Friday, August 10, 2007

August 10, 1944 - From My Novel The Chorito Hog Leg, Book One: A Novel of Guam in Time of War

August 10th marks the day in 1944, when American Territory Guam was declared 'secure' after more than two years of Japanese Occupation. My historical novel, The Chorito Hog Leg, Book One: A Novel of Guam in Time of War tells the story of a teenager from Chicago, Tim Cullen, who maintains his vow to an officer he respects. Cullen's platoon commander, John A. Buck of Giddings Texas, asks Cullen to return an antique Colt Revolver to his family, in the event of his death. Lt. Buck trusts the young combat veteran to hold on to an return the Colt, knowing that their battalion commander desires the gun.

Book One of my novel is a fictional treatment of the events covering the time from April 1944 when the 3rd Marine Division trained for the Guam Campaign on Guadalcanal to the day, August 10, 1944, when Corps Commander General Roy Geiger declared Guam 'secure.' The irony is that more than 10,000 Japanese continued to fight the Chamorros of Guam, the U.S. Army and especially the men of the 3rd Marines (regt.) ofthe 3rd Marine Division. Here is the conclusion of Book One - from The Chorito Hog Leg, Book One: A Novel of Guam in Time of War:

Col. Stuart’s 3rd Marines with the Doggies of the 307th
on their right were gaining about four miles of Guam a day.
Now shifted to the Division’s left flank with elements of the 1st
Provisional Marine Brigade taking the east coast roads north
shattered the Japanese at Finegayan and finally liberated a town
– huts, pigs a chapel and gas station and plenty of desperate Japs.
Guys from the 21st Marines discovered about 30 Chamorros
mostly teenagers and old men, beheaded with their arms tied
behind their backs. Everywhere the Marines found abused and
terrified people – real boon dock dwellers and as unfamiliar
with English as they were with Japanese. The Marines and
G.I.s showered the people with boxes of rations and in turn the
liberators were kissed and housemaided! Many people tried to
follow the Marines up to the combat and needed to be gently but
sternly kept back. At night Marines heard howling through the
jungle and thought that some small animals were signaling their
final stages of starvation.

Lt. Ames - over Sgt. Mike Joyce’s strident ‘Are you fuckin’
nuts? Table of Organization, Sir! ‘- demanded to take point two
miles past Finegayan and was decorated with a sniper round
that made a clean hole through his forehead – he walked three
paces before he fell over. Pat Collins killed the sniper.
Stanley Paul and little Onarga Roberts were killed at the
road block defended by twenty Japanese soldiers and a light
tank. Henry Clay killed the crew of the tank when he noticed
that one of the hatches was opened slightly; tossed a white
phosphorous grenade down into the turret. Henry was still
talking to himself and his act of valor might have been an
attempted suicide, but he was awarded the Bronze Star (V) and
picked up a Purple Heart to boot because he had not closed
the hatch and a white hot smoking fragment went into his left
cheekbone. Never uttered a squeak. Maybe he was nuts.

Tim Cullen made great use of the Browning in this fire
fight and damaged the barrel so badly that he needed to have
the weapon surveyed with Sgt. Masterson and drew a new
Browning when they were pulled off the line.

On August 10th, the 3rd Marines reached the northern shore
of Guam and the 4th Marines of the 1st Brigade made Ritidian
Point. General Bruce’s 77th (MARINE) Division had conquered
Mount Santa Rosa and Yiga in the northwest of the island and
organized Japanese Operations ceased.
General Roy Geiger declared Guam secured. That was
nice, true and all, but more than 10,000 armed Japanese needed
to be flushed from the jungles of America’s most important
forward Base of Operations in the Pacific. A Company of 1st
Battalion, 3rd Marines was relieved of duties and marched back
to Agana. Chorito Cliff had been worth the sacrifice and now
Tim Cullen could honor his debt. He needed to stay as public
as possible. Though he genuinely liked Pat Collins now, Tim
Cullen would use his nearness; not so much for companionship
but to have some witness to whatever Major Opley planned in
the way of getting the Chorito Hog Leg. Tim could not wait
to have Regiment clerks prepare shipping manifests and Col.
Stuart’s signature and get rid of this fucking Colt!

He marched south carrying the Browning now out of action and
LieutenantJohn A. Buck’s Colt Revolver buttoned up under his

The long line of the A Company men passed their two brother
Companies and the Headquarters Company of 1st Battalion and
Major Lucas Opley. The Major caught Pfc. Cullen’s stare and
returned it in kind and but snapped a twitch when the BAR
man patted the covered shoulder holster and Colt in an open
act of defiance. 1st Battalion had work to do in the north and
would be back in Agana and Third Division Camp in a day or
two. This contest was far from over. Guam was secured but
Lieutenant Buck’s Colt was still on Guam. Opley would have it.
Cullen would return it to Buck’s family. Guam was secured, but
10,000 Japanese disagreed and would until 1972. That is war.

No comments: