Tag Archives: Battle of Saipan

Lone U.S. vet at 75th anniversary of Saipan invasion

In a recent email, Marie Castro informed me that the 75th anniversary ceremonies for the Battle of Saipan, which liberated the native Chamorros from decades of Japanese oppression, would be attended by a single American veteran of the Saipan invasion.  (Boldface mine throughout.)

In a July 4 story in Saipan’s Marianas Variety, Junhan B. Todiño wrote that Saipan David M. Mayor Apatang announced that as part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battles of Saipan and Tinian, the Liberation Day Committee named Burke Waldron, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, as the honorary grand marshal.  On July 5, in Todiño’s follow-up story,A great turnout and an emotional presentation,Todiño wrote:

Another highlight of this year’s celebration was the presence of Burke Waldron, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who was selected as the honorary grand marshal.  He served in the Naval Ground Force of the Pacific and was part of the invasions of Makin Islands in Kiribati and Saipan.  He retired in 1946 as a petty officer, second class.

A few months earlier, on April 24, Marianas Variety writer Lori Lyn C. Lirio announced Waldron’s plans to attend the 75th anniversary festivities and offered readers a bit more about Waldron’s personal history:

Burke Waldron, a World War II veteran who will be 95 in May, will participate in the island’s annual Liberation Day celebration [July 4].

Waldron served in the Naval Ground Force of the Pacific and was part of the invasions of Makin islands in Kiribati and Saipan.  He retired in 1946 as a petty officer, 2nd class. . . . Waldron said his unit’s job on Saipan was to handle visual communications from the Island Commander to ships standing by for instructions for the troops’ needs of various supports such as personnel, armament, fuel, equipment etc.

Burke Waldron, in 1945 and 2017, a Navy petty officer who, in 2019, was the only American veteran of the Battle of Saipan to return to the scene of the great U.S. victory that launched our victory over Japan in the Pacific War. 

He said theyused flashing light (Morse code) and semaphore method to transmit encoded messages. At first we had temporary facilities but soon the Navy Seabees rebuilt the light house . . . for our base of operation. We served in this capacity till the end of 1945 when I was shipped stateside and honorably discharged.

He added, Over the years I have said to myself it would be a great experience to return to Saipan and maybe meet some of the survivors or their descendants. By means of this GoFundMe Campaign I may be able to do just that for otherwise it would not be possible. . . . I would be most grateful for your help to reach the goal of my new campaign for my trip back to Saipan after 74 years.

To read the complete story, see WWII veteran to join Liberation Day celebration.”

I met Mr. Waldron at our meeting the other day at the Mayor’s office, Marie wrote in a July 3 email.  I just mentioned that it was an honor to meet him.  I was 11 years old hiding in the cave when the Americans were bombing into the Island.  Thanks, America for liberating us in 1944.

Upon seeing Marie Castro’s email, I immediately recalled my friend Jim Golden, who in 2009 at age 83 was one of just five veterans who attended ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of the invasion of Saipan.  In my March 2, 2015 post, Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga,” I wrote:

In mid-June 2009, Golden was, incredibly, one of only five American veterans of the Battle of Saipan who returned to the island for ceremonies commemorating its 65th anniversary — events completely overlooked by an American media focused solely on the June 6 D-Day observances in Normandy, France. 

At a campfire held for the ex-servicemen on June 18, Golden and the others shared their Saipan memories with local officials, historians, and students.  Golden, who didn’t bother to keep any record of the attendees’ names, challenged the skeptics’ claims that no documentation exists to support Earhart’s prewar presence on Saipan, citing Goerner’s work, the native eyewitnesses on Saipan and the Marshalls, and his own experience with Marine Intelligence on Kwajalein in early 1944.  His moving speech brought a standing ovation from most in attendance.  I found it so very moving and appropriate that, more than anyone, Golden was the face and voice of the forgotten Saipan veteran 65 years after the key U.S. victory of the Pacific war.

To read much more about this great American, who was once the head of security for Howard Hughes, a secret service agent assigned to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, headed the detail assigned to Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and worked closely with Fred Goerner in search of the top-secret Earhart files, among other distinctions, please click here.

