70 years ago – The Road to Sumay

When J.B. wrote these missives, he was 59 years old and part of the U.S. Marine invasion force to retake Guam and determine friend from foe. These are his exact words although I have corrected some spellings and any additions/clarifications I have added will be italicized.

Though dated the 29th of July 1944, events of the 30th prevented JB from writing. Thus I present this second missive from the 29th here.

29th 5:30 PM

My own sweetheart –

Just got back from a trip as far as the cemetery. Couldn’t go any further as that is the front line. I have yet to see a single house standing. Native huts, everything gone, both sides of the road lined with dead Japs. Saw another bunch of Charmorrans in a camp near Asau. One woman said “Oh Missur Cooke, he come one then he come again then I think dead, now he come again”. The ever faithful Quenga said, “He come back because you are in trouble”. Bill Edward’s house has only posts standing. I saw one flame tree flaming in all its glory. It was still too hot to get to the cable station but there still isn’t a building standing in Sumay.

I found too, dead marines that had been missed. As I went along the line here comes the tanks and many troops. Everybody laughing and talking, going into battle with a smile. Jeeps and trucks coming back with the wounded. Everybody seems to take everything in stride. Saw little Juan’s brothers he said Juan is dead. Tried to find Timitato. His house is completely gone. Ran across a cave – a dead woman (Jap) lay in the entrance. Inside was a dressing table with cosmetics and what-nots. This was on a hill back of Tenjo. The general’s lady, maybe.

There’s a cliff behind the beach (called Datta Beach). Japs had hidden guns in there. Col. Artillery has put a few placed shots in vital spots. We counted 60 dead Japs there are 40 of whom committed ritual suicide. They are sneaks, fanatics – not smart and not brave as we understand the term. The only ones that aren’t fanatics are the ones that surrender.

The International Newsman interviewed me yesterday. Then last night Trembull of N.Y. Times had a long talk. Every time I have been at or near the front line, I have seen the newspaper boys. What a gang. I mean to write Mort Donohue and other friends about these fellows. They dig in everywhere, to get the dope to the folks at home. They seem to scorn all personal danger. We have 35 correspondents with us. As you know I am still with the Assault forces, Gen. Gieger. The way things look now I will report back to Gen. Larson pretty soon. I went out with him and pointed out certain terrain.

Must stop now my angel. Pass what I write along for what it is worth. I want you to especially keep John and his family informed. I would like to write more letters but haven’t the time. I love you with my heart and soul. My faith is in you and the faith you have in me keeps me going.

Your devoted Daddy

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