Will the largest WWII massacre site be recognized nationally? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Will the largest WWII massacre site be recognized nationally?

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Over two weeks after Guam was liberated by American forces, the largest massacre of civilians on US soil was committed - but it began weeks earlier.

Chairman of the annual Chagui'an massacre commemoration ceremony John Blaz said, "Fifty men out of the Mannengon concentration camp were given a number." These numbers determined who would be forced to carry provisions destined for the Japanese command post. However, the men never got there.

"According to the record, five of them were released," said Blaz.

These five were the only ones who would make it out alive. The rest were discovered weeks later by marines in a truck driven by Japanese soldiers. "They found headless bodies in there, so it appeared the Japanese were in a hurry trying to hide their atrocities," he explained.

Only 200 yards from the truck, another 21 bodies were discovered at Chaguian - all decapitated, and all with hands bound behind their backs. The forty five men had all been beheaded. One of the five who had been released - Enrique Taitano Cruz - was able to identify the bodies. "They took him there on record, it's documented, with a flashlight to identify the heads, because he knew the head, the face," said Blaz.

Years later the site is recognized as a historic site here in Guam, but it is not registered with the National Register of historic places. Yigo mayor Rudy Matanane said, "Moving forward with the historical registrar and the people who are working to try to make the Chagui'an site a historical site, I kind of want to hold off on that." Matanane wants to weigh the pros and cons before relinquishing control over the area, and thinks the people in Guam should be the ones in charge, adding, "But I think it's only right that everybody involved most especially the families of the victims that are there, I think they should have a say."

"I'm going to be talking to anybody who's interested in talking about the Chagui'an massacre to help us out in the process of doing the right thing for the victims," he said.

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