Jim Golden, Washington, D.C., circa 1975. As a highly placed U.S. Justice Department official, Golden joined Fred Goerner in the newsman’s unsuccessful search for the elusive, top-secret files that would finally break open the Earhart case. During his amazing career, Golden led Vice President Richard M. Nixon’s Secret Service detail and directed the personal security of Howard Hughes in Las Vegas.

To the few who pay attention to such things, the media’s treatment of these monumental World War II events continues to remind us of the wicked and brutally biased politics that influence everything that we see, hear and read daily, and most emphatically attends the media’s mendacious treatment of all World War II events.  Every summer, everything is Normandy and D-Day, everywhere you look.  Nowhere do you see any mention of Saipan; if you didn’t know better around this time of year, you’d think the Pacific War never happened.

Thus Normandy and D-Day are just about all that most Americans know about World War II, thanks to films like Saving Private Ryan, the many other war movies that preceeded it and the endless vilification of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  Please don’t misunderstand, I know that Hitler was evil incarnate, and his Nazis demonic, but we don’t need to be reminded of it every minute of every day on our cable TV news and movies.  They were all sent to their just rewards long ago. 

And not to take anything away from the brave Americans, Canadians, Brits and other Allies who fought and died in the largest amphibious operation in history, but it’s a little-known fact that more Americans died on Saipan during the June 15-July 9, 1944 battle to take the island from the Japanese than died taking the beaches at Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

Do you doubt it? Here’s Wikipedia’s Battle of Saipan entry:For the Americans, the victory was the most costly to date in the Pacific War: Out of 71,000 who landed, 2,949 were killed and 10,464 wounded.  Compare that to the Normandy landings, about which Wikipedia tells us, Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year — neglecting to specify the number of American dead.

But the Warfare History Network tells us that the “First U.S. Army, accounting for the first twenty-four hours in Normandy, tabulated 1,465 killed, 1,928 missing, and 6,603 wounded.  The after-action report of U.S. VII Corps (ending 1 July) showed 22,119 casualties including 2,811 killed, 5,665 missing, 79 prisoners, and 13,564 wounded, including paratroopers.”

Nowhere in our mainstream Drive-Bymedia, as the faux conservative windbag Rush Limbaugh likes to call it, do we ever see or hear any mention of this fact about the bloodbath that was Saipan and all the other tropical island death pits in the Pacific War, which by comparison overwhelmed U.S. European casualties.  Limbaugh himself has never dared reveal the truth about Japan’s war crimes, let alone whisper about Amelia Earhart, nor have any of the other well-known talk show hosts who so falsely sell themselves as truth tellers.

Attendant to this phenomenon is the U.S. establishment’s longstanding policy of suppressing the record of Japan’s wartime atrocities, which Australian historian and author Gavan Daws, who spent ten years interviewing hundreds of survivors of Japanese POW camps, capturing their stories in Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific (1994), certainly did not.

Gavan Daws’ 1994 exposé of the countless atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese military before and during World War II is another book that’s been ignored and suppressed by our national media. Its revelations are chilling.

In Prisoners  of the Japanese, Daws recited a gruesome litany of torment and death that continues to shock all but the most fanatic of Japan’s remaining wartime apologists.  In opening his grim narrative, Daws tried to capture the vast scope of Japan’s savagery against its imprisoned enemies:

They sacrificed prisoners in medical experiments. They watched them die by the tens of thousands from diseases of malnutrition like beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy, and from epidemic tropical diseases: malaria, dysentery, tropical ulcers, cholera. Those who survived could only look ahead to being worked to death. If the war had lasted another year, there would not have been a POW left alive.

The cold statistics reflect the desperate plight of POWs in Japanese captivity.   Thirty-four percent of Americans, 33 percent of Australians, and 32 percent of British POWs in the Pacific theater died in Japanese hands, while the Allied death rate in Nazi POW camps was just 4 percent.  “The undeniable, incontrovertibly documented record of brutality, disease, and death in the POW camps,” Daws wrote, “plus what happened in the civilian internment camps for white men, women, and children, and the massacres and atrocities perpetrated on native Asian people in occupied territory—all this shows the national tribe of Japan at its worst as a power in the world.  That worst was humanly dreadful, a terrible chapter in the world’s twentieth-century book of the dead.”

