Discovery of Japanese Remains
Perhaps my most exciting discovery was finding
the remains of several Japanese soldiers inside a gun cave. The entrance
was very concealed and only by chance did I find it. A 70mm Bn. gun
was inside although completely blown-up. In 1999 a team of Japanese,
lead by Mrs. Iwanami Tojo (a granddaughter of Prime Minister Hideki Tojo) visited
the cave with us and had a small ceremony honoring the deceased soldiers.
A very moving experience!
What was it like to meet Lt. Ei Yamaguchi in
Speaking of Japanese, in 1994, during the 50th
anniversary return to the island, several Marine veterans asked
me to take them the last hideout cave of Lt. Yamaguchi's located near
the beach. Today a sign is posted near a road about 100 meters or
so from his cave. We started trudging through the mangrove swamps
and found it.
I crawled inside and noticed U.S. gear and supplies
scattered inside! I figured the Japanese stole the supplies after
the battle. Just as I popped my head out of the cave to was show
the vets a U.S. hand grenade that I had found, an entourage of people
appeared out of nowhere. It was NBC Dateline camera crews filming
Lt. Yamaguchi returning to his hideout along with a few other Japanese
vets! Our timing was incredible! One of the camera men asked me
to exit the cave so that he could film Yamaguchi's return inside.
Without hesitation, I crawled out and photographed the once-in-a-lifetime
event. This did not go well with my veteran friends who told me
to throw the hand grenade that I was clutching back into the hole
after Lt. Yamaguchi crawled in! Somehow I don't think that would have
went well for U.S. and Japanese relationships! It's interesting
how some of the American vets still harbor hatred for the Japanese.
I did talk with Lt. Yamaguchi via an interpreter while
on Peleliu. Last year Col. Joe Alexander and I interviewed him via
a professional translator and had his diary translated. In addition,
I have accumulated some great archival photos taken during Yamaguchi's
surrender to the Island Command in 1947.