News: Father, son, squadron team renovates massacre memorial
Story by Senior Airman Katrina Brisbin
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - Members from the 36th Munitions Squadron and Boy Scouts of America Troop 1420 were recognized for their efforts in renovating the forgotten Chagui'an Massacre Memorial site during a memorial ceremony in Yigo, Guam, July 14.
Due to the fact that there were no survivors of the massacre, little is known about what actually happened in regards to the Chagui’an Massacre. It was documented in a military report that on Aug. 8, 1944, a patrol of U.S. Marines discovered the decapitated bodies of 45 Chamorro men in Chagui'an, Yigo. The story of these men was forgotten until 2004 when students from the University of Guam came across journals of Japanese officers telling the tale.
The first memorial ceremony for the Chagui'an Massacre was held in 2008. At the time, no monument was present at the site and the site itself was difficult to find. After Troop 1420 Boy Scout Jackson Umlauf attended the memorial ceremony in 2013, he thought more could be done to honor those who lost their lives during the massacre.
Jackson and his father, Maj. Kurt Umlauf, 36th MUNS operations officer, brought together the 36th MUNS Airmen and Boy Scouts of America Troop 1420 to update the memorial site.
More than 400 hours of work went into the beautification of the site. As Yigo’s sister squadron, the members of the 36th MUNS worked to improve the site alongside the scouts, who ranged in ages from 9-15. The Sister Squadron-Sister Village Program partners a squadron from Andersen Air Force Base with a local village to develop relationships between the base and the local community.
“The squadron supported the project by providing volunteers,” said the major. “Jackson created a schedule of sessions both on- and off-site to keep the project moving forward as funds were streaming in and materials were becoming available.”
After five months of planning and two months of labor, the memorial was completed in time for this month’s ceremony. Along with cleaning up the site, the team created four planter boxes and two garbage receptacles, planted a memorial garden, installed a memorial stone with an inscription and added two concrete benches. They also installed a series of informational street signs to lead guests from Marine Corps Drive to the memorial site.
“I'm very proud to have made such an impact; it first hit me when people were thanking us for installing the informational signs on Marine Corps Drive,” said Jackson in regards to helping point people in the direction of the ceremony, which was tucked away in the village off the regularly beaten path.
In his closing remarks during the ceremony, Rudy Matanane, mayor of Yigo, thanked Jackson, his family, and the 36th MUNS for their efforts.
“Their spirits of cooperation and volunteerism has made this village sister command relationship work as a true family unit,” said Matanane. “We thank you Airmen for a job well done.”