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On Walkabout On: Asan Beach, Guam

Basic Information

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Narrative

After checking out the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park on the US island of Guam, I then proceeded to head over to Asan Beach where US Marines landed on back in July 1944.  The beach is located just a short drive north of the visitor center on the appropriately named Marine Corps Drive:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

I stopped at the first parking area when I pulled into the beach to check out this torpedo the National Park Service has on display:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

According to the plaque below the torpedo it was placed here to memorialize the courage and sacrifice of submariners during World War II:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Something else I found of interest when I pulled into the beach was the huge open and grassy space in front of the beach:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

I would find out that this grassy space came about because Asan Beach was used to house a leper colony back in 1892.  Eight years later the colony was destroyed by a typhoon.  Then in 1901 after the US took control of Guam from the Spanish after winning the 1898 Spanish-American War this beach became a village to house Filipino independence activists in 1901.  The Philippines like Guam became an American territory as a consequence of the Spanish-American War.  There is a monument on the beach in recognition of Apolonario Mabini who was the most famous of the 42 exiles and is still considered a hero in the Philippines:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Of further interest was that in 1917 this beach was also used to house German prisoners of war from World War I.  A German cruiser, the SMS Cormoran had been docked in Apra Harbor for 3 years and subsequently the U.S. Naval authorities demanded that they surrender and then imprisoned the Germans here on Asan Beach. Finally in 1922, Asan Beach became a U.S. Marine Corp camp that even had a small arms range on it.  With all this past activity on the beach it is easy to understand now why there is such a large open space in front of the beach instead of jungle.  This large open space also made me think about how the Marines that landed here in 1944 had to cross it under fire from Japanese machine gunners located in the hills around the beach:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

This thought was further brought home as I read this memorial plaque located on the beach in honor of the Marines that landed here to expel the Japanese on July 21, 1944:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Here is a panorama I took from the memorial that shows the large open area the Marines would have had to cross as part of their landing on Asan Beach:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

It had to have been hellish for those Marines to take this beach.  From the memorial I walked over to the beach and took this picture:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

The tranquility of the beach today stands in stark contrast to what it must have been like to be a Marine wading through these shallow waters in an attempt to gain a foothold on the beach while getting shot at and shelled from all directions:

Picture from Asan Beach, GuamPicture from Asan Beach, Guam

From the beach I then proceeded to follow a path to the south which led to this sign warning of the unexploded ordinance danger that remains in the area and throughout Guam due to the World War II battle that encompassed this island:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

The path continued on to a memorial that recognized the contributions from the different services that fought during that month long World War II battle to free Guam:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Here is a closer look at the memorial that was put in place during the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Guam back in 1994:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

As I walked around the memorial I noticed this hiking trail located directly behind it:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

I followed the path up a hill that quickly became surrounded by jungle:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

As I followed the trail through the jungle I noticed these stairs leading down the side of the hill which I decided to follow:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

The stairs led down to a Japanese bunker complex that had direct line of sight of anyone wading through the shallow waters on this section of Asan Beach:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Here is a closer look at the old Japanese bunker:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

I could not help, but wonder how many Marines were gunned down by the personnel manning this bunker in the beautiful waters lying in front of me?:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

After checking out the bunker I walked back up the stairs and regained the main trail.  As I followed the trail I noticed another side trail that ended up leading to a bunker complex this time on top of the hill:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

From the bunker the personnel manning it would have had a line of sight of Marines landing on both sides of the hill:

Picture from Asan Beach, GuamPicture from Asan Beach, Guam

Here is a panorama of the field of view this bunker had of the Marines that landed on this beach in July 1944:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

From the bunker I walked to the end of the trail where it stops at a small grass clearing where this benchmark can be seen:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

From the grass clearing I had one more final sweeping view of Asan Beach from the hill:

Picture from Asan Beach, Guam

Conclusion

The visit to Asan Beach after checking out the War in the Pacific visitor center helped me better understand the conditions the Marines that landed here had to fight through back in 1944.  I highly recommend hiking the trail up the ridgeline to get some good views of the beach.  From the ridgeline I could visualize in my mind the Japanese machine gunners shooting down into the clearing at US Marines with absolutely no cover.  The US Marine landings during the Battle of Guam is just another example of the bravery of our World War II generation that can be seen for yourself at Asan Beach.

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