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Japanese invasion of Guam and subsequent imprisonment

Liberation from Japanese prison camp

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Chuck was born in Long Island, New York in 1917. He believes that things were going better during the Great Depression then they are now. He recalls going to a CCC [Annotator’s Note: Civilian Conservation Corps] camp. He learned how to drive a semi truck. That served him well after the war. He made 24 cents an hour after the war.Chuck joined the Marine Corps on 6 November 1940. He was attracted to the Marine Corps because of the type of life that it afforded people. He wanted to be in the action. Noone stuck their nose in the Marine Corps business back then. He was sent to San Diego to the recruitment depot for training then went straight from boot camp to Guam. He knew nothing about Guam. When he was en route to Guam he found out that it was a decent sized island and had a population of 22000. He also found out there were beautiful girls running around everywhere. They had a terrible typhoon before Chuck got there and they had to live in tents because of the damage. He was never hungry or short on supplies.The Guamanian's and a contingent of about 28 marines formed the center of the police force on the island. They operated under the California vehicle and penal code. 1 day Chuck was called into the chief of polices office. He was told he was going to be the traffic officer for the island. He was given a Ford Coupe with a powerful engine. It was a good job. He left California in January of 1941 to get to Guam and did not arrive in Guam until February of 1941. He did not feel that Guam was a big target to the Japanese. He was in the dark about possible Japanese aggression. He heard about Pearl Harbor the day it happened and felt terrible about it. Chuck had 1903 bolt action Springfields [Annotator’s Note: M1903 Springfield rifles].

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Chuck was incredibly upset about Pearl Harbor. He had no idea even after Pearl Harbor that 5000 Japanese Marines were going to take the island. They were put on alert and sent to their posts after the Japanese started bombing the island. He believes the Japanese bombed Guam indiscriminately.Chuck helped to enforce a curfew on the island after the Japanese began bombing it in order to help save lives. He recalls that the US civilians were told to leave the island in October. He did not have much contact with the Guamanian police. They had 1 Marine who was the overarching commander of the police. There was a German man on the island who had a huge swastika flag that he presented to the Japanese when they landed. There were some Japanese people who lived on Guam and they were treated fairly. There was 1 Japanese person who was caught on the suspicion of spying. When the Japanese landed he had a pistol. It would have been suicide in Chucks opinion to form a line to combat the Japanese.The interpreter for the Japanese had called for the governor. The governor responded and the Japanese said surrender the island or face extermination. Chuck thanks the governor because if he had not said anything they would have died. Chuck was rounded up and put into a Catholic church. He did not fire a shot at the Japanese. He never thought that things could go bad. He recalls destroying a lot of equipment such as trucks so that the Japanese could not use them. 

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Chuck was able to see his Ford Coupe being driven around the island by the Japanese from a window in the church they were all being kept in [Annotator’s Note: as a prisoner of war of the Japanese on Guam]. Before the Japanese landed Chuck got down to the armory and the keys were not available. He took his .45 pistol and blew the lock off of the armory. They proceeded to pour whatever flammable liquid they had available at the time over the armory and lit it on fire. The Argentina Maru [Annotator’s Note: also called the Kaiyo, a Japanese Imperial Navy escort carrier] was the name of the Japanese ship that was going to take them to Japan. When they were in the church noone really bothered them but they could not leave. In the morning the Japanese would give each person a tablespoon of eggs for breakfast. The next meal at around 6 o clock at night was also a tablespoon of something. They survived but lost a lot of weight. Noone was really abused on Guam. Every now and then Chuc would run into a sadistic Japanese soldier who would punch or hit the men but not often. If you kept your nose clean you never had any problems.Chuck had 5 guys that he was close to during his captivity. The Japanese made Chuck a stevedore because he spoke Japanese. He was a winch man on the ship. 1 of his buddies was a coxswain in the Navy. They left Guam and it took them a few days to get back to Japan because they had to steer the ship in an evasive manner because of American submarines. Chuck felt like he was fed well. He liked the food. He ate anything that he could get a hold of. At the first prisoner of war camp he had to clear a rocky hill so the Japanese could plant sweet potatoes. They were not at the first camp long before about 150 people were sent to Osaka. He was at the first camp from February to June of 1942.

