HAGATNA, Guam (AP)—The Guam Preservation Trust is determined to put the Chagui’an Massacre site in Yigo into the National Register of Historic Places.
There’s disagreement about the exact location of the site, however.
On Aug. 8, 1944, Marine Corps patrols from the 21st Regiment discovered 45 bodies of young Chamorro men in Chagui’an, beheaded and with their hands tied behind their backs. They had been forced by the Japanese into a treacherous march to carry supplies and ammunition to the Japanese command post at Mount Mataguac, almost a mile and a half south of the massacre site.
According to John Blaz, chairman of the Chagui’an Massacre memorial, the Chagui’an Massacre is sometimes called “The Unknown Massacre.”
On Monday, residents attended an informational public meeting at the Yigo mayor’s office, held by Garcia and Associates Natural and Cultural Resource Consultants.
Garcia and Associates was contracted by the Guam Preservation Trust to conduct research into the Chagui’an Massacre and build a packet to be presented to the National Register of Historic Places.
“This is important because most registered historical sites on Guam are Japanese strongholds. The Chagui’an Massacre is important to Chamorros. So, having Chagui’an on the registry will build up and balance out the community’s perspective of the war,” said Kelly Marsh-Taitano, a Nihi Ta Fan Hasso cultural and historical consultant.
Some in attendance, such as former Yigo Mayor Robert Lizama, questioned the proposed site, which is about 100 yards north of Chalan Emsley.
Lizama was part of the original trek to the current Chagui’an Massacre memorial site in 2004. The site was discovered using the coordinates given by the 3rd Marine Division and oral accounts by Chamorro war survivors during interviews conducted by students of Peter Onedera at the University of Guam.
According to data presented at the meeting, the current Chagui’an Massacre site and the proposed site that will be presented to the National Register of Historic Places are a short distance from each other, but still within the Chagui’an area.
Garcia and Associates project manager Cecilie Craft estimates the distance from the original site to the proposed site to be roughly one kilometer.
“What happened is more important than the technical location,” said Jolie Liston, a principal investigator with Garcia and Associates.
Changes in technology
Liston said past researchers hand-plotted locations on maps, whereas Garcia and Associates used current technology.
“It’s interesting to note that the topographic maps used during World War II aren’t even the same latitude and longitude as current maps using modern technology,” Liston said.
Both sites would be part of the proposed memorial area, which satisfied both parties.
“I’m happy that people are still talking about the site,” said Lizama. “These are our uncles — Chamorros who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must not forget them.”