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04-18-06, 01:07 PM #1
Tortured, Guadalcanal scout finished mission
April 24, 2006
Lore of the Corps: Tortured, Guadalcanal scout finished mission
By Keith A. Milks
Special to the Times
Of all those who have worn the blue diamond patch of the 1st Marine Division, only one never attended boot camp or even stepped foot in the U.S. until he was 68 years old.
Born in the tiny village of Tasimboko, Guadalcanal, in 1900, Jacob Charles Vouza spent his childhood balancing native traditions with a British-sponsored education at a local mission. He joined the Solomon Islands Protectorate Armed Constabulary at 16 and served as a policeman for the next quarter-century, eventually retiring as a sergeant major in 1941.
Later that year, as the Japanese steamrolled through the Pacific and occupied Guadalcanal, Vouza was among a group of islanders who volunteered to report on Japanese troop and naval movements.
It was in this capacity that Vouza rescued a downed American aviator on Aug. 7, 1942, and escorted him through Guadalcanal’s jungles to the newly landed 1st Marine Division.
Vouza volunteered to serve with the Marine Corps and use his knowledge of the island to report on the Japanese.
On Aug. 27, he stumbled across a large Japanese force moving through the jungle, but before he could return to make his report, the 42-year-old was captured. After a small American flag was discovered tucked inside his loincloth, the Japanese tied Vouza to a tree and interrogated him about the Marine defenses.
Vouza was tortured over several hours. In addition to beating him, the Japanese soldiers repeatedly slashed and stabbed his arms, face, throat, stomach and shoulders — all to no avail.
After their prisoner wouldn’t talk, the Japanese left Vouza bound to the tree, bleeding profusely. Despite his weakened condition, he managed to free himself and stumble through the dense jungle to U.S. lines, where he reported on the Japanese before collapsing from exhaustion and blood loss.
Less than two weeks later, Vouza was back to work with the Marines, serving throughout the Guadalcanal campaign.
Gen. Alexander Vandegrift, 1st MarDiv’s commanding general, presented Vouza with the Silver Star for resisting the Japanese torture and carrying out his scout mission.
Vouza also received the Legion of Merit and British George Medal for his wartime service and was made an honorary Marine.
After the war, Vouza served in a variety of government positions; in 1957, he was made a member of the British Empire.
Vouza first visited the U.S. in 1968 as the guest of honor at a 1st MarDiv reunion. He was frequently visited on Guadalcanal by his former Marine comrades.
In March 1984, five years after being knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the 84-year-old died of natural causes on Guadalcanal. He was buried in his Marine uniform.
The writer is a gunnery sergeant assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
04-19-06, 11:03 AM #2
Once A Marine Always A Marine:
I remember my father telling us about the war and Guadacanal where he station during WW ll . He was shot up pretty bad and they told his family he would not live six months: however; God had other plans for him, he finished his tour of duty returned home and rejoined for another tour taking him back to the islands.Finally returned home now resting and serving in Heaven's Marine's. Semper Fi
Proud To Be A Marine's Daughter !
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