In the summer of 1944, U.S. military forces took part in one of a series of key military battles aimed at defeating Japan, and winning World War II.
U.S. forces invaded the Japanese held island of Guam. It’s a story we might see today on the History Channel. But, for a 95 year old Ventura County man, it’s a memory.
He was there, and still has the scars to prove it. Maury McGuire was just 18 years old on December 7th, 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and plunged the United States into World War II.
He was living in Detroit, and after getting out of high school in 1942 he and his buddies decided to enlist. They ended up as naval aviators, but after he was rejected because of a dental issue, he joined the Marines. After going through basic training, he was assigned to I Company, Third Battalion, 9th Regiment, of the Third Marine Division. They were shipped to New Zealand, and then the island of Guadacanal for final training before seeing combat for the first time.
It was the invasion of the Japanese held Island of Bouganville. While casualties were light, the Camarillo man admits being in combat for the first time was scary. He suffered a back injury, but not enough to keep him out of combat. After more training, his unit was given a tougher task.
In 1941, right after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese forces overwhelmed the small U.S. garrison on the island of Guam. So, on July 21st, 1944, an armada of U.S. ships, including one carrying McGuire, was sent to retake the island. He didn’t even make it through a full day on the island before he was wounded. He was taking cover in a bomb crater when he was hit in the arm, and wounded, and a buddy just behind him was killed.
Between his back injury and arm wound, the war was over for McGuire. He says that wound probably saved his life, because while he was in hospitals for months, many members of his unit died in their next battle on Iwo Jima. He said what was almost harder than combat was visiting the families of two of his buddies killed in Guam, and sharing the stories of how they died.
McGuire says survivors of his unit stuck together like glue after the war. But, time has caught up with them, and out of three hundred men, you can count those still alive on one hand. He says there are only three men out of more than 300 still alive today.
McGuire got married after returning home. He and his wife had six kids, which led to 14 grandkids, and 14 great-grandkids. He had a long career in the auto, and aerospace industries before retiring to Ventura County.
He says even though he still has scars from the war, he is proud of his service. McGuire says if called, he would put his life on the line again for his country.