” The Sea Rebel ” Guam to Saigon: Ghosts of War (Part 1)

By Dwain C. Crum
April 3, 2013 • 697 views

dfp3 As we left Australia and headed for Guam ship enrichment lecturer Gary Shahan said “Everywhere we go from Guam onward for the next few weeks was controlled by Japan during World War II”.

Gary taught social studies in Phoenix, Arizona for 32 years, many of them at Desert Vista High School.  His lectures on board the Pacific Princess always provided a great framework to the places we were about to see.

While I had never visited any of the places we were about to visit I did feel a link to them all.  My late father, Lester L. Crum, had been drafted by the U.S. Army during World War II and sent to the Pacific.  His tales of places like Bougainville, Cebu and Yokohama are still vivid in my memory.  Some of the things that he had seen during that war still haunted him till the day he died in 2001.

Guam, located 2,150 nautical miles from Cairns, Australia is called “Palmdale on an island” by my cousin Dean Baxley.  In many ways he is right, but parts of Guam have their own uniqueness as well.  Founded by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, and controlled by Spain until the Spanish-American War of 1898, it has been an American possession except for a brief period of Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

My tour guide, June, said that roughly 40% of Guam is controlled by the U.S. Military today.  It is the world’s per capita leader of eating spam (sorry Hawaii!) and grows only about 5% of the food it’s population needs.  It is the former home of the world’s largest McDonalds and is the current home of the world’s largest K-Mart.

From Guam to Osaka, Japan it is 1,380 nautical miles.  As we set sail for Japan, I had already traveled 14,937 nautical miles on the Pacific Princess in addition to the 2,878 statute miles that I had done in the U.S. at the beginning of this journey.

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