On March 9th, 2022, YCAPS held its first YCAPS Afloat event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizing a tour of historically-significant sites in Guam for visiting sailors. The tour, led by YCAPS member Tony Boccia and co-organized by Jenna Lindeke Heavenrich (member of YCAPS' growing Guam chapter) and William Yale, visited the Guam Museum, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, including Asan Bay Overlook and Asan Beach, (one of the US’ amphibious landing sites during the Battle of Guam) and Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, a remnant of Guam’s Spanish colonial period. Following the tour, the group enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant in the Chamorro Village, a market famous for its local cuisine and handicrafts.
The tour covered Guam from multiple angles: the history and culture of Guam’s indigenous peoples, the Chamorro, to Guam’s colonization by Spain and the US, and Guam’s experience during WWII, including its occupation by Japan from 1941 to 1944 and the subsequent US invasion to retake the island. Tony Boccia provided an excellent overview of the challenges US forces faced during the Battle of Guam, with an emphasis on geographical difficulties. In order to land amphibious craft on Guam, US Navy UDT (underwater demolition teams—the precursor to today’s Navy SEALS) had to covertly dynamite holes in the coral reefs that ring the island and block access to the landing beaches. In addition, once US forces had landed, they discovered that the vast majority of pre-landing shore bombardment and bomber sorties over Guam had been ineffective, forcing the US to fight an uphill battle (literally) in the face of withering Japanese artillery and sharpshooter fire. In the end, the US won but at great cost, presaging even deadlier campaigns on islands like Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
-William Yale for YCAPS