The American Legion Mid-Pacific Post 1 has a proud history dating back to 1930. The Post is believed to be the oldest American Legion post in the Pacific. Throughout U.S. history, the territory of Guam has given many sons to the Defense of the United States. The American Legion Mid-Pacific Post 1 honors these as well as all other US military veterans.
|US Navy Government on Guam before WWII|
The island of Guam was ceded by Spain to the United Stated by the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish American War and 230 years of Spanish colonization. Except for the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1941 through 1944, Guam was governed by US Navy administrators until a civilian Guam Government was established by the U.S. Congress with the Organic Act of 1951. Today, Guam is a metropolitan community inhabited by native Chamorros, Filipinos, mainland U.S. transplants, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Australians and Europeans and a significant population of active duty U.S. Military and military veterans. For further reading, recommend “Guam’s US Naval Era Historical Overview” at Guampedia.com.
Documentation of Post history is scarce. Most of the original post documents were captured and destroyed or claimed as souvenirs by Japanese occupiers during World War II. However, available documentation show that The American Legion Guam post has survived in active or inactive status from its birth in 1930 to include occupation by Japanese forces during World Wide II. The following history was developed from the few surviving documents, newspaper articles, correspondence between Mid Pac Post 1 and American Legion National Headquarters and applications for Post Charters.
Birth of Mid-Pacific Post 1 (1930). Mid Pacific Post 1 was established on August 26, 1930. The official charter can not be located; however the application to establish the post (1) lists J. A. McCormack as the Post Commander and 17 charter members consisting of local veterans and active duty members of the U.S. Navy government of Guam. The September 1930 issue of the Guam Recorder (2) reports on the first public function of Post 1, held on 28 August 1930 and attended by numerous island dignitaries including an address by the Territorial Governor, and lists the following officers:
|Commander: J. A. McCormack||Finance Officer: F. T. Flores|
|Vice Commander: H. W. Elliott||Historian: J. S. Aflague|
|Adjutant: Jose Rosario||Sergeant at Arms: Otto Cox|
In a subsequent 13 November 1931 election of officers, the above incumbents were all re-elected as was a new Chaplain Rev. Francis Lee Albert and the Executive Committee at Large members Willis W. Bradley, Jr., Vicente Rosario and Daryl Wigle. In a letter of 26 January 1938 (3), Commander M. Scambelluri reported to the American Legion National Commander election of the following officers:
|Commander: M. Scambelluri||Adjutant: J. S. Aflague|
|Senior Vice Commander: V. Rosario||Finance Officer: V. Manglona|
|Junior Vice Commander: V. Munoz||Historian: P. Sanchez|
|Chaplain: E. M. Garrido||Sergeant at Arms: J. Perez|
|Life on Guam was brutal under Japanese occupation.|
The Japanese Occupation, December 1941 through August 1944. Just hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (December 8th on Guam), the Japanese invaded Guam. The U.S. Naval Governor surrendered Guam to the Japanese on December 10th. The Japanese occupation was brutal on the local populace and membership in the Legion was exceptionally precarious. As noted in a 1945 article in the Indianapolis (Indiana) News, every precaution was taken to hide membership. Known or suspected Legionnaires were under constant surveillance, often arrested and seven were accused of being spies and beheaded. The Japanese either destroyed, or kept for souvenirs all Post records, flags, uniforms, caps and other paraphernalia they could find which explains the lack of documentation of early Post history.
|Asan Park – Main landing site for US Invasion in July 1944.|
|Liberation Day Parade
July 21, 2013
Guam Liberation and Post Reactivation. During the early hours of July 21, 1944, the U.S. 77th Army Division, 3rd Marine Division and 1st Provisional Marine Division, landed at Asan, just South of present day Hagatna, and Agat, just South of present day Naval Station. Although the Japanese refused to surrender, a few holdouts remained hidden in the Guam jungles for years, the Americans regained control of Guam on August 10, 1944. Today, July 21st, Guam Liberation Day, is a major public holiday complete with parades honoring veterans of this and other conflicts.
A 1945 article appearing in the Indianapolis News reported that Mid Pacific Post 1 was reactivated with 51 members (Post 1 had over 100 members before the war) and that, for the first time, had a unit of the American Legion Auxiliary. Below officers were installed:
|Commander: W. T. Raplee||Chaplain: Ignacio T. Barcinas|
|Vice Commander: Enrique M. Garrido||Adjutant: Jose C. Cruz|
|President of the Legion Auxiliary:
Mrs. Consolacion C. Siguenza
In May 1945 an Application for Permanent Charter was submitted under cover letter from Vice Commander E, Garrido. The application lists Post officers as:
|Commander: W. T. Raplee||Historian: Pablo Sanchez|
|Adjutant: J. C. Cruz||Service Officer: Juan S. Aflague|
|Treasurer: Ben Guerrero|
The Missing Years (1946 through 1982). Records for this period have not been located to date. It is possible that the Post became inactive because the Charter was cancelled on 10 September 1961. Any information or documents that would reflect or help us fill in the Post history would be greatly appreciated. Contact the Post or speak to any officer at the Post.
Post Resurrection (1982). By 1982, two VFW Posts were thriving on Guam. Several veterans got together to explore the activation of a veterans organization honorably discharged veterans who were not eligible to be members of the VFW. Most prominent among these veterans was Bobby Cobb who contacted the Department of Alaska and set the process in motion to reactivate the post as American Legion Post 53 on under Department of Alaska, with 63 Charter Members and the following officers:
|Commander: Bobby Cobb||Sergeant at Arms: Clyde P. Barnes|
|First Vice Commander: Verne I. Harper||Historian: Ercil D. Cook|
|Second Vice Commander: Glenn A. Harkless||Public Relations Officer: Clyde A. Benge|
|Adjutant: David R. Runyon||Chaplain: Frank C. Christensen|
|Judge Advocate: Mitchell P. Golden|
|Post home in Tamuning, Guam|
|For God and Country|
Mid-Pacific Post 1 Today. In 1995 the Post requested and was granted authority to revert to its original designation as Mid-Pacific Post 1. Since re-activation as Mid Pacific Post 1, the Post has occupied several homes until purchasing and relocating to its current home in Tamuning. The Post is active in community services and conducts an awards program for JROTC units at four island high schools. It conducts an annual flag retirement ceremony on 14 June and participates in memorial activities in conjunction with other veterans organizations. The Post operates a canteen for members and guests and holds monthly membership meetings on the 1st Saturday of every month at 10:00AM at the Post home.
(1) Application for American Legion Post, dated 17 July 1930.
(2) Article “American Legion Mid-Pacific Post 1 Hold First Public Function:, The Guam Recorder, Vol VII, Number VI, September 1930, Pages 107, 118 and 119.
(3) Letter, dated 26 January 1938, from M. Sgambelluri, Commander Mid-Pacific Post 1, to the National Commander, American Legion.
(4) Article “Legion Post Reactivated by Plucky Guamese”, Indianapolis News, August 1945
(5) Letter, dated May 31, 1945, from Enrique M. Garrido, Commander, Mid Pacific Post 1, to Henry M. Dudly, Assistant National Adjutant, American Legion Headquarters.