assault forces were 1,000 yards inland,
and the 4th Marines’ reserve battalion had landed. After receiving
extremely heavy fire from all emplaced Japanese forces, the Marines
worked on cleaning out bypassed bunkers together with the now-landed
tanks. By 1330, the Gaan Point blockhouse had been eliminated by taking
the position from the rear and blasting the surprised enemy gunners
before they could offer effective resistance. At this time also, the
brigade command group was on the beach and General Shepherd had opened
his command post.


_21-24 JULY_


The 22d Marines, led by Colonel Merlin F. Schneider, was battered by
a hail of small arms and mortar fire on hitting its assigned beach,
and suffered heavy losses of men and equipment in the first minutes.
Private First Class William L. Dunlap could vouch for the high
casualties. The dead, Dunlap recalled, included the battalion’s beloved
chaplain, who had been entrusted with just about everybody’s gambling
money “to hold for safekeeping,” the Marines never for a minute
considering that he was just as mortal as they. The 1st Battalion, 22d
Marines (Lieutenant Colonel Walfried H. Fromhold), had left its section
of the landing zone and moved to the shattered town of Agat, after
which the battalion would drive north and eventually seal off heavily
defended Orote Peninsula, shortly to be the scene of a major battle.

The 22d Marines’ 2d Battalion, (Lieutenant Colonel Donn C. Hart), in
the center of the beachhead, quickly and easily moved 1,000 yards
directly ahead inland from the beach. The battalion could have gone
on to one of the W-Day goals, the local heights of Mount Alifan, if
American bombs had not fallen short, halting the attack.

[Illustration: _Often, in attacking up the ridges, there was very
little cover and hardly any concealment as the Marines and soldiers
advanced in the face of heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire.
Evacuation was extremely difficult under these conditions._]

[Illustration: _Company A, 3d Marines, is in a perilous position on
W-Day plus 1, 22 July, as it is held up on Bundschu Ridge on its way
to Chonito Ridge at the top. The troops were halted by Japanese fire,
which prevented immediate reinforcement._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87396

The 1st Battalion moved into the ruins of Agat and at 1020 was able to
say, “We have Agat,” although there was still small arms resistance in
the rubble. By 1130 the battalion was also out to Harmon Road, which
led to the northern shoulder of Mount Alifan. Even as Fromhold’s men
made their advances, Japanese shells hit the battalion aid station,
wounding and killing members of the medical team and destroying
supplies. Not until later that afternoon was the 1st Battalion sent
another doctor.

On the right of the landing waves, Major Bernard W. Green’s 1st
Battalion, 4th Marines, ran head-on into a particularly critical hill
mass (Hill 40) near Bangi Point, which had been thoroughly worked over
by the Navy. Hill 40’s unexpectedly heated defense indicated that the
Japanese recognized its importance, commanding the beaches where troops
and supplies were coming ashore. It took tanks and the support of the
3d Battalion to claim the position.

Before dark on W-Day, the 2d Battalion, 22d Marines, could see the
4th Marines across a deep gully. The latter held a thin, twisted line
extending 1,600 yards from the beach to Harmon Road. The 22d Marines
held the rest of a beachhead 4,500 yards long and 2,000 yards deep.

At nightfall of W-Day, General Shepherd summed up to General Geiger:
“Own casualties about 350. Enemy unknown. Critical shortages of fuel
and ammunition all types. Think we can handle it. Will continue as
planned tomorrow.”

Helping to ensure that the Marines would stay on shore once they landed
was a host of unheralded support troops who had been struggling since
daylight to manage the flow of vital supplies to the beaches. Now, as
W-Day’s darkness approached, the 4th Ammunition Company, a black Marine
unit, guarded the brigade’s ammunition depot ashore. During their
sleepless night, these Marines killed 14 demolition-laden infiltrators
approaching the dump.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91176

_A Japanese cave position on the reverse slope of Chonito Ridge offered
protection for the enemy from the prelanding bombardment and enabled
them to reoccupy prepared positions from which they could oppose the
advance of the 3d Marines._]

Faulty communications delayed the order to land the Army’s 305th
Regimental Combat Team (Colonel Vincent J. Tanzola), elements of
the assault force, for hours. Slated for a morning landing, the 2d
Battalion of Lieutenant Colonel Robert D. Adair did not get ashore
until well after nightfall. As no amtracs were then available, the
soldiers had to walk in from the reef. Some soldiers slipped under
water into shellholes and had to swim for their lives in a full tide.
The rest of the 305th had arrived on the beach, all wet, some seasick,
by 0600 on W plus-1.

[Sidebar (page 15): Medal of Honor Recipients


Private First Class Luther Skaggs, Jr.’s Medal of Honor citation reads
as follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk
of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as squad
leader with a mortar section of a rifle company in the 3d Battalion,
3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese
forces on the Asan-Adelup beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands, 21-22 July
1944. When the section leader became a casualty under a heavy mortar
barrage shortly after landing, Private First Class Skaggs promptly
assumed command and led the section through intense fire for a distance
of 200 yards to a position from which to deliver effective coverage
of the assault on a strategic cliff. Valiantly defending this vital
position against strong enemy counterattacks during the night, Private
First Class Skaggs was critically wounded when a Japanese grenade
lodged in his foxhole and exploded, shattering the lower part of one
leg. Quick to act, he applied an improvised tourniquet and, while
propped up in his foxhole, gallantly returned the enemy’s fire with
his rifle and hand grenades for a period of 8 hours, later crawling
unassisted to the rear to continue the fight until the Japanese had
been annihilated. Uncomplaining and calm throughout this critical
period, Private First Class Skaggs served as a heroic example of
courage and fortitude to other wounded men and, by his courageous
leadership and inspiring devotion to duty, upheld the high traditions
of the United States naval service.”


Private First Class Leonard Foster Mason’s Medal of Honor citation
reads as follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the
risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an automatic
rifleman serving with the Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine
Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup
Beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands, on 22 July 1944. Suddenly taken
under fire by two enemy machine guns not more than 15 yards away while
clearing out hostile positions holding up the advance of his platoon
through a narrow gully, Private First Class Mason, alone and entirely
on his own initiative, climbed out of the gully and moved parallel
to it toward the rear of the enemy position. Although fired upon
immediately by hostile riflemen from a higher position and wounded
repeatedly in the arm and shoulder, Private First Class Mason grimly
pressed forward and had just reached his objective when hit again by
a burst of enemy machine-gun fire, causing a critical wound to which
he later succumbed. With valiant disregard for his own peril, he
persevered, clearing out the hostile position, killing five Japanese,
wounding another and then rejoining his platoon to report the results
of his action before consenting to be evacuated. His exceptionally
heroic act in the face of almost certain death enabled his platoon to
accomplish its mission and reflects the highest credit upon Private
First Class Mason and the United States naval service. He gallantly
gave his life for his country.”

[Sidebar (page 16): The Taking of Chonito Ridge

_The following is a dispatch written by Marine Combat Correspondent
Private First Class Cyril J. O’Brien in the field after the combat
action he describes in his story. It was released for publication in
the United States sometime after the event (always after families were
notified of the wounding or death of the Marines mentioned.) This story
is reprinted from the carbon copy of the file which he retained of the
stories he filed from the Pacific._


Guam July 24 (Delayed)--The first frontal attack on steep Chonito Ridge
was made one hour after the Marine landing.

An infantry squad, led by Second Lieutenant James A. Gallo, 24, 172
Broadway, Haverstraw, N.Y., approached to within ten yards of the tip.
The crest bloomed with machine gun fire. In the face of it the Marine
company tried its first assault. The company was thrown back before it
had advanced forty yards.

For fifty hours the company remained on the naked slope, trying again
and again to storm the Jap entrenchments hardly one hundred yards away.
Battered almost to annihilation, the tenacious Marines finally saw
another company take the ridge from the rear.

Failing in the first rush the company had formed a flimsy defense line
not fifty yards from the enemy. Cover was scant. Some Marines had only
tufts of grass to shield them. The Japs were rolling grenades down the
crest, and blasting the Marines with knee mortars from over the summit.

Under the cover of dusk the company commander led a second attack.
As the Marines rose machine gun fire swept into them. The commander,
and three Marines reached the crest. The last fifty feet were almost
vertical. The attackers grasped roots and dug their feet into the soft
earth to keep from falling down the incline.

The commander went over the ridge. He never came back. The remaining
three Marines were ripped by cross fire. One saved himself by jumping
into an enemy fox hole.

Beaten again, the company retired to a small ravine, and remained there
all night. One Marine, shot through both legs, was asking for morphine.
Another’s thigh was ripped by shell fragments. A PFC, his dry tongue
swollen, tried to whisper the range of an enemy sniper.

At eleven in the morning of the 22d, with little more than a third of
their original number, the company rushed the hillside again.

Lieutenant Gallo led an assault on the left flank of the hill, but he
was thrown back. Sergeant Charles V. Bomar, 33, 4002 Gulf St., Houston,
Tex., with nine Marines attempted to take the right ground of the
slope. Five were killed as they left the ravine. The sergeant and three
others reached the top of the slope.

The Japs again rolled grenades down the incline. One exploded under the
chest of a Marine nearby, blowing off his head. Another grenade bounced
off the helmet of the sergeant. It was a dud.

The Marines charged into the Jap entrenchment. The sergeant killed a
Jap machine gunner with the butt of his carbine. The assistant gunner
exploded a grenade against his body. The blast threw the Marines out of
the hole. They jumped into vacated enemy foxholes. A lieutenant who had
come to join them was shot between the eyes by a sniper. The sergeant
killed the sniper with his carbine.

Unable to hold their positions, the sergeant and his companies returned
to the shelter of the ravine. With the shattered remnants of the
company they waited for nearly another 24 hours, until darting Marines
on the top of the ridge showed Chonito had been taken from the rear.

