July 8, 2009
The Pied Piper of Saipan
It is time for President Obama to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Private First Class Guy Gabaldon for his heroic actions during the Battle of Saipan in the Second World War. While PFC Gabaldon died in 2006, awarding him the Medal of Honor would send a powerful, yet positive message to the rest of the world.
Guy Gabaldon was a United States Marine during WWII. He is credited with capturing over 1500 Japanese soldiers and civilians during the bloody campaign in Saipan. His accomplishment is the most by any American Soldier. He did it by risking his life to do it in a peaceful manner.
Gabaldon was born in Los Angeles where he was one of seven children in a Mexican-American family. At age 12, he moved out and lived with the Nakanos, a Japanese-American family. With the Nakanos family, Gabaldon learned the Japanese language and learned about their customs and culture.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the members of the Nakanos family were sent to a relocation camp in Arizona, while Gabaldon enlisted with the Marines after his 17th birthday.
On the island of Saipan, PFC Gabaldon brought back to two prisons on his very first night on the island. He was reprimanded by his superior officers and threatened to be court-martial for leaving his post. The following night, he went and did it again. He approached a Japanese cave, while being shot at by them, he convinced them to surrender by saying in Japanese to “come out, you will not be killed. I assure you that you will be well treated!”
PFC Gabaldon returned the following morning with 50 Japanese soldiers. As a result of this, he was allowed to operate as a “lone wolf”.
On July 7, 1944 Gabaldon convinced a captured Japanese soldier to return to a cave where thousands of Japanese soldiers were preparing for a banzai attack, and offer them a peaceful surrender. As a result, over 800 Japanese soldiers and civilians surrendered to PFC Gabaldon and were turned over to the United States authorities. Because of this, Gabaldon earned the nick name Pied-Piper of Saipan.
Gabaldon continued his exploits on Saipan until he was wounded during the battle. His commanders had recommended him for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but he was awarded the Silver Star instead. His medal was later upgraded to the Navy Cross. Efforts to award him the Medal of Honor continued as late as 1998.
One of the most important promises President Obama made during his presidential campaign was to restore the reputation of the United States to the rest of the world. One important way of doing this is award PFC Gabaldon with the Medal of Honor.
This will send a message that the United States will honor those individuals who will turn to peace, even in the most unlikely of times.