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Last updateSat, 24 Mar 2018 12am







    Saturday, March 24, 2018-6:11:58P.M.






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BC’s Tales of the Pacific: Another idea about the museum

I HAVE an idea for the NMI museum and I want to bounce it off you. 

One of the great battles of the Second World War occurred here. The invasion of Saipan has been called the D-Day of the Pacific for good reason. First, it occurred in June 1944, the same month as the more famous D-Day. Second, the penetration of Japan’s inner defense perimeter by the Americans marked the beginning of the end of the war. It was the largest tank battle in the entire Pacific theater and the first time the opposing forces clashed in a heavily populated area.

The battle was horrendous, costing the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians. Every islander knows what took place at Marpi toward the end. The wreckage of the battle is scattered from one end of the island to the other. And therein lays my idea.

Saipan is a treasure trove of relics from the Second World War. We have driven past the Japanese tank at the corner of Beach Road and Quartermaster. Children play on the old concrete pillboxes after school. One can see old guns on the drive out to Ladder Beach and Marpi itself is home to a vast array of weaponry and vehicles.

I propose to leave Marpi exactly as it is. It is a shining tourist attraction. But I propose that many of the remainder of the war relics be brought together to the museum to expand the current display on the war.

The museum’s holdings are already impressive, so I don’t want to give the impression that I am dissatisfied with the display. I have two main lines of thought here.

First, as the Japanese tank along Beach Road shows, time and rust are taking their toll. By bringing the tank inside it can be preserved for future generations, along with the other relics. The museum will have the resources and personnel to properly preserve these vital objects. Certainly they will last longer than they will out in the elements.

Second, by bringing the war relics together into a large museum display, it creates a greater incentive for tourists to visit and teachers to bring their students there. It is obvious the museum should build its displays around three major subjects: the wreck of the Concepcion, the Second World War, and Chamolinian history.

It may be too much to ask to pull one of the American tanks out of the lagoon, though that would be great if it could be done. But all that is needed to move the Japanese tank from Beach Road to the museum is the proper paperwork and a heavy trailer with a winch. Willpower combined with a little mechanical power.

Other islands around the Pacific are experiencing the same degradation of war relics. Even the shipwrecks of Chuuk lagoon are rotting away. There is time to save the Saipan relics from further decay if we turn them over to the museum.

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He travels the Pacific but currently resides on the mainland U.S.