_Field commanders soon came to appreciate the effect
these so-called “Joe Blow” stories had on the morale of their men. The
stories were printed in hometown newspapers and were clipped and sent
to the troops in the Pacific, who could then see that their efforts
were being publicized and appreciated at home._

_Colonel Suenaga Attacks_

Colonel Tsunetaro Suenaga, commanding officer of the _38th Regiment_,
from his command post on Mount Alifan, had seen the Americans overwhelm
his forces below. Desperate to strike back, he telephoned General
Takashina at 1730 to get permission for an all-out assault to drive
the Marines into the sea. He had already ordered his remaining units
to assemble for the counterattack. The _29th Division_ commander
was not at first receptive. Losses would be too high and the _38th
Regiment_ would serve better defending the high ground and thereby
threatening the American advance. Reluctantly however, Takashina gave
his permission, and ordered the survivors to fall back on Mount Alifan
if the attack failed, which he was certain it would. Eventually Colonel
Suenaga was forced to share the general’s pessimism, for he burned his
regiment’s colors to prevent their capture.

At the focal point of the enemy’s attack from the south, Hill 40, the
brunt of the fighting fell upon First Lieutenant Martin J. “Stormy”
Sexton’s Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines. The enemy’s _3d
Battalion, 38th Regiment_ coming north from reserve positions was still
relatively intact. In the face of Japanese assaults, the company held,
but just barely. Sexton recalls Lieutenant Colonel Shapley’s assessment
of the night’s fighting: “If the Japanese had been able to recapture
Hill 40, they could have kicked our asses off the Agat beaches.”

Major Anthony N. “Cold Steel” Walker, S-3 (operations officer) of the
3d Battalion, recalled that the Japanese, an estimated 750 men, hit
the company at about 2130, with the main effort coming to the left or
east of the hill. He remembered:

  Finding a gap in our lines and overrunning the machine gun which
  covered the gap the enemy broke through and advanced toward the
  beaches. Some elements turned to their left and struck Hill 40 from
  the rear. K Company with about 200 men fought them all night long
  from Hill 40 and a small hill to the rear and northeast of Hill 40.
  When daylight came the Marines counterattacked with two squads from
  L Company ... and two tanks ... and closed the gap. A number of men
  from Company K died that night but all 750 Japanese soldiers were
  killed. The hill ... represents in miniature or symbolically the
  whole hard-fought American victory on Guam.

Along the rest of the Marine front, and in the reserve areas, the
fighting was hot and heavy as the rest of the _38th_ attacked. Colonel
Suenaga pushed his troops to attack again and again, in many cases only
to see them mowed down in the light of American flares. No novice to
Japanese tactics, General Shepherd had anticipated this first night’s
attack and was ready.

[Illustration: _BEACH SKETCH_


Taken From TF 53 Op Plan A162-44]

Enemy reconnaissance patrols were numerous around 2130, trying to draw
fire and determine Marine positions. Colonel Suenaga was out in front
of the center thrust which began at 2330 after a brisk mortar flurry
on the right flank of the 4th Marines. The Japanese came on in full
force, yelling, charging with their rifles carried at high port, and
throwing grenades. The Marines watched the dark shadows moving across
the skyline under light of star shells from the ships. Men lined up
hand grenades, watched, waited, and then reacted. The Japanese were
all around, attempting to bayonet Marines in their foxholes. They even
infiltrated down to pack-howitzer positions in the rear of the front
lines. It was the same for the 22d Marines. A whole company of Japanese
closed to the vicinity of the regimental command post. The defense
here was held largely by a reconnaissance platoon headed by Lieutenant
Dennis Chavez, Jr., who personally killed five of the infiltrators at
point-blank range with a Thompson sub-machine gun.

Four enemy tanks in that same attack lumbered down Harmon Road. There
they met a bazooka man from the 4th Marines, Private First Class
Bruno Oribiletti. He knocked out the first two enemy tanks and Marine
Sherman tanks of Lieutenant James R. Williams’ 4th Tank Company platoon
finished off the rest. Oribiletti was killed; he was posthumously
awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery. Enemy troops of the _38th_ also
stumbled into the barely set up perimeter of the newly arrived 305th
Infantry and paid heavily for it.

After one day and night of furious battle the _38th_ ceased to exist.
Colonel Suenaga, wounded in the first night’s counterattack, continued
to flail at the Marines until he, too, was cut down. Takashina ordered
the shattered remnants of the regiment north to join the reserves he
would need to defend the high ground around Fonte Ridge above the
Asan-Adelup beachhead. The general would leave his troops on Orote to
fend for themselves.

_Fonte Ridge_

The two days of fierce fighting on the left of the 3d Division’s
beachhead in the area that was now dubbed Bundschu Ridge cost the 3d
Marines 615 men killed, wounded, and missing. The 21st Marines in the
center held up its advance on 22 July until the 3d Marines could get
moving, but the men in their exposed positions along the top of the
ridge, seized so rapidly on W-Day, were hammered by Japanese mortar
fire, so much so that Colonel Butler received permission to replace
the 2d Battalion by the 1st, which had been in division reserve.
The 9th Marines met relatively little resistance as it overran many
abandoned Japanese positions in its drive toward the former American
naval base at Piti on the shore of Apra Harbor. The 3d Battalion, after
a heavy barrage of naval gunfire and bombs, assaulted Cabras Island
in mid-afternoon, landing from LVTs to find its major obstacle dense
brambles with hundreds of mines.

General Turnage, assessing the situation as he saw it on the eve of 22
July reported to General Geiger:

  Enemy resistance increased considerably today on Div left and
  center. All Bn’s of 3rd CT [combat team] have been committed in
  continuous attack since landing. 21st CT less 1 Bn in Div Res
  has been committed continuously with all units in assault. One
  of the assault Bn’s of 21st CT is being relieved on line by Div
  Res Bn today. Former is approx 40 percent depleted. Since further
  advance will continue to thin our lines it is now apparent that an
  additional CT is needed. 9th CT is fully committed to the capture
  of Piti and Cabras. Accordingly it is urgently recommended that an
  additional CT be attached this Div at the earliest practicable date.

Turnage did not get the additional regiment he sought. The night of W
plus 1 was relatively quiet in the 3d Division’s sector except for the
1st Battalion, 21st Marines, which repulsed a Japanese counterattack
replete with a preliminary mortar barrage followed by a bayonet charge.

On the 23d, III Amphibious Corps Commander, General Geiger, well aware
that the majority of Japanese troops had not yet been encountered,
told the 3d Division that it was “essential that close contact between
adjacent units be established by later afternoon and maintained
throughout the night” unless otherwise directed. Despite the order
to close up and keep contact, the 3d Division was spread too thinly
to hold what it had seized in that day’s advance. When it halted to
set up for the night, it was found that the distance between units
had widened. When night fell, the frontline troops essentially held
strongpoints with gaps between them covered by interlocking bands of


Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

The 3d Marines reached the high ground of Bundschu Ridge on the 23d
and searched out the remaining Japanese stragglers. It was obvious that
the enemy had withdrawn from the immediate area and equally plain that
the Japanese hadn’t gone far. When patrols from the 21st Marines tried
to link up with the 3d Marines, they were driven back by the fire of
cleverly hidden machine guns, all but impossible to spot in the welter
of undergrowth and rock-strewn ravines. All across the ridges that the
Marines held, there were stretches of deadly open ground completely
blanketed by enemy fire from still higher positions. On the night of
the 23d, the 9th Marines made good progress moving through more open
territory which was dotted by hills, each of which was a potential
enemy bastion. A patrol sent south along the shoreline to contact
the 1st Brigade took fire from the hills to its left and ran into an
American artillery and naval gunfire concentration directed at Orote’s
defenders. The patrol was given permission to turn back.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87239

_Mount Alifan looms over the men of the 4th Marines as they move
through the foothills to the attack. In the background, a plane being
used for observation keeps track of the front lines for controlling the
fire of ships’ guns and supporting artillery._]

On the 24th, the 3d and 21st Marines finally made contact on the
heights, but the linkup was illusory. There were no solid frontlines,
only strongpoints. No one could be certain that the Japanese had all
been accounted for in the areas that had been probed, attacked, and
now seemed secure. Every rifleman was well aware that more of the same
lay ahead; he could see his next objectives looming to the front,
across the Mount Tenjo Road, which crossed the high ground that framed
the beachhead. Already the division had suffered more than 2,000
casualties, the majority in infantry units. And yet the Japanese, who
had lost as many and more men in the north alone, were showing no signs
of abandoning their fierce defense. General Takashina was, in fact,
husbanding his forces, preparing for an all-out counterattack, just as
the Marines, north and south, were getting ready to drive to the force
beachhead line (FBHL), the objective which would secure the high ground
and link up the two beachheads.

Since the American landings, Takashina had been bringing troops into
the rugged hills along the Mount Tenjo Road, calling in his reserves
from scattered positions all over the island. By 25 July, he had more
than 5,000 men, principally of the _48th Independent Mixed Brigade_ and
the _10th Independent Mixed Regiment_, assembled and ready to attack.

[Illustration: _Prior to the anticipated American landing on 21 July
1944, LtGen Takeshi Takashina, right, commanding general of the_ 29th
Infantry Division, _inspects defenses on Agat Beach, with Col Tsunetaro
Suenaga, who commanded the_ 38th Infantry.]

The fighting on the 25th was as intense as that on any day since the
landing. The 2d Battalion, 9th Marines (Lieutenant Colonel Robert E.
Cushman, Jr., who was to become the 25th Commandant of the Marine
Corps in 1972), was attached to the 3d Marines to bring a relatively
intact unit into the fight for the Fonte heights and to give the badly
battered 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, a chance to rest and recoup. By
nightfall, Cushman’s men had driven a salient into the Japanese lines,
seizing the Mount Tenjo Road, 400 yards short of the Fonte objective on
the left and 250 yards short on the right.