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Chuck states that the guys in the Japanese army at Osaka were pretty good guys. 1 of the Japanese soldiers was even a member of the invasion force on Guam. Chuck talked with him about the invasion. He learned how to speak Japanese during his first 4 months in captivity. He did not find the Japanese language hard to learn and pick up. He used to speak fluent German and speaks Spanish as well.In Osaka Chuck worked for different companies unloading their ships. He unloaded ships for Mitsubishi. He moved all sorts of different materials. It helped him survive to be a stevedore because he was able to steal things. If people got caught stealing they would be beaten. Chuck found out that a ship coming in had a big supply of rice on it. He went in during a certain period and would load the rice into their pants. This was during their last stay at their last camp. Hiro Hata was the name of the camp. They decided that they had enough rice. 2 other prisoners saw Chuck going in and out and the 2 guys ended up in trouble. The Japanese realized when they took inventory that more people were involved because of the amount of rice missing. At Hiro Hata the prisoner population swelled with the arrival of 400 Army guys who were captured in the Philippines. Chuck sounded off to his guys and said that he was going to stand up for the 400 men. They all stood up and everyone was dismissed to the barracks. Chuck took a beating but everyone got to get out of the cold. This is how the Japanese made Chuck and the culprits who were guilty of stealing the rice feel bad about what they did so they all stood up and took the blame.

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Chuck recalls being stripped naked with his hands locked behind his head. The Japanese would hit them with a giant baseball type bat piece of wood. He took it like a man. He remembers being cold to the point where ice would form on their bodies. After they got beat Chuck decided it was a good idea to lay low for awhile. When the bomb was dropped [Annotator’s Note: the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on 6 August 1945] he woke up and all of the guards were gone. He figures that they were scared of retribution. One of the Japanese guards who stayed behind was killed because he was a real bastard.Chuck and the other prisoners took control of the camp. A Marine sergeant was appointed commander of the camp. A liberation team came by and they needed guidance and someone who could speak to the Japanese. Chuck translated Japanese for those guys. They were Army. B-29s [Annotator’s Note: American B-29 bombers] were dropping 55 gallon drums full of supplies. They welcomed the food with open arms. There were a lot of cigarettes in those packages. Chuck was able to find out what was going on in the world in regards to the progress of the war because of his ability to speak Japanese.He recalls that when he was in Osaka a Japanese soldier took him to the dentist and then afterwards they got ice cream.

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Chuck feels that a lot of veterans have embellished their prisoner of war experience. He felt as if it was not that bad. When he woke up and realized the Japanese had left their guard stations it was the greatest day in the world to him [Annotator’s Note: guards at the prisoner of war camp he was held in].When Chuck was in Vietnam he told his guys that he would die fighting before he was taken prisoner. He gave his guys in Vietnam orders to shoot prisoners. He found out about the atomic bom and was told that it was a big explosion that wiped out an entire city. Chuck says that he likes a good war and that World War 2 did not change him. He thinks that America did 1 of the greatest jobs in history dealing with 2 different enemies. He is not sure if World War 2 changed the rest of the world.

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Chuck was incredibly upset about Pearl Harbor. He had no idea even after Pearl Harbor that 5000 Japanese Marines were going to take the island. They were put on alert and sent to their posts after the Japanese started bombing the island. He believes the Japanese bombed Guam indiscriminately.Chuck helped to enforce a curfew on the island after the Japanese began bombing it in order to help save lives. He recalls that the US civilians were told to leave the island in October. He did not have much contact with the Guamanian police. They had 1 Marine who was the overarching commander of the police. There was a German man on the island who had a huge swastika flag that he presented to the Japanese when they landed. There were some Japanese people who lived on Guam and they were treated fairly. There was 1 Japanese person who was caught on the suspicion of spying. When the Japanese landed he had a pistol. It would have been suicide in Chucks opinion to form a line to combat the Japanese.The interpreter for the Japanese had called for the governor. The governor responded and the Japanese said surrender the island or face extermination. Chuck thanks the governor because if he had not said anything they would have died. Chuck was rounded up and put into a Catholic church. He did not fire a shot at the Japanese. He never thought that things could go bad. He recalls destroying a lot of equipment such as trucks so that the Japanese could not use them. 

Annotation

Chuck recalls being stripped naked with his hands locked behind his head. The Japanese would hit them with a giant baseball type bat piece of wood. He took it like a man. He remembers being cold to the point where ice would form on their bodies. After they got beat Chuck decided it was a good idea to lay low for awhile. When the bomb was dropped [Annotator’s Note: the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on 6 August 1945] he woke up and all of the guards were gone. He figures that they were scared of retribution. One of the Japanese guards who stayed behind was killed because he was a real bastard.Chuck and the other prisoners took control of the camp. A Marine sergeant was appointed commander of the camp. A liberation team came by and they needed guidance and someone who could speak to the Japanese. Chuck translated Japanese for those guys. They were Army. B-29s [Annotator’s Note: American B-29 bombers] were dropping 55 gallon drums full of supplies. They welcomed the food with open arms. There were a lot of cigarettes in those packages. Chuck was able to find out what was going on in the world in regards to the progress of the war because of his ability to speak Japanese.He recalls that when he was in Osaka a Japanese soldier took him to the dentist and then afterwards they got ice cream.

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