Following the surrender of Bataan in April 1942, about 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers were force-marched, without food or water, for seventy-five of the one hundred miles from the Bataan Peninsula north to Camp O’Donnell in central Luzon.  The infamous Bataan death march was the worst single atrocity against American POWs in history. Starving men were beheaded or bayoneted at such a rate that one dead body was left every fifteen yards for a hundred miles, “every death a Japanese atrocity,” Daws wrote 

For more of the appalling, grisly history that Daws dug up and exposed in Prisoners of the Japanese, see the section titled “Japan’s War Crimes,” pages 286-289 in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

How do we account for the media’s aversion to Saipan and the complete panoply of Japanese wartime atrocities, including the Rape of Nanking (December 13, 1937 to January 1938), where yet unknown hundreds of thousands of Chinese men, woman and children were butchered by the Japanese military?  Why are these monstrous war crimes always glossed over or forgotten by ouresteemed media gatekeepers?

One major factor, of course, is the liberal establishment’s collective guilt over the two atom bombs President Harry Truman delivered to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 that saved up to a million Americans — and incalculable Japanese civilian lives that would have been lost in defense of their homeland — and helped put a much quicker and merciful end to the war for all concerned, a guilt that our media amplifies at every turn.

But quite another reason lies at the root of our World War II-Japan problem, an infinitely more subtle, virtually unknown factor, which remains as real and tangible as the countless deaths the Japanese war machine inflicted.  Appearing in July 1968 before a Republican subcommittee chaired by Kentucky Governor Louie Broady Nunn, Fred Goerner spelled out the problems in the Earhart case in a brief, four-page presentation he called “Crisis in Credibility—Truth in Government.”

“[W]hen the full truth regarding Earhart and Noonan is known,” Goerner told the lawmakers in his conclusion, “a new view of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the years before Pearl Harbor will emerge. Should that be classified because cause of ‘national security’?  I believe not.”   (For more on Goerner’s Miami appeal, see pages 273-276 in Truth at Last.)  Goerner’s impassioned plea is another lost chapter in the Earhart saga, suppressed from the moment it happened, never to be acknowledged by the American press.

Thus the protection of FDR’s already shaky legacy — in addition, of course, to protecting our good friends and allies, the Japanese — is still the overweening motivation and raison d’être for everything our deceitful media does and does not do regarding Amelia Earhart — including its policies in dealing with the Pacific War.  Make no mistake: the insidious influence of FDR’s abandonment of Earhart and Noonan on Saipan continues to reverberate in our time, like the ripples of a large stone thrown into a tranquil pond.  Imagine, for example, the impossibility of rewriting or destroying 82 years of history books.

Marie S. Castro holds a copy of her book, Without a Penny in My Pocket, as she as speaks to Saipan Rotarians in February 2018 about her intimate knowledge of Earhart’s detention and death on Saipan. (Photo by Junghan B. Todino, for Marianas Variety.)

In a July 4 email to me (July 5 on Saipan), Marie Castro recalled an occasion in 2015 when she was moved by the spirit of freedom so exemplified by some of our finest World War II heroes:

Thanks for acknowledging Burke Waldron. I consider those Marines heroes who fought in the invasion of Saipan. Burke Waldron indeed maintains the spirit of valor and courage I believe till he dies.

In 2015, five WWII veterans perhaps for the last time wanted to revisit Saipan, Tinian and Japan. They were invited including myself to join a group of college students from Ozarks, Missouri who were studying WWII in the PacificA 92-year-old vet in a wheelchair who was on Tinian and helped with the launching of the atomic bomb was in the group, bless his heart.

When we got to Guam, we heard the news that Typhoon Soudelor [July 29-Aug. 13, hitting Saipan directly on Aug. 2] was heading directly to Saipan.  All the flights to Saipan and Tinian were cancelled. You could imagine the disappointment of the group especially for the 92 year old vet.

That evening,  after dinner we sat for an entertainment in the hotel.  Feeling so bad about the Typhoon news, I asked the 92 year old, Sir, What is your favorite song. He looked at me saying,How Great Thou Art.

I went up to the entertainer and requested the song in honor of the vet.  The entertainer asked me to join her sing the song How Great Thou Art. I forgot about myself and my shyness, just to console the veteran, so I joined in.

I feel like part of the family of WWII Vets.  I was affected so much by the war and considering the sacrifices of those marines, I forget myself to console them. 

Happy 75th Liberation Day, Saipan, and Happy 243rd Birthday, U.S.A.
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