Monday, June 8, 2020

July - August, 1944: The Battle of Guam

Hi toy soldier enthusiasts,

Toy Soldiers Forever! the blog, is taking a break from the American Civil War and heading to the Philippine Sea of WWII, and the Battle of Guam.

(A test photo)

I expect that this project will last two  or three years, and I'm really excited with the prospect of heading in a new direction,

My interest in the Battle of Guam stems from my own experiences on the island.  When I was in the US Navy I was stationed on Guam from 1971 to 1972...I arrived there when I was eighteen, and the experience shaped me during my formative years.

When I was on the island, the War was still vivid in the memories of the adult Guamanians and Chamorros.  Shot-up and abandoned war materiel was all over the island, as was unexploded ordnance. All of the beaches were covered by pillboxes and gun embrasures, and inland one found abandoned American and Japanese tanks and American LVTs.  While I was on Guam, the last Japanese straggler Sgt Sochi Yokoi was captured (gently).

The war still echoed on the island, and I really got caught up in it, spending nearly all of my off-time hiking in the jungle, walking the beaches, or snorkeling the shallow waters of the reef.

The Guamanians are fiercely proud of the fact that they are Americans, and today the island is a modern tourist destination with world-class amenities but still offers lots of unspoiled, barely touched, places of natural tropical beauty.  The Guam that I experience was very different than the Guam of today.  The island was just beginning to explore the Japanese tourist industry, building a modern and attractive first-class hotel, the Guam Dai-Ichi.  While I was on the island, its first MacDonalds opened...which was like a little slice of home for the GIs stationed on the island

In short...I loved it.

Over the summer and autumn the toy soldier will be transformed, first into an invasion beach, then it will become the interior of the island.  I also plan on recreating a tiny portion of the capital - urban setting and an important reminder that this remote part of America was most definitely not  a collection of primitive people and grass huts.  

Right now I am gathering, assembling, and painting materials.  Later the fabrication, in foam, of the terrain will begin.  My trusty painted backdrop of the Cumberland Valley will disappear and a Pacific Ocean seascape will first take its place, followed by an island landscape.

The plan is to tell discrete battle stories, much like my multi-installment Battle of Greenbrier.  Most of the installments will somehow be connected to photographs, artifacts, or stories that I brought back with me from my time on the island.

I've really been enjoying the preliminaries and I will be posting progress reports as the project progresses.  I hope that you will come along on the journey.

By the way, a week ago I retired from the National Park Service, so I have so much more time that I can dedicate to my hobbies.  I can't wait.

As we say on the island - 

Hafa Adat!

and soldier on!



The Good Soldier Svjek said...

Enjoy your retirement ' I took Voluntary Redundancy 7 years ago (and retired officially this Spring0 and have not regrated a moment of it !

Brian Carrick said...

An interesting project Mannie, it will be interesting to watch it unfold, enjoy your retirement!

tradgardmastare said...

I look forward to seeing your project develop, enjoy!

Mark, Man of TIN said...

Happy Retirement Mannie! I'm sure the National Parks service won't be the same without you.

My only connection to Guam is rather falling for the shy little Guam Rail on my only trip to San Diego Zoo, an island endemic bird and now endangered species as a result of brown snakes being brought in from outside with landing craft and all the war material. They are now part of a breeding and return programme.