Hagåtña, Guam – United States (Territory)

Veteran Stories

>> Hi, everybody.

I am now here at the newer Korean War Memorial in Guam.

This is, as you can see, a very central [Indistinct] governor complex.

Ocean in the back.

It’s really beautiful here, and we just laid flower honoring all 19 soldiers who died, you know, in the Korean War, and there’s still one accounted for.

So I’m going to actually take you to here, but … Oh, hey.

So this beautiful young lady … We’re going to go to the shade … is the granddaughter of a Korean War veteran, okay, and I want you to … So she’s kind of like my cousin, but I want you to tell me what it means to you that you’re here to lay the flowers and to kind of honor your father’s memory, grandfather’s memory as well.

First of all, what’s your name?

>> Lauren.

>> Lauren.

>> Yeah.

>> How pretty she is.

>> My real name is actually Anna.

>> Oh.

>> Yeah.

But my grandpa died when I was around 7, so I didn’t really know him that well because I was really young, and I really didn’t know anything about him, like, as he fighting, but ever since my grandma was in the Korean War veteran organization, I’ve been following her around to all these events, and it just makes me so proud of him and to be able to honor him even though he’s already gone.

It’s actually been 12 years.

>> Wow.

>> Yeah, so I don’t know.

It just means a lot for me to be here because I know that it means a lot to him …

>> Yes.

>> … that I get to be here.

>> And so her grandfather earned a Purple Heart, one of the two Guamanians that did, and so I said, “You know, earning a medal doesn’t make any veteran’s life more precious but that she should be very proud.”

Also I want to point out that same memorial is in [Indistinct] South Korea.

It was build on October [Indistinct] October 5th in 2000 at the same time on the same day in different locations, so that’s very meaningful.

I also have somebody from the governor’s office here.



Oh, hello!

I want … Can you say hello over there?

>> Hello!

>> Hello.

He’s 91 years young [Indistinct], and she …

>> [Indistinct].

>> … is from the governor’s office to represent and say hello on his behalf.

So can you …

>> Oh, yeah.

Thank you so much.

Veterans issues are very important to the governor.

He sent me to represent him.

We are very appreciative of the efforts the governor has seen in the families and the veterans for many years on Guam, the Korean War, the Vietnam War.

We have multiple veterans present here, and we are so grateful for their sacrifice which is inestimable.

I couldn’t even find words to describe.

Myself, I am a younger person.

My great-uncle, Owen Bowman, fought in the Korean War.

>> Oh!

>> He was a veteran himself.

>> Yes.


>> Thank you!

>> And it’s just an honor to have an event like this for our veterans to celebrate them and to recognize the incredible sacrifices that they have made.

>> Oh, thank you.

>> So thank you for having us.

Thank you for coming.

>> Thank you.

I’m going to give you the …

>> It’s unexpectedly …

>> … heart pin for your great …

>> Great-uncle, Owen Bowman.

>> Yes.

>> Thank you.

>> We honor his service as well.

I just want to point out that I learned today from Congresswoman [Indistinct] office that there are 2,400 Korean War veterans currently living in Guam, so that means at least 5,000 went from this small island.

>> Yes.

>> So thank you so much.

I’m going to show you my grandpas and grandmas.

Say hello!

>> Hello.

>> Hello.

Or you say [foreign] hafa adai.

>> [ Foreign ] Hafa adai.

>> Yes.

>> [ Foreign ] Hafa adai.

>> Some of them already went because we’re going to go to another cemetery, but I’m going to end with this sight.

Do you see the beach there or the ocean, the sea?

It is so beautiful, and I also want to end with a shout-out to god.

It was forecasted to rain, okay, the whole day today, and I don’t know.

It stopped raining.

It is sunny and bright.

It’s a little bit too hot, so god is always good.

Thank you, god.

Thank you, everybody, for joining me on this journey, and I am just so grateful, and yes, when in Guam, you wear what Guamanians do.

So remember77.org.

Thank you very much.


[ Foreign ] Hafa adai.

… grandfather, so it makes us kind of cousins because we know I call your grandfather my grandfather.

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah.

