In the Battle of Guam, four U.S. Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor. There were also at least 19 Navy Crosses earned here. There were scores of Silver Star Medals earned on Guam and hundreds of Bronze Stars Medals earned. Every medal has a story that recognizes courage and bravery. There are also an even larger number of uncredited deeds during the campaign.
Every medal has a story and many medal citations contain vignettes telling just how courageous these acts were. On the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters website, there are detailed citation documents. Here are a few of the Silver Star citations for acts recognized during the Battle of Guam.
On July 23, 1944, Capt. Anthony Askin led his men to take out a machine gun nest and refused to be evacuated after injury until his unit defenses were established. On July 31, 1944, Cpl. Howard Ballard was a fire group leader who moved forward under heavy machine gun fire to assist one of his men who was wounded. On July 21, 1944, Sgt. George Behanna, climbed out of his tank under enemy fire to direct it using hand signals, thereby ensuring that the other tanks in his group could move forward. On Aug. 8, 1944, Pfc. Arthur Clements Jr. moved forward to help a wounded man, ran out of ammunition, went back to the rear area to reload and returned to assist, but was killed in this action. On July 25, 1944, Pfc. Charles Davis volunteered to move in against a suspected ambush site alone and covered his men in an assault against them. On July 26, 1944, Sgt. Werner Eubanks was on the Asan beach head and was instrumental in repelling night attacks by the enemy. On July 21 and 22, Capt. William Ford directed naval gunfire from an exposed position and after an infantry unit lost its officers, he led these men until an infantry officer could be assigned to them. On July 28, 1944, under heavy fire Pfc. Harold Gray climbed onto tanks on four separate occasion to help direct their fire against hostile positions.
The examples above are just from U.S. Marines. There were also numerous medals earned on Guam by U.S. Army soldiers and airmen.
On April 12, 1945, Army Airman Staff Sgt. Red Erwin saved his B-29 aircraft and crew by hand carrying a burning flare out of a window of his aircraft. On Guam, Gen. Curtis LeMay expedited his Medal of Honor, fearing Erwin would succumb from his injuries. The only medal in the theater was in the Bishop Museum in Hawaii and this Medal of Honor was sent to Guam for his April 19, 1945 presentation in the hospital. Red Erwin lived until 2002.
Finally, Guam Patrol Police Staff Sgt. Juan U. Aguon earned a Silver Star Medal for his work on the Guam Combat Patrol in the four years following the war. Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was the last Japanese soldier to surrender on Guam in 1972.
Ron McNinch teaches at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration.