By: Tina R. Lizama
all my 25 years, I thought I knew everything I ever wanted to know about
of Guam. The story I knew... we were occupied by the Japanese for
then the Americans with the help of the Chamorro people liberated the island.
year, on July 21st, we celebrate Liberation Day with a huge parade
out in the
with floats, barbecues, and lots of people. This was the Liberation
something extraordinarily wonderful happened to me, a simple island girl.
I was working one day, I noticed the Guam Seal! You may think, "and what
Well, I'm thousands of miles away from home and the last thing that I ever
I'd see was a Guam Seal somewhere else other than around my own neck.
an easy eye catcher, especially with the distinct island logo - coconut
and land. Plus the bright blue and red colors really made it stand
extraordinary thing was that it wasn't just an ordinary Guam Seal pin.
the Guam Seal were the words, "Guam Liberator." I stood there just
staring at the
whose hat the Guam Seal was pinned on. I couldn't believe that a
part of my
island history was standing right in front of me. I mean, working
guest services at
hotel, I meet a lot of people from all walks of life.
this particular day, I didn't just meet any persona met one of my island's
I finally spoke up and told him that I was from Guam. When he heard
words, his face lit up. He probably felt the same excitement that
my very being. He introduced himself as Louis Hum and gave me one of
cards. We stood there in awe, just kind of enjoying the fact that
I was a
and he a Guam Liberator. It was an interesting night!
really didn't discuss much... I think it was because we were both still
from the initial shock of it all. However, the next day was a different
a bunch of guys from the 3rd Marine Division looking for me. Okay,
you're all thinking! They wanted to meet the "Guam girl!" As
soon as I walked
my co-worker told me that they were going to stop by a little later to
talk with me.
she wasn't joking! Later that night, Louis Hum came by along with
a few of his
Louis R. Machala, Steve Vajda, and Bentley.
talk about a bunch of ex-Marines telling their war stories. Each
of them told
their own account of landing on the beach (Asan Point), racing towards
under extreme gun fire and bombing. One of them told me about his
getting wiped out by their own. He said when the landed on the beach,
24 in their platoon. They all made it to the cliff line, fighting
to stay alive. But a
in communications ended in disaster.
contact broke down, and instead of the American bomber killing the enemy,
was dropped on them. Out of the 24 to make it to the cliff line,
only 8 survived,
being one of them. I knew it pained him to tell that story, his voice cracked
and his eyes filled with tears. And yet, he told me his story!
And I felt like the
person to hear of my own island's history from the people who liberated
guy had a different tale to tell. This guy must've been a gung-ho
account of the war was a little different from the rest. He told
me of all the bomb
and ditches that he was responsible for. He told me where his bullets
his exact tracks were from the beach. We even got into a debate about
directions. He knew Guam like the back of his hand. Pretty
sad of me to lose
debate, being from Guam. I actually stood there and said, "Okay,
you're right, I
what road you are talking about." And he got most of the pronunciation
too! You would've thought that he was the Chamorro and I wasn't.
we talked the night away. I also got some photos of a couple of them
that I met Guam Liberators. I know, I'm kind of weird. It's
just that I wanted
remember the night. I wanted to learn more about Guam's war history.
myself that when I returned back home, the first thing I was going to do
a book and see if I could find their names. And then when I found
to everyone that I met them in the flesh. I even thought about going
that they mentioned, to look for those bomb holes and stuff. I was
be in the company of my island's war heroes. I sat there very attentive,
word they uttered.
I listened to them tell their stories, I could see the bitter sweetness
in their eyes. Bitter because of the horrific aspects of war-time,
they saved lives. I could hear it in their voices how the distant
past still remained fresh in their minds. And in the end, these heroes
me one thing I'll always remember for the rest of my life!!!
one of them gave me a hug and said, "Thank You!" I couldn't understand
if anyone should've been thankful, it should've been me! But from
understood what they meant. Simply, being from Guam, it reminds them
hard for. To the rest of the world, I'm just a simple island girl.
To the Guam
I'm a reminder of who they risked their very own lives for. We all