- What: Chaguian Massacre Site
- Where: Yigo, Guam, USA
- Cost: Free
- More Information: Washington Times
I was recently driving on Marine Corps drive through the northern village of Yigo when I noticed a small sign pointing towards a massacre site. I decided to make the turn and see what this site was. I followed a small road that passed by a few homes spaced out from each other in the thick jungle of northern Guam. Another sign for the massacre site pointed to a dirt road with a locked gate. I parked my car in front of the gate and proceeded to walk up the dirt road:
The early morning walk I took up the dirt road was quite nice with the fresh air and hearing all the animals in the jungle. After a short quarter mile walk I came to the site:
The site is really not much of a memorial. It is simply a lone cross with signboard and a couple of benches:
The board explains the history of the Chaguian Massacre:
The site memorializes the 45 Chamorro men who were used as force laborers by the Imperial Japanese Army to move supplies to the north of the island after the landings of the US Marines and Army on the south side of the island on July 21, 1944. After the Chamorros finished moving the supplies to a command post on Mount Mataguac their Imperial Japanese captors tied their hands behind their backs and then proceeded to chop all their heads off. If it wasn’t for a patrol of US Marines that stumbled upon the site on August 8, 1944 this horrible massacre may have never been known.
The massacre is often called the “Forgotten Massacre” on Guam simply because it was not widely known until 10 years ago:
It is often referred to as the forgotten massacre, as Yigo mayor Rudy Matanane said, “The site where this white cross that marks the site where 45 men brutally executed 70 years ago by the Japanese imperial forces.” These 45 men were randomly selected from the Manengon concentration camp in Yona to carry war supplies to a Japanese command post located at Milalak, Yigo near Chagui’an.
“The age range was 70 to 15 years old. The youngest had died,” he said.
During the liberation of Guam in July 1944, the US military didn’t even know about the command post. It wasn’t until about one month later as the battle reached Yigo that the 21st marine regiment discovered the 45 men decapitated here. Their story however was only truly uncovered ten years ago by students from the University of Guam who came across secret journals revealing the forgotten massacre. Guam historian Tony Ramirez has conducted extensive research about the Chaguian massacre and today fought back tears as he told the story of the youngest victim Ramon Baza Quitaro and what he must of felt before he took his last breath.
“He would have said this – nana mother, tata, father, yuus God, I am only 15 that’s the message,” he said. [KUAM]
This is definitely one of the worst tragedies of World War II for the people of Guam and hopefully in the future more work is done to make a better memorial then the simple cross that is there now. That simple cross for now though has created more awareness of this tragedy that hopefully the people of Guam will never experience again.