Guam War Survivors: Part 4 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam War Survivors: Part 4

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Agana Heights resident Regina Reyes vividly recalls the days of World War II as if it were yesterday. "I still remember everything. I'm so old, but I still remember," she shared.

At 96 years old, she is forever haunted by what she endured during the Japanese occupation of Guam. With four young children living in the central village with her husband, Regina was five months pregnant with her fifth child when she had her first encounter with the Japanese. "I go to get the kids clothes in my house as soon as I got there, the Japanese came with his guns. He points at me with the gun and I said nothing. As soon as I said nothing he do what he wants. He raped me...nobody helped," she recalled.

Despite reporting the rape, no one was ever held accountable for what they did to her. Instead, Regina and her family were forced to move from their home, as she continued, "We moved to the jungle near Mangilao place; we build a small house with my kids. There's a river there. One evening, I just finished cooking, one evening they came and said the Japanese came and they lived on the other side of the river and they said you know what when the American pass by they gonna bomb. I just poured water because I know what he saying."

From there they were forced to live at the Manenggon concentration camp. It was there that Regina would see her husband Henry for the very last time. "They send somebody to say that he was gonna carry the things for the Japanese to Yigo, that's the word from him, I never see him," she said. "They make him work since the Japanese came. To the end of time, I never see him." Overcome with emotion, she added, "I'm lucky I'm still okay because you know what? Who gonna raise my kids?"

At the end of the war, Regina was left homeless with four children and a baby on the way.  But she was resilient and resourceful, a strong woman who worked tirelessly to take care of her children.  Every day for years, Regina would make and sell corn tortillas to ensure her children were taken care of. The silent tears that fall from her face today are remnants of the pain she endured more than six decades ago at the hands of the Japanese. "Thanks to God, I'm still okay. It's so painful," she said, weeping openly.

Yet through the tears, she manages to find joy - grateful for the many blessings that have made up her nearly century-long life. And as every day passes, Regina is still hopeful that the United States will make good on war reparations and helping close a horrific chapter of her life.

"I'm so old, but I know that they're cheating me, right?" she said, innocently adding, "To wave thanks to God that I'm still okay that's what I'm going to yell. God helped me thanks to God."

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