22-24 JULY 1944]

[Illustration: _During the Japanese counterattack on the night of 21-22
July, this Japanese light tank was destroyed at the Company B, 4th
Marines, roadblock. Note the rubble of the ground thrown up by U.S.
artillery, aerial, and ships’ gunfire bombardments._]

During the day’s relentless and increasingly heavy firefights, the 2d
and 3d Battalions of the 3d Marines had blasted and burned their way
through a barrier of enemy cave defenses and linked up with Cushman’s
outfit on the left. About 1900, Company G of the 9th Marines pulled
back some 100 yards to a position just forward of the road, giving
it better observation and field of fire. Company F had reached and
occupied a rocky prominence some 150 yards ahead of Companies G and
E, in the center of the salient. It pulled back a little for better
defense, and held. Thus the scene was set for the pitched battle of
Fonte Ridge, fought at hand-grenade range and in which casualties
on both sides were largely caused by small arms fire at point-blank
distances. It was in this action that leadership, doggedness, and
organizational skill under fire merited the award of the Medal of Honor
to the Commanding Officer of Company F, Captain Louis H. Wilson, Jr.,
who became the 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1976, following
in the footsteps of his former battalion commander.


22-26 JULY 1944]

[Illustration: _In the aftermath of the Japanese counterattack, bodies
of the attackers were strewn on a hillside typical of the terrain over
which much of the battle was fought._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91435

Captain Wilson was wounded three times leading his own attacks in
the intense crux of this Fonte action, and as his citation relates:
“Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in
furiously waged battle for approximately 10 hours, tenaciously holding
his line and repelling the fanatically renewed counterthrusts until he
succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the hard-pressed Japanese....”


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93106

_Long Toms of Battery A, 7th 155mm Gun Battalion, III Corps Artillery,
were set up in the open 500 yards from White Beach 2 in the shadow of
the mountain range secured by the 4th Marines and the Army’s 305th
Infantry after heavy fighting._]

Captain Wilson organized and led the 17-man patrol which climbed
the slope in the face of the same continued enemy fire to seize the
critical high ground at Fonte and keep it.

A half century later, Colonel Fraser E. West recalled the engagement
at Fonte as bitter, close, and brisk. As a young officer, he commanded
Company G, and reinforced Wilson’s unit. West joined on Company F’s
flank, then reconnoitered to spot enemy positions and shared the night
in a common CP with Captain Wilson.

In late afternoon of the 25th, a platoon of four tanks of Company C, 3d
Tank Battalion, had made its way up to the Mount Tenjo Road and gone
into position facing the most evident Japanese strongpoints. At the
height of the battle by Wilson’s and West’s companies to hold their
positions, First Lieutenant Wilcie A. O’Bannon, executive officer
of Company F, managed to get down slope from his exposed position
and bring up two of these tanks. By use of telephones mounted in the
rear of the tanks to communicate with the Marines inside, Lieutenant
O’Bannon was able to describe targets for the tankers, as he positioned
them in support of Wilson’s and West’s Marines. West recalled the tanks
came up with a precious cargo of ammunition. He and volunteers stuffed
grenades in pockets, hung bandoleers over their shoulders, pocketed
clips, carried grenade boxes on their shoulders, and delivered them all
as they would birthday presents along the line to Companies G and F
and a remaining platoon of Company E. Major West was also able to use
a tank radio circuit to call in naval gunfire, and guarantee that the
terrain before him would be lit all night by star shells and punished
by high explosive naval gunfire.

On the morning of 26 July, 600 Japanese lay dead in front of the 2d
Battalion, 9th Marines positions. But the battle was not over. General
Turnage ordered the military crest of the reverse slope taken. There
would be other Japanese counterattacks, fighting would again be
hand-to-hand, but by 28 July, the capture of Fonte was in question
no longer. Companies E, F, and G took their objectives on the crest.
Lieutenant Colonel Cushman’s battalion in four murderous days had lost
62 men killed and 179 wounded.

It was not any easier for the 21st Marines with its hard fighting in
the morning of the 25th. Only by midafternoon did that regiment clear
the front in the center of the line. The 2d Battalion, 21st Marines,
had to deal with a similar pocket of die-hards as that which had held
up the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, on Fonte. Holed up in commanding
cave positions in the eastern draw of the Asan River, just up from
the beachhead, the Japanese were wiped out only after repeated Marine
attacks and close-in fighting. The official history of the campaign
noted that “every foot of ground that fell to Lieutenant Colonel
[Eustace R.] Smoak’s Marines was paid for in heavy casualties, and
every man available was needed in the assault....”

The 9th Marines under Colonel Craig made good progress on the 25th from
its morning jump-off and reached the day’s objective, a line running
generally along the course of a local river (the Sasa) by 0915. The 9th
Marines had taken even more ground than was planned. General Turnage
was then able to reposition the 9th Marines for the harder fighting
on the beleaguered left. The 2d Battalion pulled out of position to
reinforce the 3d Marines and the remaining two battalions spread out a
little further in position.

The determined counterattack that hit the 3d Marines on the night of
25-26 July was matched in intensity all across the 3d Division’s front.
It wasn’t long before there were enemy troops roaming the rear areas
as they slipped around the Marine perimeters and dodged down stream
valleys and ravines leading to the beaches.

Major Aplington, whose 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, now constituted the
only division infantry reserve, held positions in the hills on the left
in what had been a relatively quiet sector. Not for long, he recalled:

  With the dark came heavy rain. Up on the line Marines huddled
  under ponchos in their wet foxholes trying to figure out the
  meaning of the obvious activity on the part of the opposing
  Japanese. Around midnight there was enemy probing of the lines
  of the 21st [Marines], and slopping over into those of the 9th
  [Marines].... All was quiet in our circle of hills and we received
  no notification when the probing increased in intensity or at 0400
  when the enemy opened ... his attack.... My first inkling came at
  about 0430 when my three companies on the hills erupted into fire
  and called for mortar support. I talked to the company commanders
  and asked what was going on to be told that there were Japanese all
  around them ... the Japanese had been close. Three of my dead had
  been killed by bayonet thrusts.

In the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, sector, Private Dale Fetzer, a dog
handler assigned with his black Labrador Retriever alerted Company C.
The dog, Skipper, who had been asleep in front of his handler’s foxhole
suddenly bolted upright, alerting Fetzer. Skipper’s nose was pointed up
and directly toward Mount Tenjo. “Get the lieutenant!” called handler
Fetzer, “They’re coming.”

At about 0400, the Japanese troops poured down the slopes in a frenzied
_banzai_ attack. Japanese troops had been sighted drinking during the
afternoon in the higher hills, and some of these attackers appeared
drunk. Marine artillery fire had immediately driven them to cover then,
but they apparently continued to prepare for the attack.

In the area of the 21st Marines, along a low ridge not far from the
critical Mount Tenjo Road, the human wave struck hard against the 3d
Battalion and the Japanese actually seized a machine gun which was
quickly recaptured by the Marines. The 3d Division was holding a front
of some 9,000 yards at the time, and it was thinnest from the right
of the 21st Marines to the left of the 9th Marines. Much of that line
was only outposted. The 3d Battalion, 21st Marines, held throughout.
Some of the raiders got through the weakly manned gap between the
battalions. They charged harum-scarum for the tanks, artillery, and
ammunition and supply dumps. The attack seemed scattered, however, and
unorganized. The fighting was fierce, nonetheless, and it shattered the
hastily erected Marine roadblock between the battalions.

Some of the attackers got through the lines all along the front. A
group of about 50 reached the division hospital. Doctors evacuated
the badly wounded, but the walking wounded joined with cooks, bakers,
stretcher bearers, and corpsmen to form the line that fought off the
attackers. One of the patients, Private First Class Michael Ryan,
“grabbed up the blanket covering me and ran out of the building without
another stitch on.” He had to run with a wounded foot through crossfire
to reach some safety.

Lieutenant Colonel George O. Van Orden (3d Division infantry training
officer), on orders from General Turnage, assembled two companies of
the 3d Pioneer Battalion to eliminate this threat. In three hours
the pioneers killed 33 of the assailants and lost three of their own
men. The 3d Medical Battalion had 20 of its men wounded, but only one
patient was hit and he was one of the defenders.

For many men in the furious and confused melees that broke out all over
the Marine positions, the experience of Corporal Charles E. Moore of
the 2d Platoon, Company E, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, wasn’t unique.
His outfit held a position about a quarter mile from Fonte Plateau. He

  We set up where a road made a sharp turn overlooking a draw. It
  was the last stand of the second platoon. There were three attacks
  that night and by the third there was nobody left to fight, so
  they broke through. They came in droves throwing hand grenades and
  hacked up some of our platoon. In the morning, I had only ten
  rounds of ammunition left, half the clip for my BAR. I was holding
  those rounds if I needed them to make a break for it. I had no
  choice. Everybody was quiet, either dead or wounded. The Japanese
  came in to take out their dead and wounded, and stepped on the edge
  of my foxhole. I didn’t breath. They were milling around there
  until dawn then they were gone.

As Lieutenant Colonel Cushman, evaluating the action later, said:

  With the seizure of Fonte Hill, the capture of the beachhead
  was completed. In the large picture, the defeat of the large
  counterattack on the 26th by the many battalions of the 3d Division
  who fought valiantly through the bloody night finished the Jap on
  Guam.... What made the fighting for Fonte important was the fact
  that [the advance to the north end of the island] could not take
  place until it was seized.

The enemy attack failed in the south also, and in the south it was just
as much touch and go at times. The Japanese sailors on Orote were just
as determined as the soldiers at Fonte to drive the Americans from Guam.

[Sidebar (page 24): General Robert E. Cushman


As a 29-year-old lieutenant colonel commanding the 2d Battalion, 9th
Marines, 3d Marine Division, on Guam, Robert E. Cushman, Jr., was
awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism during the period 21
July to 30 August 1944. The medal citation states in part:

  When his battalion was ordered to seize and hold a strongly
  organized and defended enemy strong-point which had been holding
  up the advance for some days, Lieutenant Colonel Cushman directed
  the attacks of his battalion and the repulse of numerous Japanese
  counterattacks, fearlessly exposing himself to heavy hostile rifle,
  machine gun and mortar fire in order to remain in the front lines
  and obtain first hand knowledge of the enemy situation. Following
  three days of bitter fighting culminating in a heavy Japanese
  counterattack which pushed back the flank of his battalion, he
  personally led a platoon into the gap and, placing it for defense,
  repelled the hostile force. By his inspiring leadership, courage
  and devotion to duty, he contributed materially to the success of
  the mission with the annihilation of one enemy battalion and the
  rout of another....