So what does it feel like?

>> It just makes me really proud of him [Indistinct], but I [Indistinct].

>> Yeah, and not that a medal makes a veteran, his life, any more precious.

However, your grandfather did earn a Purple Heart, and I thank him for that, and I’m sure you are very, very, very proud.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Yes.

And we were waiting for you, General.


Well, since you’re continuing the legacy fought by the veterans, you know, you’re defending our country and really the freedom.

Could you say briefly what it means to follow in their footsteps?

>> The sacrifice that [Indistinct].

Remember the families that made a sacrifice, too, so thank you.

>> Yeah.

So I know I spoke at length yesterday about just … For those of you who weren’t there yesterday, I’ll briefly say why I’m here.

Well, basically, I’m here to say thank you to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but I wanted to meet you …

>> Thank you.

>> … you know, meet you and let us know that your service and that of your husbands were not in vain.

I am [Indistinct], we’re all products of what they fought for, and we, unlike, you know, [Indistinct] freedom [Indistinct] freedom, so I know what that means, and for me to have worked in the United States Congress, I mean, to me, that was a great honor.

So I wanted to travel to every single country [Indistinct] veteran, so I visited 27 in total and then, because I went to the 21 United Nations plus the other side, I also went to … Now this is where it’s very important.

It’s very local and personal for me, so having worked for a Black prominent member of Congress and being a young Asian female on the mainland, I’m a minority of minorities, so I’m very conscious of those who [Indistinct] society may not think are … You know, we’re not newsworthy.

We’re not, you know, so for me when I was visiting all the 50 states, people said, “Good job. You’re done,” and I said, “No, I’m not.”

Sometimes people don’t even think about the territories, but I was very, very … In Congress, the Guam representative, Congresswoman Bordallo, and her and her staff, they were very active, so I knew about Guam.

I knew that there were many veterans here.

I knew that there was a significant population, so I said, “No way, Jose. I am not, you know … I’m not forgetting those in the US territories.”

I have to admit, it’s a little bit far and difficult to get here, but it’s worth it because that’s how much I want everyone to know how much I care and how much you [Indistinct] even more remember because I think it was even more difficult for you in the smaller island to go and fight, you know, so I’ve been to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Now I’m in Guam, and after this, I’m going to the American Samoa, and that will be my last, last, ultimate, last stop, but yes.

So here, I’m simply here to say thank you, and I know all of you have the pin that I gave yesterday, right?

>> Nope.

>> Except for … Yep.

I brought it for you.

So again, this is a representation of my heart and love for …

>> My name is Alfred Ignacio. I was born in February, 21st, 1934. I joined the military in November 1951. We left for basic training in Hawaii Schofield on November 29th. We arrived in Hawaii on December 8th. Survived basic training for 16 weeks, infantry basic training. After basic training, they have list of people for different assignment. Some assigned to US, some for Korea during the war. My name fall under the Korea assignment. We were supposed to go straight from Hawaii to Korea, and we kind of declined and asked if we can go home first and see our family before we go to war, so they let us. They give us, I think, like 8 delaying … 8 days delaying route to stay with our family and wife. Then we boarded a ship that was going to Japan, and from Japan, they ship us to Korea. We came in the late afternoon the Korean Peninsula. We cannot disembark because it was too daylight, and so we wait until nighttime when it’s dark, and then we disembark, and while we disembark replacing them. Also we met on the way that were going out to replace us. We are the replacement for them. From there, they took us to in the train, and we went to classes in Yeongdeungpo. Some other men before we get to assigned to our unit, I was a … Then later I was assigned to the 45th Infantry Division. They were pulled off the line resting when I arrived to this unit, and I met them there. From there, we wait for maybe a week or two before we move up to the front line with this new unit that I was assigned to, and from there, we have assignment on this section of main line of resistance. They call it MLR. Our mission actually is mostly defensive instead of offensive. We do offensive, but not as much as defensive. We have to secure combat outposts, and that’s where most of the fighting are because this is very important section of the line that everybody wants to take, the enemy and us, so if they are the one occupying, we try to take it from them, and if we overrun them, they lose. We took it, but then they’ll try to take it back again, so that’s how we fight. A lot of the people at this outpost were American people who take the wounded and dead, but the enemy, they just left the dead, so the place is very nasty. It’s dirty, stink, dead people all over the place, especially in the summer. It’s … You can’t hardly stand the smell. It’s terrible. In the winter, it’s not too bad because they don’t decompose like the summer. That’s how we … Like I said, mostly we do defensive, not offensive. We don’t go out and attack them or like that. We just try to maintain what we have and guard it and not for them to take it back, and that’s how the mostly the people that do that. Then we have to move to get some more, and that’s when we would be offensive. I stayed there. I have to make 36 points to go home. If you up on the front line, you get four points a month. If you move back to a blocking position, which is a little bit behind the line, you get three points a month, and then a little bit further back, maybe relaxation area, you get two points, and if you go back to the gate, the Army Reserve area, you get one point a month, so the more you stay out on the line, faster you can get the points to go home. It took me about almost a year to make that 36 points because sometimes we go back, rest, come back on again until the time comes that I make my points. Then I go home.

