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On Walkabout On: Agat Beach, Guam

Basic Information

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Narrative

The next stop in my tour of Guam’s World War II sites that compose the War in the Pacific National Historical Park was Agat Beach:

Agat Beach was one of two landing sites for the US Marines on July 21, 1944, with the other one being Asan Beach to the north.  The Marines landed on these two beaches which are on each side of the Orote Peninsula in order to isolate it and then capture the peninsula.  The Orote Peninsula was where a key airfield and harbor was located as well as being the location of the Marine Barracks the Japanese captured back in 1941.  These barracks were of high sentimental interest to the US Marines who were determined to win them back from the Japanese occupiers of Guam.  The below graphic provides a good overview of the front lines during the course of the month long battle to free Guam:

Here is a summary of the battle on Agat Beach from the National Park Service website:

On July 21, 1944, the first wave of the Southern Landing Force invaded Guam in Agat. The young men in the assault were part of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, which consisted of the 4th and 22nd Marine Regiments. The 4th Marines were to storm onto beaches designated White 1 and 2, establish a beachhead, protect the flank of the brigade, and then proceed to secure Mt. Alifan. The 22nd Marines, after landing at beaches designated Yellow 1 and 2, were to secure Agat Village and drive north and cut off Orote Peninsula. In 1944 Agat was centered more to the north and no buildings remain from the original village. The next wave of soldiers were the 305th Regimental Combat Team, part of the 77th Army Infantry Division, but temporarily attached to the 1st Marine Brigade for the initial assault. The 305th Regimental Combat Team landed later that day at 1400. They waded ashore because there were no LVT’s (Landing Vehicle Tractors) available. The 305th Regimental Combat Team was to make a passage of lines of the 4th Marine Regiment and protect that sector of the beachhead. The fighting at Agat was severe, particularly during the first night as the Japanese 38th Regiment launched a major counterattack. Ultimately, it took 3 days to firmly establish the southern beachhead. On July 24, 1944, the reported losses of US forces numbered near 1,000. The island itself was not declared secure until August 10, 1944. The total casualties for the Japanese forces from July 21 – August 10 were estimated over 10,900.  [National Park Service]

During the Battle of Guam the sounds of combat on Agat Beach had to be extremely loud compared to today where the only sounds that I heard were of the tour buses stopping and letting out their herds of primarily Japanese tourists to visit the beach.  As soon as the tour buses left I literally had the entire beach to myself.  The first thing I did was walk over to the flagpoles that had the Japanese, American, and Guam flags flying over the beach.

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Next to the flagpoles there were a few signboards explaining the battle and artifacts left on the beach:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

This signboard provided a summary of the landing at Agat Beach:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

One of the artifacts that visitors can see is this coastal defense gun:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

The below signboard explained how this 20mm cannon was used to target approaching US landing ships:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

I could only imagine how many Americans were killed by this gun as they tried to get ashore on this beach.  Another artifact that can be seen is this anti-aircraft gun:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Below is the signboard that provides a description of this weapon:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Here is the view from the flagpoles looking back inland where Mt. Alifan can be seen rising over the beach:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Mt. Alifan was where a Japanese headquarters was located which commanded the southern defenses for Guam.  From the flagpoles I then walked down to the beach and took this picture looking up at the flagpoles:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

I thought it was interesting that in peace the Japanese flag has flown longer over Guam than during war time where they tried to forcibly take Guam.  On the beach I could see that there was still some fortifications that could be seen that were backdropped by the Orote Peninsula in the distance:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Here is a panorama photo I took of Agat Beach:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

Here is another panorama photo I took further up Agat Beach where the sand turns into a rocky shoreline:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

I then proceeded to walk north up this rocky shoreline around a small hill on my right:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

This small hill was turned into a castle of fortifications by the Japanese to defend Agat Beach with.  It seemed everywhere I looked I could spot a bunker:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

As I walked around the small hill I then came this signboard that explained the Battle for the Orote Peninsula:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

After reading the signboard I then continued my walk around the hill and checking out the various Japanese bunkers:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

The National Park Service has done a good job reinforcing these bunkers so they do not collapse:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

I then found a small trail that led to the top of the hill that was capped by this tree:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

From the top of the hill I had a nice view of the Orote Peninsula:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

I also had a nice view from the hill looking east towards Mt. Alifan:

Picture from Agat Beach, Guam

It was sobering to think that this beautiful view I was taken in was once a place of horror where thousands of Americans were killed and wounded to take this terrain from the Imperial Japanese.

Conclusion

After taking in the views from the small hill I then proceeded to walk back to my car.  My timing was quite good because as I was walking back three more buses pulled into the lot spilling their hordes of picture taking Japanese tourists.  For anyone thinking of visiting Agat Beach it may be best to wait for the tour bus crowd to leave to really enjoy this place.  It seems like the tour buses have a set schedule to where they spend about 30 minutes at Agat Beach before moving on.  Once their gone it is much easier to read the signboards, take pictures, and really reflect on what happened here over 70 years ago.  It made me appreciate even more what the Greatest Generation had to do during World War II.  That should be reason enough for American visitors to Guam to tour these old World War II sites like Agat Beach.

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