General Cushman became the 25th Commandant of the Marine Corps on 1
January 1972. Interestingly enough, he was succeeded four years later
by General Louis H. Wilson, Jr., who commanded a company in Cushman’s
2d Battalion, 9th Marines, on Guam.

[Sidebar (page 25): ‘Daring Tactics’ Gave Capt Wilson Medal of Honor


Captain Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr.’s Medal of Honor citation reads as
follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of
his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of
a rifle company attached to the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine
Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam,
25-26 July 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his
zone of action, Captain Wilson initiated his attack in midafternoon,
pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machine gun and
rifle fire for 300 yards and successfully captured the objective.
Promptly assuming command of other disorganized units and motorized
equipment in addition to his own company and one reinforcing platoon,
he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire
and, although wounded three times during this 5-hour period, completed
his disposition of men and guns before retiring to the company command
post for medical attention. Shortly thereafter, when the enemy launched
the first of a series of savage counterattacks lasting all night, he
voluntarily rejoined his besieged units and repeatedly exposed himself
to the merciless hail of shrapnel and bullets, dashing 50 yards into
the open on one occasion to rescue a wounded Marine laying helpless
beyond the front lines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters,
he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately 10 hours,
tenaciously holding his line and repelling the fanatically renewed
counter-thrusts until he succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the
hard-pressed Japanese early the following morning. Then organizing a
17-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential
to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar,
machine gun and rifle fire which struck down 13 of his men, drove
relentlessly forward with the remnants of his patrol to seize the vital
ground. By his indomitable leadership, daring combat tactics, and valor
in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Wilson succeeded in capturing
and holding the strategic high ground in his regimental sector, thereby
contributing essentially to the success of his regimental mission and
to the annihilation of 350 Japanese troops. His inspiring conduct
throughout the critical periods of this decisive action sustains and
enhances the highest traditions of the United States naval service.”

[Sidebar (page 26): The Colt .45-Caliber M1911A1 Pistol

The Colt M1911A1 pistol was standard issue to many Marine officers,
noncommissioned officers, and specialists not armed with either the M1
carbine or rifle during World War II. From 1911, this pistol served its
Marine owners as well as members of the other U.S. services armed with

The first M1911 pistols were issued to the Marine Corps in 1912, and
shortly afterwards the Corps was able to field this pistol exclusively.
Although Colt manufactured more than 55,000 pistols by the time the
United States entered World War I, not enough were on hand to preclude
arming some units of the American Expeditionary Force with revolvers.
Subsequently, more than a half million M1911s were produced before
1926, when the M1911 was modified and the revised pistol now dubbed the

These modifications included a shorter, and serrated, trigger; wider
sights; a contoured handgrip; and a longer grip safety. Approximately
1.8 million of the newer M1911A1s were produced and the M1911s also
were upgraded to meet these new specifications during World War II.
The advent of World War II also meant further changes for the pistol.
Among these was altering the finish from the common shiny blue-black to
a dull gray, in the process called “Parkerization,” which was designed
to give the pistol a nonreflective matte surface. Wartime M1911A1s also
sported checkered plastic grips instead of molded rubber.

Colt could not keep up with wartime demand, and the following firms
were licensed to produce the M1911A1: Remington Arms Company, North
American Arms Company Limited, Remington-Rand Company, Ithaca Gun
Company, Union Switch and Signal Company, and Singer Sewing Machine
Company. One curious note is that the Remington-Rand Company actually
outproduced Colt during the wartime years by approximately 500,000

During the war, in its table of equipment, a Marine division
rated 1,707 pistols, but the actual number it had was in general
substantially higher; a tribute to the popularity of the M1911A1. A
number of Marine aviators, given the option, chose the .45-caliber Colt
over the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson “Victory” revolver.

    --Second Lieutenant G. M. Anthony, USMC


The 22d Marines had driven up the coast from Agat in a series of
hard-fought clashes with stubborn enemy defenders. The 4th Marines
had swept up the slopes of Mount Alifan and secured the high ground
overlooking the beachhead. By the 25th, the brigade was in line across
the mouth of Orote Peninsula facing a formidable defensive line
in depth, anchored in swamps and low hillocks, concealed by heavy
undergrowth, and bristling with automatic weapons.

[Illustration: _Sherman mediums from the 3d Tank Battalion lumber up
the long incline from the Asan beachhead towards the scene of battle
around Fonte and X-Ray Ridges._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93640

The 77th Infantry Division had taken over the rest of the southern
beachhead, relieving the 4th Marines of its patrolling duties to the
south and in the hills to the west. The division’s artillery and a good
part of the III Corps’ big guns hammered the Japanese on Orote without
letup. Just in case of enemy air attack, the beach defenses from Agat
to Bangi Point were manned by the 9th Defense Battalion. There were
not too many Japanese planes in the sky, and so the antiaircraft
artillerymen could concentrate on firing across the water into the
southern flank of the enemy’s Orote positions. On Cabras Island, the
14th Defense Battalion moved into position where it could equally
provide direct flanking fire on the peninsula’s northern coast and
stand ready to elevate its guns to fire at enemy planes in the skies

The 5,000 Japanese defenders on Orote took part in General Takashina’s
all-out counterattack and it began in the early morning hours of 26
July. The attackers stormed vigorously out of the concealing mangrove
swamp and the response was just as spirited. Here, as in the north,
there was evidence that some of the attackers had fortified themselves
with _sake_ and there were senseless actions by officers who attacked
the Marine tanks armed only with their _samurai_ swords. There were
deadly and professional attacks as well, with Marines bayoneted in
their foxholes. There was one attendant communications breakdown
obliging Captain Robert Frank, commanding officer of Company L, 22d
Marines, to remain on the front relaying artillery spots to the
regimental S-2 and thence to brigade artillery.

[Illustration: _Stretchers for wounded Marines lie scattered among the
bodies of Japanese dead in the wake of the attack on the 3d Division
hospital the evening of 25-26 July. Doctors, corpsmen, and wounded
Marines joined in the fight to repulse the enemy._]

The artillery response was intense and effective. The fire was “drawn
in closer and closer toward our front lines; 26,000 shells were thrown
into the pocket [of attackers] between midnight and 3 a.m.” The
screaming attacks came at 1230, then again at 0130, and at 0300. At
daylight the muddy ground in front of the Marine positions was slick
with blood. More than 400 Japanese bodies were sprawled in the driving

General Shepherd, secure in the knowledge that his frontline troops,
4th Marines on the left, 22d Marines on the right, had withstood
the night’s _banzai_ attacks in good order, directed an attack to
be launched at 0730. But first there would be another artillery
preparation. At daybreak it opened with the 77th Infantry Division’s
105s and 155s, the brigade’s 75s, the defense battalion’s 90s, and
whatever guns the 12th Marines could spare. It was one of the more
intense preparations of the campaign. Major Charles L. Davis, S-3
of 77th Division Artillery, recalled how, on the request of General
Shepherd, he had turned the heavy 155mm battalion and two 105mm
battalions around to face Orote to soften the Japanese positions.
The 155s and 105s battered well-prepared positions, and ripped the
covering, protection, and camouflage from bunkers and trenches. Pieces
of men soon hung in trees. Marines saw that this fire counted and made
it a point to return to congratulate and thank the 77th’s artillery
section leaders.

The advance, when it came, only went 100 yards before it was addressed
by a blistering front of machine gun and small arms fire. Enemy
artillery fire came falling almost simultaneously with the cessation of
American support, leaving the Marines to think the fire was from their
own guns, a favorite Japanese ruse. For a moment there, the Japanese
return fire on the 22d Marines disorganized its forward move. It was
about 0815 before the attack was on again in full force, spearheaded by
Marine and Army tanks.

Immediately to the front of the 22d Marines was the infernal mangrove
swamp from where the _banzai_ attack had been mounted the night before.
It was still manned heavily by Japanese, was dense, and the only means
of penetrating it was by a 200-yard-long corridor along the regimental
boundary which was covered by Japanese enfilade fire and could only be
navigated with the cover of tanks. The armor gunners and commanders
directed their fire just over the head of prone Marines and into the
gunports of enemy pillboxes. By 1245, Colonel Schneider’s regiment
had worked its way through all bottlenecks past the mangrove swamps,
destroying bunkers with demolitions and flamethrowers. The 4th’s
assault battalions kept pace with this advance, finding somewhat easier
terrain but just as determined defenders. By evening the brigade had
advanced 1,500 yards from its jump-off line. Both regiments, weary,
wary, and waiting, dug in with an all-around defense.

Again, there was a heavy pre-attack barrage on the 27th and the Marines
were stopped again before they’d gone 100 yards. The 3d Battalion, 4th
Marines, facing a well-defended ridge, a coconut grove, and a sinister
clearing, was nearing the sentimental and tactically important goals
of the old Marine barracks, its rifle range, and the runways of Orote
airfield. With heavy tank support, the 22d Marines surged forward past
the initial obstacles and by afternoon had reached positions well
beyond the morning’s battles. On the left of the 4th Marines, where
resistance was lighter, the assault was led by tanks that beat down
the brush. While inspecting positions there, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel
D. Puller, the 4th’s executive officer and brother of famed Lieutenant
Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, was killed by a sniper.

By mid-afternoon, the 4th Marines’ assault elements broke out of the
grove just short of the rifle range, only to stall in a new complex at
dug-in defenses and minefields. Strangely, and yet not unusual in the
climax of a losing engagement, a Japanese officer emerged to brandish
his sword at a tank. It was easier than ritual suicide.

