Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rusty Tanks and Living History

Emily's grandfather recently asked us if there was any evidence of WWII on Saipan. Those of us living here know that the answer to that question is a resounding HELL YES.

Just this past Friday, I was up on the Landeran Tanke trail in Marpi and found two rusted out bombs. Weapons of Mass Destruction type bombs. They were just lying next to the trail. No big deal.

Almost every beach, if not every beach, has one or more bunkers. Most of the bunkers are made from natural materials, like limestone and coral. The Japanese did this not so much because they thought that these materials would blend into their surroundings, but because by the end of WWII they were running out of concrete.

My favorite reminders of the war are the two rusted amphibious tanks sitting in the lagoon just off of Kilili Beach in Susupe. These tanks have weathered salt water, the changing of the tides, and typhoons for over 62 years, yet they are still as solid as ever. When you swim out there you can still see how the American troops welded steel plates to the sides of the tanks, something ingenious young marines are still doing in Iraq, but to their Humvees.

You can look up the Battle of Saipan on Wikipedia to learn more about these tanks and how they got here, but there is nothing like swimming out to them, touching them, and imagining what it must have been like riding into war as an 18 year old Marine away from home for the first time.

Well, you can try to imagine anyway. You'd have to have a really vivid imagination. The Saipan of today is very different from the Saipan of 1944. I don't think the marines in 1944 had time to stop and look at the pretty fish.

Today's Daily Pic


Angry Sicilian said...

I like the underwater tank pic.

Jerry said...

Amazing pictures! I wonder how long our war junk will last in the desert.

susan said...

Great pics Angelo! I want to swim with the fish and the tankers too!

jennifer Journey said...

I grew up playing on that tank in the 60's there is a dive shop on the beach by the tank ...that is the house i grew up heart is still on that beach....i would love to get those pictures you took.....

Angelo said...

Um, so right click and save them