|Aerial view looking down on the peninsula. No evidence remains of the Sumay Marine Detachment or the village of Sumay. |
On December 8, 1941, Japanese forces landed on Guam and defeated a relatively small and poorly equipped ground force consisting of U. S. Marines and sailors and natives of Guam serving in the Navy Insular Guard. As the Spaniards and the Americans did before them, the Japanese also fortified the hills behind Sumay primarily with anti-aircraft guns. Those guns were fired but did not prevent U.S. aircraft from attaining an overwhelming victory in the famous air battle popularly known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot which severely crippled Japanese aviation in the Pacific.
Caught in the middle of all this was the town of Sumay, a beautiful and peaceful town whose 2000 residents were intensely proud of their village. In addition to its fertile soil, the town enjoyed a bountiful catch from the deep sea fronting it. It was a village first in touch with the world beyond Guam. The Trans-Pacific Cable Company anchored its station at Sumay; Pan American Airways landed its China Clipper at Sumay in 1935 and built Guam's first hotel there. The most prominent tenants of the village, however, were the U. S. Navy and Marines with whom the villagers had an excellent relationship. There were many reasons for local pride.
Sadly, Sumay became a victim of its own popularity. When the Japanese occupied Guam, they took over the village and used it themselves. During the battle for the recapture of Guam, Sumay was totally destroyed. When the U.S. forces returned, they took over the land where the village was located as well as surrounding areas.