The horror of the American guns again must have been too much for the
Japanese defending the immediate front. Surprisingly, they just cut and
ran from their strong, well-defended positions. The elated Marines, who
did not care why the enemy ran--just that they ran--now dug in only 300
yards from the prized targets. Their capture would wait for tomorrow,
28 July. The Japanese were now squeezed into the last quadrant of
the peninsula. All of their strongly entrenched defenses had failed
to hold. The Orote airfield, the old Marine barracks, the old parade
ground which had not felt an American boot since 10 December 1941, were
all about to be retrieved.

General Shepherd sounded a great reveille on 28 July for what was left
of the Japanese naval defenders: a 45-minute air strike and a 30-minute
naval gunfire bombardment, joined by whatever guns the 77th Division,
brigade, and antiaircraft battalions could muster. At 0830 the brigade
would attack for Orote airfield.


25-30 JULY 1944



Colonel Schneider’s 22d Marines would take the barracks and Sumay
and Colonel Shapley’s 4th Marines would take the airfield and the
rifle range. Japanese artillery and mortar fire had diminished, but
small arms and machine guns still spoke intensely when the Marines
attacked. At this bitter end, the Japanese were evoking a last-ditch
stubbornness. American tanks were called up but most had problems with
visibility and control. Wherever the thick scrub brush concealed the
enemy, Major John S. Messers’ 2d Battalion, 4th Marines called for
increased tank support when one of his companies began taking heavy
casualties. In response to General Shepherd’s request, General Bruce
sent forward a platoon of Army tank destroyers and a platoon of light
tanks to beef up the attack.

General Shepherd wanted the battle over now. He ordered a massive
infantry and tank attack which kicked off at 1530 on the 28th. The
Japanese did not intend to oblige this time by quitting; this was do or
die. By nightfall all objectives were in plain sight, but there were
still a few hundred yards to be gained. The Marines stood fast for the
night, hoping the Japanese would sacrifice themselves in counterattack,
but no such luck occurred.

When the attack resumed on the 29th, after the usual Army and Marine
artillery preparation and an awesomely heavy air strike, Army and
Marine tanks led the way onto the airfield. Resistance was meager.
By early afternoon, the airfield was secured and the 22d Marines had
occupied what was left of the old Marine barracks. A bronze plaque,
which had long been mounted at the entrance to the barracks, was
recovered and held for reinstallation at a future date.

The Japanese found this latest advance difficult to accept. Suicides
were many and random. Soldiers jumped off cliffs, hugged exploding
grenades, even cut their own throats.

Private First Class George F. Eftang, with the 4th Marines’ supporting
pack howitzer battalion, saw the suicides: “I could see the Japanese
jumping to their deaths. I actually felt sorry for them. I knew they
had families and sweethearts like anyone else.”

[Illustration: _77th INFANTRY DIVISION SECTOR_

24-27 JULY

_Taken From OCMH Map in GUAM, 77th DIV_

Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

While the embattled peninsula still swarmed with patrols, Admiral
Spruance; Generals Smith, Geiger, Larsen (the future island commander),
and Shepherd; Colonels Shapley and Schneider, and others who could
be spared, arrived for a ceremonial flag raising and heartfelt
tribute to an old barracks and those Marines who had made it home.
General Shepherd called it hallowed ground and told the distinguished
assemblage, which included a hastily cleaned-up honor guard of brigade
troops: “you have avenged the loss of our comrades who were overcome
by a numerically superior force three days after Pearl Harbor. Under
our flag this island again stands ready to fulfill its destiny as an
American fortress in the Pacific.”

Many of the Marines standing at attention, watching the historic
ceremony, could only thank God that they were still alive. At the end
of this ceremony, engineers moved onto the airfield to clear away
debris and fill the many shell and bomb holes.

Only six hours after the first bulldozer clanked onto the runways, a
Navy torpedo bomber made an emergency landing. Soon the light artillery
spotting planes were regularly flying from them.

The capture of Orote Peninsula had cost the brigade 115 men killed,
721 wounded, and 38 missing in action. The enemy toll of counted dead
was 1,633. It was obvious that on Orote as at Fonte, there were many
Japanese still unaccounted for and presumably ready still to fight to
prevent the island’s capture.

[Sidebar (page 27): War Dogs on Guam

In the late summer of 1942, the Marine Corps decided to experiment
with the use of dogs in war, which may have been a new departure for
the Corps, but not a new idea in warfare. Since ancient times, dogs
have served fighting men in various ways. The Romans, for instance,
used heavy mastiffs with armored collars to attack the legs of their
enemies, thus forcing them to lower their shields.


On Guam, First Lieutenant William R. Putney commanded the 1st Dog
Platoon and was the veterinarian for all war dogs on Guam. First
Lieutenant William T. Taylor commanded the 2d Platoon. Both landed on
the Asan-Adelup beach on Guam, while the 1st Platoon under Gunnery
Sergeant L. C. Christmore landed with the 1st Provisional Brigade at

Sixty dogs, 90 handlers, 10 NCO assistants, two war dog corpsmen, and
three kennelmen were distributed among the regimental and division
headquarters of the 3d Marine Division. Lieutenant Putney commanded the
36 handlers and 24 dogs out of division headquarters. Overall, some 350
war dogs served in the Guam operation.

Handlers were trained dog specialists and skilled scouts as well.
Man and dog searched out the enemy, awaited his coming, and caught
him by surprise around the Marine perimeter or while on patrol. In
addition, they found snipers, routed stragglers, searched out caves and
pillboxes, ran messages, and protected the Marines’ foxholes as they
would private homes. The dogs ate, slept, walked, and otherwise lived
with their masters.

The presence of dogs on the line could promise the Marines there a
night’s sleep, for they alerted their handlers when the enemy came near.

Early on in the Guam operations, some dogs were wounded or killed by
machine gun and rifle fire, and incoming mortars were as devastating to
the dogs as they were to the Marines. When the dogs were wounded, the
Marines made a point of getting them to the rear, to the veterinarian,
as quickly as possible. In the liberation of Guam, 20 dogs were wounded
and 25 killed.

From the end of the campaign to the end of the war in the Pacific, Guam
served as a staging area for war dogs, of which 465 served in combat
operations. Of the Marine Corps war dogs, 85 percent were Doberman
Pinschers, and the rest mainly German Shepherds.

At the end of the Pacific War, the Marine Corps had 510 war dogs. Of
this number, 491 were deprogrammed, a process that could take a year,
and returned to their owners, given to their handlers, or returned to
the Army, which had provided 41 to the Corps. Only four dogs could not
be returned to their masters because, even after extensive retraining,
they proved “incorrigible” and were considered to be unsafe for
civilian life.

_Securing the Force Beachhead Line_

With the breakthrough at Fonte and failure of Takashina’s mass
counterattack, the American positions could be consolidated. The 3d and
21st Marines squared away their holds on heights and the 9th Marines
(July 27-29) pushed its final way up to Mount Alutom and Mount Chachao.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88153

_A Marine uses a flamethrower on a Japanese-occupied pillbox on what
had been the Marine golf course on Guam, adjoining the Marine Barracks
on Orote Peninsula._]

The most serious resistance to occupying the Mount Alutom-Mount Chachao
massif and securing the Force Beachhead Line (FBHL) across the hills
was a surprisingly strong point at the base of Mount Chachao. Major
Donald B. Hubbard, commanding the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines (replacing
Lieutenant Colonel Asmuth, wounded on W-Day), called down artillery,
and, after the barrage, his Marines attacked with grenades and
bayonets. They destroyed everything that stood in their path. When that
fight was over, Major Hubbard’s battalion counted 135 Japanese dead. As
the assault force pushed up these commanding slopes, the Marines could
spot men of Company A of the 305th Infantry atop Mount Tenjo to the
west. Lieutenant Colonel Carey A. Randall’s 1st Battalion, 9th Marines,
then moved up and made contact with the Army troops. Originally, Mount
Tenjo had been in the 3d Division zone, but General Bruce had wanted
to get his men on the high ground so they could push ahead along the
heights and not get trapped in the ravines. He also wanted to prevent
the piecemeal commitment of his division and to preserve its integrity.

Conservative estimates put the Japanese dead as a result of the
counterattack at 3,200 men. The loss of Takashina’s infantry officers,
including General Shigematsu, who had commanded the _48th Independent
Mixed Brigade_, was held to be as high as 96 percent. Takashina himself
fell to the fire from a machine gun on an American tank as he was
urging survivors out of the Fonte position and on to the north to fight
again. With Takashina’s death, tactical command of all Japanese forces
remaining on Guam was assumed by General Obata. He had only a few
senior officers remaining to rally the surviving defenders and organize
cohesive units from the shattered remnants of the battalions that had
fought to hold the heights above the Asan-Adelup beaches.

[Illustration: _This Japanese airstrip on Orote Peninsula was one of
the prime objectives of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in its zone.
Pockmarks on the strip resulted from the aerial, ships’ gunfire, and
artillery bombardments directed at this target._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88134

All through the night of 28 July, Japanese troops trudged along the
paths that led from Fonte to Ordot, finding their way at times by the
light of American flares. At Ordot, two traffic control points guided
men toward Barrigada, where three composite infantry companies were
forming, or toward Finegayan, where a force of five composite companies
was to man blocking positions. As he fully expected the Americans
to conduct an aggressive pursuit on the 29th, General Obata ordered
Lieutenant Colonel Takeda to organize a delaying force that would hold
back the Marines until the withdrawal could be effected.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88152

_A tank-infantry team from the 4th Marines advances slowly through the
dense scrub growth that characterized the terrain in the regiment’s zone
on Orote Peninsula. The attack moved forward yard by yard until the
objective was secured._]

Contrary to the Japanese commander’s expectations, General Geiger had
decided to rest his battle-weary troops before launching a full-scale
attack to the north. The substance of his orders to the 3d and 77th
Divisions on 29 July was to eliminate the last vestiges of Japanese
resistance within the FBHL, organize a line of defense, and patrol
in strength to the front. With capture of the beachhead line and its
critical high ground and the annihilation of great numbers of Japanese,
the turning point of the Guam campaign had been reached.

