Adjacent to the Plaza de Espana, was the headquarters for the American naval governors. Official US Park Service photograph.
Guam was ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish American War in 1898 and formally purchased from Spain for $20 million in 1899. At the time of the turnover, the local population of Guam had grown to about 10,000 inhabitants. U.S. President William McKinley issued an executive order placing Guam within the administration of the Department of Navy. Capt R. P. Leary was appointed the island’s first U.S. Governor. Under Navy administration, Guam experienced many improvements in the areas of agriculture, public health, sanitation, education, land management, taxes, and public works.
|USS Guam PG-43
Commissioned in May 1927 – One of 3 US Navy warships to bear the name USS Guam.Official US Navy Photograph.
Orders issued by Capt Leary on August 16,1899: regulated the importation and sale of intoxicating liquors; prohibited the transfer of land without the consent of the government; regulated the celebration of church and other holidays; prohibited concubine and required that marriage rites be performed between persons who were cohabitating;
prohibited exportation of certain articles in common use among the people;
|Guam Ship’s Bell
Served on all 3 US Navy warships bearing the name USS Guam.
required persons without a trade or regular employment to plant specified commodities and keep certain live stock; regulated the keeping of dogs and other animals running at large; abrogated the Spanish system of taxation and provided a new one; established a public system of nonsectarian education; and required each adult to learn to write his or her own name within a specified time. When the United States Navy, in 1927, commissioned the gunboat USS Guam to perform river patrol duty in China it caused quite a bit of excitement on the island. The people of Guam, including schoolchildren who donated a penny each, collected $703.92 to have a ship’s bell and commemorative plaque manufactured in Shanghai, China. The bell was presented to the Navy and has served distinctively on each of the three USS Guam Naval vessels. The U.S. Navy continued to use Guam as a refueling and communication station until 1941, when it fell to invading Japanese forces shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japanese Occupation (1941 – 1944)
On December 10, 1941, Guam surrendered to the Japanese South Seas detachment forces after a valiant defensive struggle by the island’s Insular Force Guard and a limited number of U.S. marines. Guam became the only populated U.S. soil to be occupied by another country in World War II. Guam was renamed “Omiya Jima” and for 31 months, the people of Guam were forcibly subjected to intolerable hardships administered by the Japanese military.
|Latte Stone Park Caves
Used by Japanese forces to store ammunition.
Although some measure of religious practice and business activities were permitted, atrocities, grenade slaughters and rapes were common. Concentration camps were established by the 29th Division of Japan’s Kwantung Army and approximately 600 Chamorro’s were executed. Some Chamorro’s were beheaded when the Japanese learned of the 3-year humanitarian effort by Chamorro’s to successfully feed and hide U.S. Navy radioman George Tweed who escaped in the initial invasion. Tweed’s cave is a popular “boonie stomping” destination on Guam today. Many landmarks of the Japanese occupation, including gun emplacements and tunnels can still be seen around the island of Guam today.
|Asan Beach Landing
War in the Pacific
The campaign for the liberation of Guam was marked by record tonnage of naval bombardment in which thousands of Japanese and Chamorro’s lost their lives and the city of Hagatna was nearly destroyed. American forces landed on July 21, 1944 at Asan and Agat beaches. In honor the bravery and sacrifices of all those who participated in the Pacific Theater of World War II, including soldiers, sailors and marines of the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the Soviet Union the landing area has been designated as the “War in the Pacific National Historic Park“. During the following bitter three-week campaign, 7,000 U.S. and 11,000 Japanese lives were lost before Guam was reclaimed and once again under American administration. Due to its strategic position, Guam was used as a command post for U.S. Western Pacific operations until the War concluded in 1945. On May 30, 1946, the U.S. Naval Government was re-established.
|Asan War in the Pacific
National Park Overlook
Although concluded over 50 years ago, Word War II still exerts a major influence on Guam. Relics and evidence of the War are still evident all across the island and divers can survey wrecks of Japanese, American, German and other ships and airplanes under Guam‘s warm clear waters. On January 24, 1972, the last Japanese World War II holdout, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi, was discovered in the cave in which he been hiding since his unit was scattered by the advancing Americans in July 1944. Sergeant Yokoi’s cave at Talafofo falls has been preserved as a popular attraction for visitors. Today, July 21st, Guam Liberation Day, is a major Guam holiday. All Government offices and most businesses are closed as the island celebrates with day long fiestas and a parade down Marine Corps Drive in Hatagna.