Thursday, December 26, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War

4 - Guadalcanal

            We landed at Nauru International Airport without incident. I had noticed another large group of Japanese veterans on board. They followed us off the airplane and assembled in a small group across from us in the small terminal waiting room. Apparently, they didn’t trust presidential whims any more than we did. We all had sufficient time to catch a taxi and make a quick tour of the eight square-mile island during our layover. I noticed their glancing at me and guessed that they were speculating. I was the same age as most of them; I was not with any group, I wasn’t carrying a brief case or wearing suit, tie, and polished shoes. Could I be a veteran, like them, from the other side?

            One of them left the group and strolled along one wall, studying posters and pictures. Finally,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War

3 - An American Colony

            The woman at the Air Nauru counter told us that Japanese veterans usually visited the battlefields in their old uniforms, and she understood that this group was going on to Guadalcanal. We followed them aboard; there were about 20 of them, and they proceeded to the rear, where they sat in a group. They still wore the same choke collars I remembered, and many stretched their fits in uniforms they first wore when they were younger and leaner. I wondered why there were so many. If they came in groups on these flights regularly, that would add up to a lot of veterans. Yet, on all our invasions, they had fought and died to the end. Out of 20 or 30 thousand defending each of the larger islands of Saipan and Guam, there were the same handful of survivors that there had been in the smaller garrisons on Tarawa and the Marshall Islands.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War

2 - The Ravine

            Back at the hotel, I told my wife that there was only one place I still wanted to find, then we could leave this Japanese colony. The next morning, we left our high-rise hotel on Tumon Bay and drove north. There were no resorts in this direction, and most of the Guamanians we saw, Chamorros or mainlanders, worked for the Air Force Base. The northern half of the island, essentially everything north of Tumon Bay, is a plateau that terminates in a cliff, some 200 feet above a beach strip, and this feature runs along the entire northern ocean shore. I was looking for a road that would somehow get us down to that beach strip.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Doing the Right Thing

My novel has been re-written and is being read by selected readers for comment. This blog will return to its original purpose: a display case for my writing. I will finish posting my war stories and other experiences. My Visit to a Long-ago War will consist of four postings. It is long and could be considered as a travelogue for anyone who plans a trip to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Other generations are in charge now, and mine – the one who remembers that Sunday, some 72 years past – is either out to pasture or under it. Today is very different from my yesterday, but human nature remains a constant. However, I offer the following observations for what they are worth and welcome your comments..
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else                                                                                                        Winston Churchill

I don't know if we can still count on Americans doing the right thing, eventually, or if we can count on the world giving us the time for a long debate with ourselves, such as we had in the Thirties, before we do

Visit to a Long-ago War

1 - Guam - A Truckload of Shoes

            I closed my business in 1983. Construction contracting is a very cyclical business, and the settlement of a long strike had introduced an operating change which would affect mine heavily. I decided to quit while ahead and do some of the things I had planned to do at a later retirement. Among them was a visit to some islands in the South Pacific, which I had first seen as a young marine, only a year out of high school, and to the island of Guam, in the Central Pacific, which I had seen as part of an invasion. I wanted to see how D-Day shores looked, no longer swept by explosions from naval shells and dive bombers, no longer crowded by boats disgorging marines for charges through the surf and across the beach to whatever cover they could find. I wanted to see again the exotic beauties of lands no longer shielding an unseen enemy in their green jungles. Finally, I wanted to see them as a tourist, no longer enduring long periods of monotony between visions of beauty or terror. My wife agreed to accompany me with reluctance, since she knew these places only from the savage tales I had told her, but with acceptance, since we would face any hardships remaining from the war together.