John Gerber's life was passionate, patriotic
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Family and friends are mourning the sudden passing of Pacific War Museum owner John Gerber, who died this morning. And we here at KUAM pay tribute to a former colleague and a man who passionately fought for what he believed in.
A proud lifelong United States Marine, a champion for the rights of veterans, a former KUAM Radio disc jockey and museum owner (which he built from the bottom-up). Gerber being remembered by the many people he encountered over the years
"He never stopped pushing the marines for Guam," said fellow Marine Adolph Sgambelluri, saying he was shocked to hear that his longtime friend had passed on. "Guam is gonna miss him. He's quite a fighter," said the colonel. "He worked so hard for his museum."
Gerber beamed with pride when visitors would come to the Pacific War Museum in Maina. In November he told KUAM News, "The Marine celebration here is actually 365 days a year. We celebrate Liberation Day every day along with all the Marines who were killed here on Guam, so we have the museum to come back and reflect on those Marines, too."
Inside the walls of the museum, Gerber would act as the curator providing a wealth of knowledge about World War II and the Japanese occupation on Guam. His eyes lit up as he showcased various pictures and artifacts he'd collected over the years. "During the course of their existence they all had special knives made they were numbered and two of these knives were found on Guam," he explained.
Gerber may have been a retired Marine from the 3rd Marine Division Association, Guam Chapter, but he held true to the Corps' "Semper Fidelis" motto, truly being always faithful. In 2004, he fought to rename Guam's main thoroughfare to recognize the Marines who liberated Guam from the Japanese on July 21, 1944.
He embarked on a 27-mile walk from Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo to Naval Station in Santa Rita in the hopes to make a profound statement to lawmakers who at the time were debating on whether to name Route 1, Chalan Y Marines or Marine Corps Drive.
"Short of setting myself on fire...what can I do?" he said at the time, ever motivated and passionate about communicating the criticality of his message. "I can make this walk I still got one fight in me and I certainly won't drag these guys over the reef with me or take retired marines to fight a battle…they already fought their battle. This is something from the heart."
And everyone who met "JG" knew that's how he did things. Everything was always from his heart. But before he became a museum owner and before he became a passionate advocate for the military buildup and a champion of veterans rights, Gerber captivated island residents over the airwaves with his Friday night show.
A notorious disc jockey who had an ear for music, he said during KUAM's 50th Anniversary special "KUAM 50 - A Look Back", "I played whatever was popular, but I liked music. I could pick out an album and pick the hits before they even got on the charts and make them popular here before they even got out there. "
"Your master of disaster, JG, and the Wireless Rock," was his unmistakable signature goodnight ot his loyal listeners.
Although he touted himself as the Master of Disaster, many would say that Gerber's life was in fact, a true masterpiece.
Rosaries for John Gerber are being held at 7pm at the San Juan Bautista Church in Ordot nightly. Funeral arrangements are still being arranged. All of us at KUAM pass along our deepest condolences to Gerber's family.