Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pied Piper of Saipan Played His Final Note

U.S. Marine Guy Gabaldon earned the nickname, "The Pied Piper of Saipan", and a Navy Cross for single-handedly persuading more than 1,500 Japanese to surrender in 1944. More than 800 of them surrendered on one day - July 8th, 1944. His method was to approach the caves and emplacements the Japanese were in and convince them to surrender rather than commit suicide using some informal Japanese language that he learned from a foster family.

In 1990, he published his memoirs as Saipan: Suicide Island. In the book he says, "I promised that they would be treated with dignity, and that we would make sure that they were taken back to Japan after the war." The 1960 movie, Hell to Eternity, is based on his story.

Gabaldon was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but initially received the Silver Star instead. That award was later upgraded to the Navy Cross.

He succumbed to a heart attack on Thursday, August 31st, 2006. He was 80 years old.

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