SANTA RITA, Guam -- More than 200 Guam residents and military service members gathered at the Fena Cave Memorial July 20, to pay their respects to those who were killed at the cave during World War II. The Fena Cave is located on what is now U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) Ordnance Annex in Santa Rita.
“It’s the perfect time to remember the anniversary of the liberation of Guam - one to look back and understand the turmoil that happened throughout the world but definitely here on Guam,” said NBG Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Grimes. “To look back is always something we must do, but I think it also for us in uniform reminds us that we’re here to fight for peace, so that we never have to fight in war.”
In recent years, the NBG commanding officer in conjunction with the Agat Mayor’s Office invites the families of the victims to reflect and honor those who were killed in the massacre.
On July 19, 1944, just two days before the liberation of Guam, more than 30 young men and women from the villages of Agat and Sumay would be massacred at the Fena Cave in what was Agat village at the time.
The young men and women were held under strict working conditions and were forced to stay behind while their parents were sent to the concentration camp in the Mannengon Valley.
About 50 of them were rounded up to go to the caves that day. Some of the young men were given Japanese alcohol as a “reward” for their tedious work, but it wasn’t long before enemy soldiers would kill them with grenades, machine guns, and bayonets. Some of them would survive by hiding themselves under the lifeless bodies and pretending to be dead.
Vicente Topasna Borja’s uncle and namesake Vicente Munoz Borja was one of the young men killed on that fateful day at Fena.
“They were selected to go up there to do forced labor and they were moving ammunition around and right before the Americans had landed, the Japanese were doing a lot of atrocities - killing the Chamorro civilians,” said Vicente Topasna Borja. “It was very emotional for me and like I said I was named after him and it just touched my heart to go up there - this is my second time to the cave and my first time here for this ceremony but I do plan to come every year from now on.”
This year, Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 constructed a new elevated wooden walk way leading up to the path. Grimes planned and worked the project out with Agat Mayor Kevin Susuico.
“We finally realized that goal together and the platform was definitely there for safety and at the same time it was a great show of respect for the monument of the Fena Cave,” Grimes said.