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Johnny Exodice
Johnny Exodice - 170 Views
Published on 21 Jun 2020 / In Film and Animation


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Made in 1944 and released in 1945, ‘Return to Guam’ is a WWII propaganda film that tells the story of George Ray Tweed. Tweed was a decorated radioman of the US Navy who evaded capture by the Japanese for two years and seven months after the surrender of the U.S. garrison in Guam in 1941. The film is presented by the US Navy and combat action scenes were filmed by the Marine Corps and Navy photographers (:27). It opens with a map pointing to Guam’s location (:27) and the shelling of Japanese installations off the island which are interrupted by a message in Morse code (:45). The men aboard the ship decode the message and pick up George Tweed (1:54). He was the only survivor of the Navy garrison that had been installed prior to Japanese invasion (2:12). He had taken to the jungle after the invasion and survived by changing locations daily and even hourly at times (2:17). Tweed was impressed of the size and capabilities of the Navy and shots of the Destroyer (2:43) and 14-inch shells aboard are shown (3:21). Footage follows of what daily life had been like prior to Japanese invasion (4:10) including the schooling that was offered to islanders (4:27), as well as the self-government classes for older students (4:43), and the troops from Guam’s own militia marching (5:15). Japan invaded in December of 1941 (5:52) and footage follows of bombs exploding outside Pan American Airways System (6:18) terminal building as well as a few newspaper headlines telling of the attack (6:21). During the following months, fleets were built up (7:07) and new aircraft was constructed (7:23) to prepare for the attack which would begin at Guadalcanal. Gunfire from warships is shown as Saipan was conquered (8:16). Footage of the actual landing on the beach follows (9:18). Afterwards, the task of ‘mopping up’ is depicted which includes hunting out the remaining enemy troops (10:56) and this must be done before the battle could be considered done. Guam had been recaptured and wounded soldiers are seen carried on litters to be transported for medical care (11:05). The ruins of the city are viewed by Marines as they walk through Guam (13:25) and a new Marine garrison is installed with a US task force controlling the waters (13:32). George Tweed recounts his experience for the camera (13:48) and he details specifically how the Chamorros were treated poorly by Japanese forces (14:54). Some were decapitated during the occupation (15:06). The US now sought to make Guam a fortified base from which they could organize attacks towards Tokyo (16:20). The film ends with a note from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal asking for more equipment for the base dated September 5th, 1944 (17:21).

George R. Tweed (1902 – 1989) – was an American Navy man who was able to escape capture from the Japanese during their occupation of Guam in World War II, and the only American to survive the entire occupation in hiding. Tweed became a figure of controversy, both during and after the war. Historian Pedro C. Sanchez, writing about Tweed in later years, called him the lone “symbol of hope” for many Chamorros during the war. But at the same time, Tweed was held responsible by some for the torture and deaths of a number of Chamorros by the Japanese, who made strong attempts to locate Tweed throughout the war. He spent thirty-one months in hiding in the jungles of Guam. The question of whether Tweed should have turned himself in to save the suffering and deaths of Chamorros was a controversy for most of the war, as well as after the war. He returned to Guam in 1945, bringing a Chevrolet sedan as a gift to Artero as a gift from the president of General Motors. On arriving on Guam, however, Tweed was greeted by protesters (the first ever such protest on Guam), denouncing him for controversial statements he had written in his book, Robinson Crusoe USN.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit

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