I just got back from a two-week Chief Warrant Officer professional development course at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. While there, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with some very good friends.
Dave, NN1N, arranged the get together. Fortunately Randy, K5ZD/1 offered up his QTH as a meeting point. It was a great opportunity to see some old friends, plus to see the NN1N and K5ZD QTHs for the first time. Too bad there was too much snow to walk around to see the towers.
Thanks to NN1N for setting up the dinner, and to K5ZD for hosting us. Also thanks to K1EA, KM3T, K1AR, and K1DG for showing up! I have not seen most of these guys since WRTC 2006 in Brazil, and it was an enjoyable break from two weeks of class.
I recently explored a World War Two remnant located on Hilaan Point on the northwest coast of Guam. This site holds a Japanese AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) position, with several gun pits remaining. The fortifications mostly consist of drums filled with limestone rock, stacked on top of each other with additional rocks piled up to form a defensive position. It is very difficult to see anything as you can see in this 360 degree panoramic shot, taken from atop one of the berms:
(warning – large photo!)
You really have to look close to see anything in the grass. In this photo, there appears to be nothing. But, if you look closely, you will see that the ferns in the center of the photo fill up a depression in the ground which is in fact one of the positions.
Look even closer, and you can see two barrels filled with rock on either side of the original entrance into the position.
I was able to find four such positions. Other than the drums and berms themselves, nothing else appears to remain. With the high grass and overgrowth, it would take a grass fire or typhoon to knock back the vegetation enough to see exactly what remains.
I have been able to find almost no information on the site. What type of AAA guns were located here? Was the site attacked by American aircraft or ships before or during the retaking of the island in 1944? Did any land battles take place here as the 3rd Marines moved north to secure the island? unfortunately, I have not been able to answer any of these questions yet. [December 2020 update: There appears to have been a Japanese airstrip under construction just northeast of these defensive positions, at the time of the US landings in June 1944]
I did find a photo of a similar Japanese AAA site taken in October 1944, located on Orote Point further south. This gives an idea of what this site would have looked like then, as both seem to have been similarly constructed.
When stomping around the jungles of Guam, you need to watch out for these guys:
I believe these spiders all come from the argiope appensa family:
More commonly called garden spiders, these things weave huge webs and grow quite large, often with a body that is larger than an inch (three inches including legs). They are completely harmless, however the big ones still startle me, especially when I walk into a web by accident. The other day, I rode my mountain bike into a huge web by accident. While trying to get the strands out of my face, I saw one of these guys, a big one, crawling on my handlebars toward my left hand. I bailed off the bike quickly!
Supposedly, they are all over Guam because the local bird population, their primary predator, has been decimated by the brown tree snake.