Young history buffs continue to refurbish WWII relics

The refurbished Japanese World War II tank on Beach Road that was painted in Jan. 20, 2018. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The CNMI is littered with machinery used as weapons during the Second World War back in the 1940s and a group of young history junkies aim to refurbish these relics to restore them to their former glory.

Jarae Pierce, a 16-year-old high school student, is the founder of the Historic Restoration Committee that aims to bring the life back into the war relics that are both tourist attractions and historical artifacts.

“My group is called the Historic Restoration Committee…half of us are still in high school and half of us have just graduated high school,” he said.

The group completed it first project back in Jan. 20, 2018, which was the Japanese World War II tank on Beach Road.

“We painted the tank, our first project, back in Jan. 20th. The tank’s base coat was a bit wrong so we’re fixing it as soon as possible…. we and Historic Preservation Office want to make it absolutely perfect, but after that we plan to do more projects such as the guns on the intersection on beach road, Toyota side, and of course other guns and tanks on the island and our last goal…is the Last Command Post,” he said.

The group also created a replica of a Japanese Type One 47mm Anti-Tank Gun as their second project.

“We actually did a second project, a Japanese Type One 47 millimeter anti-tank gun, but that’s not really known because HPO didn’t really tell us where to put it,” he said.

Pierce said that their projects are based off of photos they find through extensive research. The group works closely with the Historic Preservation Office to ensure that the colors and details are correct.

“We base our refurbishing [based] on online photos like battle photos on Saipan. Most of the photos are black and white so research can be very hard and researching Japanese documents were hard because most were destroyed after the war,” he said.

Pierce said that their funding to carry out their projects come from generous community members who share the same passion for history as they do, but they are still looking for more sponsors for money is scarce.

“For our first two projects, our funds came from different individuals who wanted to give money to our cause but after that, less and less people wanted to fund us so we are running out of places to get funds…Some organizations want to fund us but I’m only 16 and cannot get a business license,” he said.

Pierce said his love for history, which he has had since he was a child, is what drives him to continue the projects.

“I always thought that it (war relics) looked wrong and it’s about time that they start looking right,” he said.

The group’s third project will be the torpedo next to the As Lito airfield, and their fourth project might be an anti-aircraft gun.

“The Last Command Post will be our sixth project, but these are still in the early planning phases,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.

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