Yet, few Japanese had surrendered and those captured were usually
dazed, wounded, or otherwise unable to resist. Almost all of the
enemy died fighting, even when their lives were lost without sense or
purpose. Still, a substantial number of troops from the _29th Division_
were still not accounted for.

General Geiger’s intelligence sections could only list about one
quarter of the estimated soldier-sailor strength that had been on
the island, and he needed to make certain that his rear was secure
from attack before heading north after the enemy. Captured Japanese
documents and prisoners of war, and sightings from aircraft, all
indicated to Geiger that the Japanese had withdrawn to the north to
better roads, denser and more concealing jungle, and commanding terrain
for strongpoints.

To ensure that his rear area was not threatened, General Geiger had
the 77th Division detail patrols to scour the southern half of Guam,
repeating and intensifying the searches the brigade had made. These
soldiers, as the Marines before them, found Guamanians everywhere,
some in camps established by the Japanese, others on their farms and
ranches. The natives, some surprised to see Americans so soon after the
landings, reported the presence of only small bands of Japanese and
often only single soldiers. It became increasingly evident that the
combat units that remained were in the north, not the south. The best
estimates of their strength ranged around a figure of 6,000 men.

[Illustration: _Marines of the 1st Provisional Brigade hurl hand
grenades at enemy positions on the other side of one of the rice
paddies that slowed their advance toward Orote._]

Obata had expected a hasty pursuit, and set up strong rear guards to
give time for his retreating forces to organize. Victory was no longer
even a hope, but the Japanese could still extract a painful cost.
General Geiger, who had a little time now, could give his troops a rest
and move into attack positions across the width of the island. Strong
and frequent patrols were sent out to find routes cross country and
glimpse clues of enemy strength and dispositions.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93468

_Marines bypass two smoldering Japanese light tanks, knocked out of
action by Marine Sherman medium tanks on the road to Sumay on Orote

Obata organized delaying defenses to include the southwest slopes of
Mount Barrigada, midway across the island from Tumon Bay, and the
little town of Barrigada itself, barely 20 houses. On all approaches to
his final defensive positions near Mount Santa Rosa, in the northwest
corner of the island, he organized roadblocks at trail and road
junctions, principally at Finegayan and Yigo, and concealed troops
in the jungle to interdict the roads which were the only practical
approach routes to the northern end of the island. The Japanese
commander felt sorely besieged, and as his notes later revealed: “the
enemy air force seeking our units during daylight hours in the forest,
bombed and strafed even a single soldier.” Perhaps even more damaging
than the air attacks were artillery and naval gunfire bombardments
brought down on men, guns, trenches, anything, by the Navy, Marines,
and Army spotter planes which were constantly overhead.

[Illustration: _Marine artillerymen, members of Battery C, 7th 155mm
(Long Toms) Gun Battalion, III Amphibious Corps Artillery, take
advantage of a lull in fire missions to swab the bore of their gun.
Soon after, the gun was back in battery firing missions._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91347

_The Attack North_

III Corps’s Geiger knew Obata’s probable route of retreat and drew up
a succession of objectives across the island which would incrementally
seize all potential enemy strongpoints. Jump-off for the drive north
was 0630 31 July with the 3d Marine Division on the left and the 77th
Infantry Division on the right, dividing the island down the middle.
The Marine zone would include the island capital of Agana, the Japanese
airfield at Tiyan, Finegayan, and the shores of Tumon Bay. The 77th
would have Mount Barrigada, Yigo, and Mount Santa Rosa in its zone. The
1st Marine Brigade relieved the 77th Division of the defense of the
southern portion of the FBHL and would continue to patrol the southern
half of Guam. As the Corps attack moved northward and the island
widened, the brigade would eventually take part in the drive to the
extreme north coast of the island.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93543

_Fleet Marine Force, Pacific commander LtGen Holland M. Smith, right,
stands with the leaders of the successful retaking of Orote Peninsula.
From left to right, LtCol Alan Shapley; BGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.;
and Col Merlin F. Schneider._]

The 3d Division reached Ordot in the center of its zone where Obata
had directed some of his survivors. The 3d Battalion, 21st Marines,
ran into them and one of their pillboxes, which the Marines thoroughly
gutted. The Americans also accounted for 15 infantrymen and two light
tanks which were the targets of M-1s and bazookas.

The honor of liberating Agana fell to the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines. The
riflemen entered the town’s ruins treading carefully, sizing up the
stark, dusty building walls for snipers. A few enemy riflemen emerged
from behind concrete outcroppings then dropped back into eternity. The
Japanese guards were stragglers, the wounded, or a few foolish enough
to stay. In one house, a Marine opened a closet to reveal a Japanese
officer, sword in hand. The Marine slammed the door, riddled it with an
automatic rifle, and didn’t bother to look again. The once-beautiful
old Plaza de Espana was in American hands 15 minutes after the town was
entered. By noon it was secured.

The 1st and 2d Battalions, 3d Marines, moved along to the critical
Agana-Pago Road. At 1350 the 21st Marines was right up there with them
after the few engagements with pillboxes, snipers, and tanks. By 1510,
Colonel Craig’s 9th Marines on the division’s right was partially
across the road and seized the remaining portion of that highway in
its sector on the next day. Hard-surfaced, with two lanes across the
midriff of the island, the Agana-Pago Road would prove critical in
winning the battle of Guam.

Leaving Agana and its historic rescue of the capital, the 3d Battalion,
3d Marines, under Major Royal R. Bastian, Jr., who had taken command
when Lieutenant Colonel Houser was wounded on 22 July, moved on with
relative ease. Before dusk the battalion had seized 1,400 yards of
other critical roads and trails which led to strategic and defended
strongpoints of Finegayan and Barrigada.

General Turnage got well within striking distance of the Tiyan airfield
and the little town of San Antonio, on the 31st, but the next day, 1
August, his advance was seriously slowed by mines. It took the cool
skill and slow and steady hands of the bomb disposal specialists of the
25th Naval Construction Battalion and the 19th Marines’ engineers to
reduce those obstacles.

[Illustration: _As the regimental field music sounds “To the Colors”
Col Schneider and his 22d Marines staff and command salute as the
American flag is raised over Guam for the first time since it was taken
down by the Japanese invaders in December 1941._]

Students of the battle and those who were there consider the taking of
the cross-island Agana-Pago Road as a major factor in guaranteeing the
success of the drive northward. Its capture solved a host of logistic
problems, for the 77th particularly. The Army division, for example,
had no roads heading north initially in its zone of advance and needed
such a road over which it could supply its troops as they came down out
of the hills and cut their way through the jungle. Frontline troops
in the Army zone were soon running low on supplies, especially water.
General Bruce promised his people a hot breakfast as soon as they and
the Marines could give him the road. Trucks were soon thick on the road
even while SeaBees and engineers were enlarging and repairing it.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93571

_Troops of the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, enter the wreckage of Agana
in the trace of retreating Japanese forces, who had planted land mines
before they left._]

The 77th had moved out on schedule just after daylight on 31 July,
with the 307th Infantry in the advance, followed by the 305th. As was
the situation facing the 3d Division, enemy resistance to the Army
advance was negligible. Within two hours, both Army regiments had
secured the cross-island road in their zones. The 307th rescued 2,000
Guamanians in the detention camp at Asinan. Unopposed, the 77th by noon
of 1 August was across the Pago River. Residents of the area said the
Japanese had left in a hurry for Barrigada, a destination where III
Corps intelligence already anticipated the enemy would hold up. The
jungle-covered mountain there, 674 feet high, dominated the area.

General Bruce assigned the capture of Barrigada to the 307th. It was
to maintain contact with the 3d Marine Division on the left and push
through the town, then continue about a mile to seize Mount Barrigada.
The 305th to the right of the 307th would attack in the same direction
east of the town and Barrigada mountain and protect to the coast. The
town was in a clearing fully swept with defensive machine gun fire. In
the same clearing was a much-desired well. Its capture meant the world
to the parched troops.

[Illustration: _Soldiers of the 77th Division reach the end of the road
bulldozed by the 302d Engineer Combat Battalion, and strike out cross
country in the 31 July advance._]

At 0630, 2 August General Bruce dispatched a dozen tanks of the 706th
Tank Battalion on a reconnaissance. As the “recon” armor turned into
Barrigada town, the enemy opened up with a torrent of fire. The
determined Japanese fiercely resisted the 307th when it reached the
town and were equally determined to stop the 305th on the right as that
regiment’s assault companies tried to outflank the town. Repeated tank
attacks and heavy artillery support netted only a few yards at a time,
but the soldiers kept advancing and by 4 August, the 77th Division held
the town, or what was left of it, its precious well, and the crest of
the mountain.

[Illustration: GUAM

28 JULY-4 AUGUST 1944

Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

Captured documents and interviews with prisoners again left little
doubt that the 77th Division’s major obstacle would be rugged, heavily
crevassed, and jungled Mount Santa Rosa. It is six and a half miles
northeast of Barrigada and a short distance from the ocean on the east

First to be addressed on the way were well-armed outposts like
Finegayan and Yigo. Each promised casualties, blood, and delay. General
Geiger employed the 77th to reduce Yigo and take Santa Rosa, and left
the capture of Finegayan and the rest of northern Guam principally
to the 3d Marine Division. He brought up General Shepherd’s brigade
to assist in the final drive. To protect the Force Beachhead Line,
care for the Guamanians, and hunt down enemy stragglers in the
south, General Geiger tasked the 1st Battalion, 22d Marines; the 7th
Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion; and the 9th Defense Battalion, all
under Lieutenant Colonel Archie E. O’Neil, who commanded the 9th.

Before moving on, the brigade had aggressively sought out Japanese
holdouts, brought the fearful Guamanians into friendly compounds, and
provided security for those who chose to remain in their own homes and
again work their own ranches. As late as 2 August, 4th Marines’ patrols
approaching Talofofo Bay on the southeast coast, came across some
2,000 natives, still apprehensive of the Japanese, who were directed
to a compound which promised safety and at least minimum comforts.
The Guamanian people in their own residential and farm areas could,
however, still readily call upon the civil affairs sections for food,
protection, medicine, and shelter. Such civil care was integral to the
American occupation and was controlled by Marine General Larsen, who
would head the garrison force as soon as the island was again under the
American flag.