>> Tell me about the Inchon Landing, the Second Inchon Landing.

>> It’s not really a landing. It’s … That’s where we disembark from the pack. I think that’s where the ship comes in to disembark people. I don’t know about that first Inchon Landing. Okay. I think there’s a story about that. I didn’t even know about that.

>> But how about your experience from Inchon?

>> The tour when we went to Korea, the agent make arrangement for the Korean veterans to visit Korea. That’s when the tour people told us that this is the Inchon Landing, and I didn’t know what took place on that first time, and … Because I was in maybe third group. The first one, I think it’s the Inchon Landing where they to have to fight their way in, or I don’t know. When we came near, we were not being …

>> And you said you lied to your mother about …

>> Yeah. Well, when I joined the military, I was 17 years old, and they won’t take me because you still have to be 18, and I really want to go. I was supposed to go to high school. I just graduate from the eighth grade in San Francisco, and I’m supposed to go to GW to high school, but instead of going to the high school, we all went to the recruiting office, and we sign in to join the military. Actually, I was going to go join the Air Force, but they said it’s full already. They don’t take anymore, so the Army is open, so we don’t have any choice. We took the Army, and we have to take the test. Eventually, I passed it. They took me in, and I got lot of problems in my physical, and I get rejected for being in the military. I got a big red mark on my paper that said rejected, and I said, “Oh, my god. I want to go,” so somebody told me that there’s a way to fix my rejection. My tooth hurt bad, so I have to have it fixed, high blood pressure. That’s the one that they find on my physical, high blood pressure, and I have to … I went to the dentist and have it pulled out, the bad one, I think two or three. I have to pay for that, and then they said you drink … Maybe have a glass of vinegar for your high blood pressure, so I did. I drank the vinegar, and then I asked the doctor to take my blood pressure, and he says there’s nothing wrong. It’s all normal, so I took my paper to the recruiting office, and I turn it in. My tooth, I fix, and my blood pressure is normal, so they took me. That’s how I joined the military. My mother have to sign a paper. I lied to her. I said, “You have to sign this because I raised my hand already, and if you don’t sign it, I go to jail,” so she signed the paper. That’s how I get in the military, and I got the basic training. Oh, how a mess that I made.

>> How about now?

>> After that, no problem. I was happy. I enjoyed being in the military.

>> And you must be proud of your service.

>> Yeah, yeah, yeah.

>> I’m glad for what I did …

>> And I’m …

>> … and what I earned.

>> And I’m very grateful for what you did.

>> Yeah.

>> Thank you so much.

>> Yeah.

>> Thank you.

>> Okay.

Paying Tribute

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    Memorial Site

    Guam, a U.S. territory in Micronesia, participated in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. It served as a strategic military base.

    Approximately 1,000 Guamanians served in the US military and 20 Chamorro died in Korea. One still remains unaccounted for.

    The Korean War Memorial in Guam is located in Hagåtña alongside Marine Corps Drive. There is an identical memorial located close to the 38th parallel in Imjingak, South Korea.