Oral Histories of the Pacific War


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About the Book

The battle for Saipan is remembered as one of the bloodiest battles fought in the Pacific during World War II, and was a turning point on the road to the defeat of Japan. In this work, the survivors—including Pacific Islanders on whose land the Americans and Japanese fought their war—have the opportunity to tell their stories in their own words. The author offers an introduction to the volume and arranges the oral histories by location—Saipan, Yap and Tinian, Rota, Palau Islands, and Guam—in the first half, and by branch of service in the second half.

About the Author(s)

Bruce M. Petty served for two years on the U.S.S. Yorktown during the Vietnam War. A California native, he has lived in Saipan. His writings have been published in The Pacific Daily News, The Marianas Variety, Umanidat: A Journal of the Humanities and Journal of the Pacific Society. Formerly a nuclear medicine technologist, he currently writes in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Bibliographic Details

Bruce M. Petty

Format: softcover (7 x 9.25)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 96 photos, maps, index
Copyright Date: 2009 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4244-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1371-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1

PART I Micronesian Voices: Oral Histories of Pacific Islanders
1. Saipan
Japanese Father, Chamorro Mother—Vicky Vaughan      17
My Two Families—Sister Antonieta Ada      21
Escolastica—Escolastica Tudela Cabrera      24
The Fisherman’s Son—Juan Blanco      27
The Policeman—Gregorio C. Cabrera      31
Messenger Boy for the Japanese Police—Manuel T. Sablan      34
Provisional Marine—Cristino S. Dela Cruz      38
Arrested by the Kempeitai—David Sablan      40
Carolinian Elder—Felipe Iguel Ruak      45
With Father Tardio and the Nuns—Marie Soledad Castro      48
The Boy from Taegu—Taeki Lee      51

2. Yap and Tinian
The Flemings from Yap—Alfred Flores Fleming and Rosalia Aldan Fleming      55
The White Russian from Yap—Alex Tretnoff      59

3. Rota
Digging Tunnels on Rota—Antonio Shimabukuro Borja      62
Hungry and Thirsty on Rota—Jose King      64
Chicken and Corn—Jose Hocog Mundo      69

4. Palau Islands
I Worked for the Kempeitai—Roman Tmetuchl      72
The Sailor from Angaur—Manuel S. Sablan      75

5. Guam
The Interpreter—Henry S. Pangelinan      79
The Interpreter’s Wife—“Marikita” Palacios Crisostomo      82
From Sumay to Santa Rita—Gregorio Borja      85

American Voices: Oral Histories of U.S. Military Veterans and Their Families
6. The Marines
The First Armored Amphibian Battalion—Dale L. Barker      93
The Bastard Battalion—Frank Borta      99
Farm Boy from Oklahoma—Paul E. Cooper      104
Sixth Provisional Marine M.P. Battalion—James A. Moore      108
Maug Island—Robert Owensby      113
Marines Don’t Cry in Public—Robert Roland      117
Mr. Leary—Carl Matthews      121

7. The Army
Military Intelligence Service Attached to the
Twenty-seventh Army Division—Benjamin Hazard      132
A Nisei’s Story—Nobuo Richard Kishiue      141
The Thirty-third Coast Artillery Battery—Roland Fronheiser      147
Field Artillery Officer—Edmund Joseph Lyga      150

8. The Navy
Navy Civil Affairs Unit—Harris Martin      156
Gunnery Officer: USS Twining (DD 540)—William VanDusen      160
Patrol Bombing Squadron Twenty-two—Bob Willig      169

9. The Army Air Force
B-29 Lead Pilot—Ray Brashear      176
B-24 Nose Gunner—Gerald Shaffer      182

10. The Home Front
When Johnnie Didn’t Come Marching Home—Bill Winnekins      189
Already I Miss You as Much as I Thought I Would—Jane Broome Plante      195

Index      201

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “In 2002 when author-anthologist Bruce M. Petty began recording an amazing collection of choice World War II combat reminiscences for a trilogy unsurpassed to this day. All told, more than a hundred interviews were collected over the span of a decade to allow us buffs, enthusiasts, and living-room-armchair historians to relive in serviceman verse and prose battle experiences otherwise unavailable after eight decades…Meeting the military miens of Marines, officers, and their men, in often unforgiving, fathomless milieus, to read the actual words of eyewitnesses is rare. Thanks to the genius of the McFarland Publishing Company editorial staff, we, too, suddenly find ourselves at war…A serious question, reader. Do you earnestly, sincerely want to be there? If so, a must-read trilogy awaits…Each of the three volumes attempts to gather the most significant, easily understood, and authenticated images of the Pacific War…All are individually good and worth reading…vivid…truly capable of placing the reader at the foot of action.”—Argunners Magazine
  • “a first-rate work”—World War II Magazine
  • “this large, well illustrated…book preserves the generally interesting and frequently emotional reminiscences of civilians and soldiers who were involved in the bloody June-July 1944 liberation of Saipan”—The Journal of America’s Military Past
  • “survivors of this particularly horrendous battle…tell their stories in their own words”—Sea Power
  • “interesting”—
  • “an excellent introduction…includes detailed maps…lavishly illustrated with photographs…an important read…a must read…honors the past while giving the read plenty of new insights and perspectives to ponder”—Pacific Wrecks
  • “very thoughtful and moving accounts, many with ‘then and now’ photos. Nicely done and sure to appeal to anyone who likes oral histories”—Stone & Stone Second World War Books
  • “Should be read by all.”—Capt. James B. Johnson, USNR–Ret, former Naval Administrator
  • “Fascinating.”—Ruth Tighe
  • “excellent”—Catholic Library World