Guam – Sixty-nine years ago today, Japanese aircraft from Saipan attacked Guam, forever changing life our island. Today [Wednesday] World War II Survivors gathered at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral–Basilica to share memories of what life was like during the occupation of Guam by Imperial Japanese forces.
Shortly after Imperial Japanese Forces bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, on the other side of the international date line, Japanese aircraft from Saipan attacked Guam at 8:27am. At the time of the Attack, island residents were celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Mass at the Cathedral-Basilica. That mass was interrupted by the attack. Today marks the 69 anniversary of that dreadful day on Guam and the Cathedral paid a tribute to the island’s war survivors. This event allowed war survivors to share memories from that time. The stories vary from location to location and from people to people. Some people were lucky and some suffered hardships.
Sixty-seven year old Concepcion Judicpa was born on December 9th 1943, two years after Japanese Special Forces landed on Guam. While in a concentration camp her hand was severely burned and it is a constant reminder of the war.
Judicpa says, “It did effect me because as far as social, growing up with a scarred hand , my self confidence was very low. But I didn’t learn until I was an adult that there’s more important things than vanity. There are others who suffered more than her and thanks the Lord that she is still alive.
Ninety-six year young Regina Reyes says during the war she lived in Mangilao with her husband and their five kids . When the Japanese came they stayed at her house. with my five kids. And when the Japanese came they made my husband work til the end of his life. Thank God I reached this age because I suffered too much. They killed my husband, the Japanese raped me and they paid me nothing.
After the Japanese killed her husband, she was forced to raise her children on her own. She was a seamstress and ended up making a deal with one of her neighbors. She made clothes in exchange for a cow. Reyes says the cow ended up providing food for all of them.
Ninety- one year old Jack Lujan recalls hiding in the jungle with his family . Shortly before the Americans landed on Guam, the Japanese discovered his family and told them to form a circle in front of a nearby cave. Lujan says the Japanese were getting ready to shoot them.
According to Lujan, “We all formed a circle. I was the first one to get cut. Immediately the third marine was close enough they started shooting with a machine gun and scared the Japanese away. Thank God we were saved. And the Americans saved us.”
Concepcion Judicpa says today is a day for forgiveness and she has forgiven the Japanese for what they have done.
Judicpa says, “I hope and pray that the war survivors don’t take it out on the young Japanese because they are innocent, just like how I was when I was young. They too are innocent. So I think forgiveness is what is important not so much the war reparations. Everyone needs to love one and another. And for the Japanese tourist, I embrace them. I’m sure they feel bad at what happened, its beyond their control.”