During the night of 2-3 August, the 12th Marines delivered 777 rounds
of harassing and interdictory fire on the roads and trails the division
would encounter around Finegayan. At 0700 on 3 August, the 3d and
9th Marines moved in assault well past the Tinyan airfield. Then,
about 0910 the 9th encountered a block at the cross roads approaching
Finegayan village. The situation and terrain favored the Japanese with
excellent fields of fire. After the Japanese position was finally
overrun with tanks, Lieutenant Colonel Carey Randall, commanding 1st
Battalion, 9th Marines, said that these defenses were the toughest he
had faced on Guam.

That contest for Finegayan was the last major battle for the 3d
Division on Guam. The Japanese made it something to remember. A 3d
Division armored reconnaissance patrol headed for Ritidian Point on
the northernmost point of the island ran into Japanese defenses located
on the Finegayan trails bristling with antitank weapons and artillery
pointed in the direction of the patrol. The Americans were surprised
and bruised, did the Japanese some harm, but sensibly cancelled the


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92327

_The Catholic cemetery of Anigua became the home of approximately 7,000
Guamanians liberated from Japanese rule. Here a family lives in a
temporary shelter._]

The Japanese were plenty feisty at Finegayan, and in a telling thrust
dispatched two medium tanks which skirted the crossroads of the 9th
Marines at Junction 177 and went up the Finegayan-Mount Santa Rosa
Road. Impervious to Marine fire, the tanks shot up the area and got
away. Another tank force of undetermined size then rumbled down under
cover of a mortar barrage and it looked like the beginning of a
counterattack. Artillery stilled that Japanese effort. The enemy tanks
were driven off but survived to reappear again another day.

It was in one of those typical sudden enemy attacks around Finegayan
that Private First Class Frank P. Witek, with automatic rifle and
grenades, raced ahead of his own tanks to destroy an eight-man Japanese
position which was holding back elements of his 1st Battalion, 9th
Marines. He succeeded, but was killed. He was posthumously awarded the
Medal of Honor.

[Illustration: _CONSTRUCTION of NEW ROAD_


_Taken From OCMH in GUAM. 77th DIV_

Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

_Beginning of the End_

On 4 August, the new frontlines and scheme of maneuver were being set
up to keep pressure on General Obata and his holdouts, and make a
place for General Shepherd and his brigade. During the afternoon, the
brigade reached its northern assembly area and General Shepherd set
up his CP near San Antonio. In the final advance north, the brigade
would be on the left with its inland flank within a mile of the western
beaches. The 3d Division would be in the center deploying its units on
a three-regiment front which would swerve to the east to take in the
whole northern end of the island and as well support the 77th Division.

The Japanese now faced an overwhelming number of attack forces. And
there would be plenty of help from the sea and from the air. General
Bruce’s soldiers made the principal corps drive to destroy the
remaining Japanese and attacked Mount Santa Rosa. Priority of fires of
corps artillery, air support, and ships’ gunfire was now given to the
Army. These new arrangements were to take effect on 7 August.

[Illustration: _During the night of 2-3 August, U.S. artillery
delivered many rounds of harassing and interdiction fire on the enemy
in the north of Guam. Here, a blinding flash from a Long Tom lights up
the dark Guam night as it joins other guns in the shelling._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93340

[Illustration: _Captured by 1st Brigade Marines, rebuilt by Marine
engineers, and in full-scale operation, the Orote Peninsula airstrip is
home to Marine Aircraft Group 21 and its Marine Fighter Squadrons 217,
225, and 321, and Marine Night Fighter Squadron 534. Taxiing down the
strip are Vought F4U Corsair fighters, while parked off the runway are
Grumann F6F Hellcats._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92396

Making new strides to end the campaign, the 3d and 21st Marines
progressed handily but the 9th Marines kept running into dense jungle
that was such a tangled mess that tanks passed each other 15 feet
apart without knowing the other was there. The division accelerated
its advance in battalion columns. On 6 August, it had progressed 5,000
yards along the road to Ritidian Point, the end of the island and the
end of the battle for Guam. As that evening fell, the 3d Division was
in visual contact with the 77th Infantry Division, wherever the
all-encompassing jungle allowed.


_5-6 AUGUST_

_Taken From OCMH Map in GUAM. 77th DIV_

Only Approximate Form Lines Shown]

Meanwhile, heavy Seventh Air Force bombing as well as artillery and
naval shelling of enemy areas had been going on for days. Night
fighters were now assigned to support the advance, so even darkness
afforded the Japanese no protection. By that same 6 August, the defense
line that General Obata had set across Guam had been shattered and
overrun. Only isolated pockets now existed before Santa Rosa.

No American commander could say on 7 August when the fight for Guam
would be over. General Bruce in his attack first to Yigo and then Santa
Rosa would have a relatively fresh regiment, the 306th, which had come
up from the south where it had patrolled with the brigade. It was in
contact with the 9th Marines on the division boundary. Colonel Douglas
C. McNair, 77th Division chief of staff, was there, too, seeking a site
for a division CP and was killed by a sniper. Colonel McNair’s father,
Lieutenant General Leslie J. McNair, was killed in France 12 days
earlier during an American bombing raid.

The attack on Mount Santa Rosa began at noon, 7 August. Behind the
rumble of artillery and rattle of tanks, answered in kind by the enemy,
the 77th took Yigo, the door to Santa Rosa, and continued General
Bruce’s wheeling maneuver. Bulldozers blazed trails, and tanks and
infantry overran machine gun positions. The 77th was dug into positions
on the night of 7-8 August ready for the final attack on the mountain.
The expected big Japanese counterattack still did not come. The rapid
advance of the Americans accompanied by heavy artillery support likely
forestalled that forelorn hope.

[Illustration: _Sherman tanks of the Army 706th Tank Battalion pass
through Agana before taking the cross-island road to join the 77th
Division prior to the Barrigada action._]

Two regiments, the 305th and 307th, proceeded rapidly on 8 August. By
1240, the northern half of Mount Santa Rosa was in American hands,
and the troops moved to secure the rest of the mountain. By 1440 the
Army had reached the cliffs by the sea and could look right down to the
ocean. The 306th infantry had also completed an enveloping move to take
the northern slopes of Mount Santa Rosa.

Only 600 enemy bodies were found after the two-day fight for Yigo and
Santa Rosa. Yet, estimates of the enemy personnel at Santa Rosa had
been as high as 5,000. So this meant that enemy troops in significant
number now infested the jungled terrain everywhere on Guam. Worse, some
enemy tanks were also unaccounted for. Enemy survivors of the Mount
Santa Rosa battle kept drifting into the 9th Marines lines on the Army
flank, slowing the regiment’s advance. Sharp-eyed Marines noted more
than a smattering of enemy movement near a particular hill in the Army
zone. This was believed to be the command post area of General Obata.

The 3d Marines on the left of the division’s zone had progressed with
the same occasional enemy opposition. A 19-man roadblock held up the
Marines, but was taken out quickly. Searching a corridor between the
3d and the 9th Marines, the 21st Marines came upon the bodies of 30
Guamanians near Chaguian. They had been beheaded.

The brigade had it a little easier on the far west, for it found
negligible resistance as it advanced along fairly good trails. On
8 August, a patrol of the 22d Marines reached Ritidian Point, the
northernmost point of the island. Moving along a twisting cliff
trail to the beach, the Marines encountered less-than-aggressive
Japanese defenses which they quickly overcame. General Shepherd’s 1st
Provisional Marine Brigade had the distinction of being first to reach
both the southernmost point of the island in the early days of the
campaign and the northernmost section of Guam at Ritidian Point at this


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 94395

_MajGen Henry L. Larsen, left, designated island commander, meets with
BGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., commanding general of the 1st Provisional
Marine Brigade, and Col Robert Blake, Gen Larsen’s chief of staff. With
them are three Guamanians who enlisted in the Navy before the war and
are now visiting their homes._]

General Shepherd’s Marines began vigorously patrolling the area they
occupied, but found few Japanese. As a result, General Geiger reduced
the amount of naval gunfire placed on the area, while Saipan-based
Seventh Air Force P-47’s made their last bombing and strafing runs on
Ritidian Point. The 22d Marines was down below the cliffs at Ritidian,
scouring along the beaches where there are many caves. The 4th Marines
was on the north coast at Mengagan Point and tied by patrols to the
22d Marines. At 1800, 9 August, General Shepherd declared organized
resistance had ceased in his zone.

It was not so easy for the 3d Marines. On the night of 8-9 August near
Tarague, the regiment was hit by a last-resort Japanese mortar and
tank attack. Marine antitank grenades and bazooka rockets were wet
and ineffective and the Japanese blazed away with impunity and then
ducked back into the woods. Amazingly, when Major William A. Culpepper,
commanding the 2d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel de Zayas had been
killed on 26 July), counted heads, he found that he had suffered not a
single casualty.

Patrols of the 9th Marines advanced to Pati Point, the northeast
projection of the island. Intelligence sources then reported to Colonel
Craig that a mass of Japanese (maybe 2,000) troops were holed up at
Savana Grand, a wild tract of jungle, coconut trees, and high grasses
near the coast. Colonel Craig did not want to risk casualties so close
to the end of the campaign, so the artillery supporting the 9th Marines
fired a total of 2,280 rounds. The few Japanese survivors were either
killed or became prisoners. The final American positions formed along
the coast. By nightfall of 8 August, Colonel Craig’s Marines could wave
to the soldiers of the 306th patrolling to their south.

General Geiger was not ready to declare Guam secure until a pocket
of tanks still existing in the 3d Division zone was wiped out. That
had to be done by the 10th, for that was the day Admiral Nimitz was
scheduled to arrive on a visit. There were tanks indeed and the task
of finding and eliminating them was given to Major Culpepper’s 2d
Battalion, 3d Marines. Advancing at 0730, the battalion and a platoon
of American Sherman tanks soon found two enemy mediums firing, only
400 yards up the trail the Marines were following. The Shermans left
their counterparts black and burning. Seven more enemy mediums were
abandoned. A Japanese infantry platoon withdrew to the coastal cliffs
and was killed there.

