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War survivor recalls liberation struggles

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Born in 1923, Lourdes Cruz Gutierrez was just a teenager when Guam came under attack by the Japanese.  Now 83 years old and mother to six children she recalls the horrible times under enemy occupation, saying, "I was always scared, me and my sister she's so young, I always tell her, 'Don't be scared, because I'm here'."

She was at her family's ranch with her sister at the time the Japanese began their assault, recalling, "It rained all night and I was until in the morning I everybody going to go to Manenggon.  My sister said, 'Let's go, we ride the truck, we going to go to Manenggon, we going to go to be with our mother.'"

At Manenggon Lourdes and her sister found their mother, but the pain and suffering continued.  Her only saving grace was her faith.  "But before you know, I walked with my barefoot but I said my prayer, Our Father all the time, and I didn't feel nothing, I don't feel nothing on my feet.  That save me, my prayer."

There was no food, no water all there was: fear.  "I heard she talking, where's Lourdes, she's going to cut her neck if she didn't come, too.  They want me to go, so I keep praying I want to hide myself," she said.

Her fear eventually would change to hope - hope for a new life when the Americans stormed the shore of Asan to liberate Guam.  She eventually married a naval officer and became a Navy nurse.  66 years later, she celebrates freedom.

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