About a dozen war survivors from Mangilao gathered at the village community center on Friday for the unveiling of a memorial in honor of all the village's residents who suffered and died during World War II.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio and other elected officials joined the crowd during the ceremony.

"We are gathered here, 75 years after the end of the World War II, to dedicate a memorial and monument to what happened here at Mangilao in those dark years of war," said Mangilao Mayor Allan Ungacta. "Between those eastern beach cliffs and the church behind us was a Japanese command post ... where thousands of people were marched from the northern and central part of Guam through this site."

"From this site, they were directed on the forced marches to Ta'i, Mañenggon, some to Asinan, to Togcha' and to Mata. This was the site where for the last time some families were complete - and it was from this site that some were marched, never to return."

The event was held just nine days before the island is set to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Guam's liberation from the Japanese occupation in World War II.

"I live in Mangilao all of my life," said Maria Cruz Quitugua, 86, the honored speaker for the ceremony.

The retired teacher recalled a brief moment when U.S. troops fought to defeat Japanese forces that occupied Guam.

"I was in shock, very happy and I thank God and the military that they came to Mañenggon and saved us," Quitugua said. "The Japanese gathered us at Mañenggon because they wanted to kill all the CHamorus. So that is how it was during the war."

"I love the military to be present in Guam because when China wants to come and attack us we already have the military," she said, as the crowd cheered. "I'm sorry to tell you that when they say bad things about the military, I get upset because when we were up at Mañenggon, who do you think saved us? God and the military."

Officials and survivors also placed wreaths at the memorial located in front of the Mangilao Mayor's Office.

"This monument plaque represents our love, our affection and our respect for those who were here," Ungacta said. "What happened here will never be forgotten and we will somehow continue to memorialize all the sacrifices and suffering that occurred here."

The Mañenggon Memorial Foundation and its partners planned, designed and built the monument plaque.