On that day, 10 August, at 1131 as he learned that the last Japanese
tanks still in action had been destroyed, General Geiger declared all
organized resistance on Guam had ended. It was a great day for the
Guamanians. The island was theirs again.

[Illustration: _THE FINAL DRIVE--7-10 AUGUST_



It was also the next to the last day for General Obata. His Mount
Mataguac position was strongly defended, so much so that when the 306th
had tried to force it earlier it failed. On the morning of 11 August
1944, when the general knew his headquarters had been discovered and
that his enemy was coming for him, Obata signalled to his emperor:

  ... We are continuing a desperate battle. We have only our bare
  hands to fight with. The holding of Guam has become hopeless. Our
  souls will defend the island to the very end. I am overwhelmed with
  sorrow for the families of the many officers and men. I pray for
  the prosperity of the Empire.

The 306th made the last assault supported by tanks and demolition
squads. The enemy defenders killed seven Americans and wounded 17
before they went down to defeat, buried in the rubble of blown caves
and emplacements. General Obata took his own life or was killed
sometime during those last hours of the battle of Guam.

[Illustration: _Prisoners of war in the Guam stockade stand with bowed
heads as they are read the August 1945 surrender announcement._]

Major General Henry L. Larsen assumed command of the Guam Island
Command at 1200, 15 August. Under him, and largely with the forces of
the 3d Marine Division, the mopping up continued.

Part of Japan’s terrible cost on Guam was the 10,971 bodies already
counted. Yet there were some 10,000 Japanese still on the island. At
first some of these men fought and staged ambushes, and a few sniped
at the Americans, but soon the remaining Japanese sought only one
thing--food! Most of the others fled when encountered. The Japanese now
had no central command. They starved, died of dysentery, became too
weak to flee, and then blew themselves up with the one precious grenade
which they saved to take their own lives. Aggressive American patrols
were soon killing or capturing 80 Japanese soldiers and sailors a day.
A daring few stole into Marine food storage areas at night. One soldier
scribbled: “All around me are enemy only. It takes a brave man indeed
to go in search of food.”

[Illustration: _Enemy holdouts accompanied by their mascot are brought
in to surrender after intensive preparations by the Island Command
Psychological Warfare Unit._]

In addition to the battlefield casualties, more than 8,500 Japanese
were killed or captured on Guam between August 1944 and the end of the
war in August 1945.

In the 21 days of the Guam campaign ending 10 August, Marine units
of the III Amphibious Corps reported 1,190 men killed in action, 377
dead of wounds, and 5,308 wounded. The 77th Division’s casualties were
177 soldiers killed and 662 wounded. The Army and the Marines were a
closely knit team in the recapture of Guam. It is reputed that General
Holland Smith was the first to refer to General Bruce’s troops as
the “77th Marines.” Major Aplington, a battalion commander in the 3d
Marines, commented on the soldiers:

  In their fatigues so different from our herringbone utilities and
  their olive drab ponchos (ours were camouflaged) so different from
  us ... there was no doubt in our minds that the 77th were good
  people to have alongside in a fight and as a result we referred to
  them as “The 77th Marine Division.”

On the same busy day, 10 August, only hours after Major Culpepper’s
battalion had knocked out the last of the Japanese tanks, the
_Indianapolis_ (CA 35) steamed into Apra Harbor with Marine Corps
Commandant Lieutenant General Alexander A. Vandegrift on board,
accompanying Admiral Nimitz. On 15 August, Admiral Nimitz directed that
his forward CinCPac-CinCPOA headquarters be established on Guam, and
from here, he directed the rest of the Pacific War. Soon after, from
airfields on Guam, as well as those on Tinian, B-29s were blasting
the Japanese home islands. Hard fighting was yet to be experienced by
Marine divisions on Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. But whether they
knew it or not, the end of the war was less than a year away.

[Illustration: _The architects of victory in the Pacific met together
on Guam on 10 August 1944, when_ Indianapolis _(CA 35) brought
Commandant of the Marine Corps LtGen Alexander A. Vandegrift together
with Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Adm Chester W. Nimitz and Fifth
Fleet Commander Adm Raymond L. Spruance to the island. From left are
MajGen Roy S. Geiger, Commanding General, III Amphibious Corps; Adm
Spruance; LtGen Holland M. Smith, Commanding General, Fleet Marine
Force, Pacific; Adm Nimitz; and Gen Vandegrift. While together they
discussed the future course of the Pacific War._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92087

[Sidebar (page 39): PFC Witek’s Medal of Honor Hailed ‘Inspiring Acts’


Private First Class Frank Peter Witek’s Medal of Honor citation reads
as follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk
of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the
1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, during the Battle of
Finegayan at Guam, Marianas Islands, on 3 August 1944. When his rifle
platoon was halted by heavy surprise fire from well camouflaged enemy
positions, Private First Class Witek daringly remained standing to fire
a full magazine from his [Browning] automatic [rifle] at point-blank
range into a depression housing Japanese troops, killing eight of the
enemy and enabling the greater part of his platoon to take cover.
During his platoon’s withdrawal for consolidation of lines, he remained
to safeguard a severely wounded comrade, courageously returning the
enemy’s fire until the arrival of stretcher bearers, and then covering
the evacuation by sustained fire as he moved backward toward his own
lines. With his platoon again pinned down by a hostile machine gun,
Private First Class Witek, on his initiative, moved forward boldly
to the reinforcing tanks, and infantry, alternately throwing hand
grenades and firing as he advanced to within 5 to 10 yards of the
enemy position, and destroying the hostile machine-gun emplacement and
an additional eight Japanese before he himself was struck down by an
enemy rifleman. His valiant and inspiring action effectively reduced
the enemy’s firepower, thereby enabling his platoon to attain its
objective, and reflects the highest credit upon Private First Class
Witek and the United States naval service. He gallantly gave his life
for his country.”


In addition to the official Marine Corps histories of the Guam
campaign, Major O. Robert Lodge’s _The Recapture of Guam_ (Washington,
1954), and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Bernard C. Nalty, and Edwin H.
Turnbladh’s _Central Pacific Drive_, vol III, _History of U.S. Marine
Corps Operations in World War II_ (Washington 1966), the author
consulted the Army’s official history, Philip A. Crowl’s _Campaign in
the Marianas_ (Washington, 1960). Of value also were the 3d Division’s
history by Robert A. Aurthur and Kenneth Cohlmia, _The Third Marine
Division_ (Washington, 1948), the classic _U.S. Marines and Amphibious
War_ by Jeter A. Iseley and Philip A. Crowl (Princeton, 1951), RAdm
Samuel Eliot Morison’s _The Two Ocean War_ (Boston, 1976), _The Fall
of Japan_ by William A. Craig (New York, 1967), and LtGen Victor H.
Krulak’s _First to Fight_ (Annapolis, 1984).

Historians at all the Services’ Washington historical offices were
universally helpful, but I would particularly like to thank Dr.
Terrence J. Gough of the Army’s Center of Military History and Dr.
Robert Browning, the Coast Guard historian for their assistance.
Conversations and correspondence, and oral history interviews, with
the following were helpful: Jack Kerrins; MajGen Charles L. Davis, AUS
(Ret); BGen Vincente (Ben) Blaz, USMC (Ret); Col Martin J. “Stormy”
Sexton, USMC (Ret); Col Fraser E. West, USMC (Ret); LtCol Wilcie A.
O’Bannon, USMC (Ret); Col Henry Aplington II, USMC (Ret); Dr. William
H. Putney; Dale M. Quillan; William L. Dunlap; Paul Ulrich; and
Alfred G. Don. Even if their words were not used, their thoughts and
observations were carefully considered. The author’s own experiences on
Guam as a Marine combat correspondent pervaded his whole account.

_About the Author_


Cyril J. O’Brien served in a line company with the 3d Marines, 3d
Marine Division, on Bougainville, and then as a Combat Correspondent in
the battles for Guam and Iwo Jima. Following World War II, he covered
Capitol Hill as a Washington correspondent, then joined the staff
of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he
was a science writer and supervisor of media relations. He attended
St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, and the American University,
Washington, D.C. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.


An editing error appears in the 1994 History and Museums Division
pamphlet, _A Different War: Marines in Europe and North Africa_, by
Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Edwards, USMC (Ret), from the “World War
II Commemorative Series.” On page 8, the photo caption which begins
“Then-Col Julian C. Smith, left ...”, should read “Then-Col Julian C.
Smith, below....”


THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in
the World War II era, is published for the education and training of
Marines by the History and Museums Division. Headquarters, U.S. Marine
Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense
observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part
by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late
husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient
of a Purple Heart.


    =Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)=

    =Benis M. Frank=

    =George C. MacGillivray=

    =Robert E. Struder=, Senior Editor;
    =W. Stephen Hill=, Visual Information Specialist;
    =Catherine A. Kerns=, Composition Services Technician

    Marine Corps Historical Center
    Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
    Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


    PCN 190 003126 00


Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

To make this eBook easier to read, particularly on handheld devices,
some images have been made relatively larger than in the original
pamphlet, and centered, rather than offset to one side or the other;
and some were placed a little earlier or later than in the original.
Sidebars in the original have been repositioned between chapters and
identified as “[Sidebar (page nn):”, where the page reference is to the
original location in the source book. In the Plain Text version, the
matching closing right bracket follows the last line of the Sidebar’s
text and is on a separate line to make it more noticeable. In the HTML
versions, that bracket follows the colon, and each Sidebar is displayed
within a box.

Page 26: “I didn’t breath” was printed that way, as a quotation.

Page 28: “screaming attacks came at 1230, then again at 0130” was
printed that way.

Page 41: “vigorously patrolling the area they occupied” was misprinted
as “vigorously patrolling the area it they occupied”. Changed here.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam" ***

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