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In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15), the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is sharing stories across multiple eras of some of the nation’s most decorated Hispanic American Veterans.
Guy Gabaldon, a fearless Marine who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, is remembered as a true American hero for his exceptional valor and unique contributions to the war effort. Born in 1926, Gabaldon grew up in East Los Angeles and had a challenging childhood. He was eventually taken in by a Japanese American family, which exposed him to the Japanese language and culture, a skill that would later prove invaluable.
In 1943, at the age of 17, Gabaldon enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, driven by a deep sense of duty. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division and participated in some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific campaign, including the Battle of Saipan.
What truly set Gabaldon apart, however, was his extraordinary ability to communicate with Japanese soldiers and civilians. He used his knowledge of the Japanese language to persuade hundreds of Japanese soldiers to surrender during the Battle of Saipan, a feat that earned him the nickname “The Pied Piper of Saipan.” Gabaldon’s daring efforts not only saved American lives but also provided invaluable intelligence for the U.S. military.
For his remarkable bravery and contributions to the war effort, Guy Gabaldon was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. His legacy extends beyond his military service, as he continued to work towards promoting cultural understanding and peace between the United States and Japan in the post-war years.
Guy Gabaldon’s story is a testament to the power of compassion and communication, showcasing how one individual’s courage and determination can make a profound difference in the midst of war. He remains an inspiring figure whose legacy serves as a reminder of the human capacity for understanding and reconciliation, even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Learn more about Guy Gabaldon here: https://voces.lib.utexas.edu/collections/stories/guy-gabaldon