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Guam: A Tale of Two Evaders

Left: RM1c George Ray Tweed     Right: Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

A Tale of Two Evaders

Guam: 21 July - 10 August 1944

RM1c George Ray Tweed

When the Japanese invaded Guam on 10 December 1941, six American sailors managed to escape into the jungle: AerM1c Luther Wilbur Jones, Y1c Adolph Yablonsky, CMM Michael Krump, RM1c Albert Tyson, MM1c Clarence Johnston and RM1c George Ray Tweed. The Japanese systematically hunted the men, offering 100 yen for the first five and 1000 yen for Tweed, who was an experienced radioman. While hiding in a cave, he managed to fix up a radio enough to receive an American station and for four months typed up an underground newsletter called the Guam Eagle, which renewed the local faith that the Americans would return to retake the island.

The Japanese caught and executed Jones, Yablonsky and Krump on 11 September 1942, and Tyson and Johnston on 22 October 1942. With the help of some Chamorro families, Tweed managed to evade capture, despite the 50-man patrol detailed to capture him. In late October 1942 a local man, Antonio Artero, led him to a makeshift cave, high in the cliffs over the northwest coast of the island. For twenty-one months Tweed hid there, waiting for the day the Americans would return. To pass the time he played solitaire, made shoes for the local families and studied algebra. During that time, the Japanese forces on the island increased from 6,000 to around 20,000.

On 11 June 1944, Tweed began seeing American planes flying over the island and dropping bombs. From his cliffside perch, he watched the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" as American aviators decimated the Japanese airpower. When he spotted American destroyers cruising along the coastline, he tried signaling them with makeshift semaphore flags and a 3-inch mirror. Finally, on 11 July, one ship noticed his signals and Tweed was able to tell them all that he had observed about the Japanese defenses. That night, they sent a boat to pick him up. After 31 months, RM1c Tweed was free.

RM1c George Ray Tweed

RM1c George Ray Tweed

The view from Tweed's cave.

The view from Tweed's cave.

Tweed's cave

Tweed's cave




Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

On 24 January 1972, two men checking their shrimp traps in southern Guam stumbled across a Japanese man hidden in the reeds. Close questioning revealed him to be Sergeant Soichi Yokoi, who had fled to the jungle with other soldiers when the Americans retook the island on 21 July 1944. By 1960, all but three men had been recaptured, surrendered or died, leaving only Yokoi, Saturo Nakahata and Mikio Shichi.

They survived by eating fruit, rats and fish. The three men separated in 1957, but stayed near each other. Nakahata and Shichi died in 1964, leaving Yokoi alone and living in a dugout near the Talofofo River, 6 ½ feet deep and 13 feet wide, for the last eight years. They had known since 1952 that the war was over but had been too ashamed to surrender, as the Bushido code had taught them that death was preferable to capitulation.

Sergeant Soichi Yokoi in January 1972

Sergeant Soichi Yokoi in January 1972

Yokoi was a tailor by trade, and he made his own copper needles and cloth from tree fibers and sewed himself three suits of clothes, complete with buttons and pockets. He had made utensils and cooking pots from old canteens, food cans and bamboo. He used a lens to make a cooking fire. All of his time and energy focused on staying hidden and getting enough food and he fell into a routine of staying in the cave during the day and foraging in the evening.

Yokoi found out that the government told his family that he had died in 1944, and his mother had erected a tomb for him. Unlike the joy and pride that had accompanied RM1c Tweed upon his rescue, Sergeant Yokio’s return was tinged with shame. He had brought back his government-issued rifle, in order to return it to the Emperor and ask forgiveness for not having served as well as he should have. His first words to the people of Japan upon his arrival were "Though I am ashamed, I am alive and have come home again."

Yokoi's Cave




CMH Related Publications

  • The War Against Japan
  • Western Pacific by Charles R. Anderson
  • Campaign in the Marianas, by Philip A. Crowl
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