Guam – Students from Simon Sanchez High School (SSHS) toured some of the historical sites on U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) Feb. 29.
The students and their teacher visited the Sumay Cemetery, War Dog Memorial, Captain Glass monument at Gab Gab Beach and the Japanese Prisoner of War Amphitheatre.
“The Navy is committed to preserving the culture and heritage of Guam,” said NBG Public Affairs Officer Annette Donner. “One of the reasons we are so happy to bring the students onto the base is that it gives them an opportunity to see some of the cultural and historic sites that they normally wouldn’t have access to.”
First stop on the tour was Sumay, the site of a pre-World War II Chamorro village which was occupied by the Japanese during from 1942 to 1944, and later destroyed by the American pre-liberation bombardment. Today, a cross representing the village’s original church and the Sumay cemetery are all that remains.
“I didn’t know much about Sumay before, so I am actually pretty glad I went on this field trip,” said SSHS student Fatima Valencia.
[ Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Patrick Mihalko, assigned to U.S Naval Base Guam (NBG) security, talks about the history of military working dogs to Simon A. Sanchez High School students at the War Dogs Memorial on NBG Feb. 29. The students’ visit was part of a tour that took them to various historical and cultural sites on base. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 3rd Class Specialist Corey Hensley/Released)]
Valencia said the tour was part of a research project involving WWII that was assigned by her teacher.
After Sumay, the students were taken to the War Dog Memorial, home to the dogs that served with Marines on Guam during the war. Once there, they were surprised by NBG Security, who brought several of today’s working dogs and a spoke to the history of the War Dogs in Guam as well as the duties of today’s working dogs at NBG.
These devil dogs, as they are sometimes called, are documented as having saved hundreds of Marines’ lives during the WWII Battle for Guam. They were trained to search for enemies in the jungle, find mines and booby traps, and deliver messages, ammunition and medical supplies.
“This tour is an extension that helps [students] with their research,” said SSHS teacher Linda Taylor. “It also gives the students more knowledge about their heritage, about their culture, and about their history.”
At Gab Gab Beach the students learned the area is believed to have been a popular fishing site for ancient Chamorros and is near where the American flag was first raised on Guam in 1898 by Captain Henry Glass, claiming the island for the United States. More than 45 years later the area became a vast recreation center for the 50,000 Marines stationed on the base during WWII from 1944-1945. The students’ last stop was at the Japanese POW Amphitheater, built by Japanese prisoners of war in 1945.
For information on Guam history and Chamorro culture, visit www.guampedia.com