Cave exploring

I had a chance to go exploring one of the many caves located on the south side of Nimitz Hill, formerly known as Fonte during the pre-war days. They are off the beaten path, but not hard to find if you know where to look for them. There are many caves in total, but most are small. These caves were used extensively by the Japanese during their defense of Guam following the American landings on July 21, 1944. The northern landing beach was directly below Fonte, and the Japanese had a commanding advantage being on the hilltop and were able to hold back the American advance in this sector for several days. These caves were key to there defense because they provided shelter from both naval bombardment and aerial attacks.

There is a cave located on the east side of Nimitz Hill, just along the road which is a National Park Service site. Originally, this site was said to be the command post of the Japanese army commander, General Takashina. In actuality, this cave was used as a communications station by the Japanese, and it is my belief that the caves, being on the exposed hilltop, would have been too exposed to be used as a HQ position. Any way, these caves were upgraded as fallout shelters in the post-war years for civil defense so they do not even look as they did during the war.

It is quite likely that one of the caves to the south of Nimitz Hill was used as the HQ of General Takashina. Even if they were not, they were absolutely used as shelters by Japanese troops. After five days of heavy fighting, the Marines had barely advanced up the sides of Fonte (Nimitz) Hill. Takashina believed that they were worn out and low on supplies. His plan, executed on the 5th night of the battle, was to amass six battalions (upwards of 5000 or more troops) to directly assault the Marine positions and hopefully push them back into the ocean. The attack was a frenzied one, but ultimately failed with many hundreds of attacking Japanese killed. This effectively turned the tide in the battle, and the Marines were able to capture the high ground the next day. Takashina himself was killed while trying to reposition his remaining troops in Northern Guam with plans to resist as long as possible from the jungle.

Justin stands at the mouth of the largest cave
Looking up after climbing down into the cave, to give the perspective of how large it is.
There are shards of glass everywhere in the cave. The brown pieces are from beer bottles, the light blue/green from sake bottles. American troops recall hearing Japanese forces singing and yelling in a drunken stupor before their attack
Deeper yet, there are lots of bits of decaying debris, like this ration tin and pieces from a leather boot.
In the far back corner, we found this Japanese army gas mask (heavily decayed) along with medicine ampules. The round blue/green piece of glass is from a sake bottle.
Looking up at the mouth of the cave from inside
more bits; a neck of a sake bottle, a light bulb, and a piece of leather from an equipment pouch
Justin is happy after a fun time exploring
In this depression surrounded by small caves, there are drums still catching rain water. It is easy to imagine the soldiers coming out of the caves during lulls in the bombing to get some fresh air
This is a very pretty area of the jungle

Oceania DX contests

I operated in both the SSB and CW Oceania DX Contests over the past two weekends, as a shakedown to see how I feel and how the new location works. As expected, I felt much better during the CW weekend than SSB, because it’s my favorite mode and uses less effort (for me) than operating phone. The station seems to really work well also – I believe it is ready for the CQWW DX SSB contest later this month.

My scores in the OCDX contest should be enough to win the SOAB category both weekends, and I was able to break my 2010 record by quite a bit during the CW event.

Oceania DX Contest, Phone
Band QSOs Mults
160: 4 4
80: 38 32
40: 175 125
20: 356 236
15: 826 435
10: 418 270
Total: 1817 1102 Total Score = 5,065,894

Oceania DX Contest, CW

Band QSOs Mults
160: 25 22
80: 315 206
40: 346 241
20: 309 219
15: 646 369
10: 550 314
Total: 2191 1371 Total Score = 11,833,101

New QTH antennas all complete

It took about two months, but I have finally completed all the work installing antennas at my new location. The Spiderbeam went up pretty easily, but the vertical took quite a bit of time to get it to work on 40/80/160, and the Beverages took the longest time, because I had to clear paths through thick jungle.

I got to shake down the station during the Oceania DX SSB contest last weekend. I made just over 1800 QSOs in 17 hours of operating. The location seems to be a winner.

Arrows point NW (Europe and Asia) and NE (North America) from my house. The takeoff toward Europe especially is fantastic. The house is at 560ft ASL.
The arrows show the direction and location of three Beverages I installed. 800ft for NA, 750ft for EU, and 500ft due south for Australia and New Zealand.
The receive antennas are switched remotely from here, with 12 VDC injected in the feed line. This is at the end of a 1000ft run of coax from the house. From here it is about 300ft more to each of the three antenna feed points. There is still plenty of signal so no preamp is needed.

The EU/AS Beverage terminates in an area filled with bamboo. Hopefully the Asian influence helps with receiving in this direction!
I really could have used a flame thrower to make a path through some of the thicker areas. The vines are incredibly difficult to get through – very strong and hourly progress is marked in feet.
The end of my European/Asian receive antenna has a nice view (looking northwest).
Here is the feed point of my low band vertical. The big coil provides loading for 160m. The smaller copper coil is for fine tuning resonance within 160m. The smaller aluminum coil is to match the antenna on 80 and 40m. Band switching can be accomplished remotely through the three vacuum relays.
My transmit antennas are all located at the edge of a 40ft drop-off. 40/80/160m top loaded vertical to the right, Spiderbeam and 6el 6m beam to the left.
Looking south at the house from a rock pillar on the other side of the road.
Looking southwest from the same point toward Orote Point and the Commercial Port showing the dramatic drop offs toward the ocean. The 3rd Marine Division had to fight up these cliffs during the Liberation of Guam. There are shell casings and bullets all over the area (this is NPS property).
Looking northwest from the same location, showing more of the cliff face and drop off.