[USS Missouri ] [Mille
Atoll Surrender] [Northern
Palaus Island Surrender] [Rota Island Surrender]
The surrender of Rota, Northern Marianas, took place on September 2, 1945. The Commanding General of the Japanese Imperial Forces on Rota, Major Shigeo Iwagawa, surrendered to Colonel H. N. Stent, USMC, the representative of the Island Commander Guam, aboard USS HEYLIGER DE 510 off Rota Island.
On the island were 2,651 Japanese Army troops and 13 Japanese naval enlisted men and one naval officer, as well as a civilian population of 5,562 persons, divided among 1,019 Japanese, 3,572 Okinawans, 181 Koreans and 790 native Chamorros.
Although badly in need of clothing and very short of imported food, the civilian population of Rota was found to be in satisfactory health. The people were living, for the most part, in caves and in areas protected from bombing by overhanging cliffs. During the month, the people were gradually moved out into their former village sites and cultivated areas, and clothing (mostly surveyed military garments) was distributed among the natives.
The following article appeared in DESANews, January-February issue, 2012, submitted by Ron York, QM 3/c, USS HEYLIGER DE 510.
The Surrender of Rota
The DE I was on, USS Heyliger DE 510, never heard a shot fired in anger, but it earned a modest place in the history of the Pacific War. I was a plankowner at commissioning in New York on March 24, 1945, and stayed aboard until she was mothballed on June 20, 1946 at Green Cover Springs, Fl. (She came out of mothballs in March 1951, did training exercises on the East Coast and eventually was sunk as a target in 1966.)
By August 1945, Heyliger had spent time for more training at Pearl Harbor and was arriving at Guam in the Marianas when the two atomic bombs were hitting Japan. Our only war mission was to steam to Rota, an island just north of Guam, which had been bypassed by the allies but still had a garrison of about 4,000 troops, mostly sick and starving, and take that island's surrender. Just after dawn on September 2, 1945, we hove to off the island and sent our whaleboat to the beach. It returned moments later with a few Japanese officers who clambered up the rope ladder and stood swaying on the deck in the bright sunlight.
Big History Event Viewed
This was it! Every sailor and marine on our tiny warship knew it and savored every moment. They lined the rails and the upper deck, craning their necks for a glimpse of the hated enemy. Marines with tommy guns marched them to the Officers' Wardroom. Within moments the papers had been signed, the Japanese were back on the quarterdeck, saluted, walked stiffly to the ladder, and were gone. A moment of history, something for the ages, and we were part of it. Similar scenes were going on all over the Pacific, including General Douglas MacArthur strutting through his big moment aboard USS Missiouri at Tokyo Bay.
Perhaps it looked so large in our eyes because up until that time most people's only knowledge of great moments in history came through grainy and fuzzy news photos, or an occasional newsreel, days or weeks later. With the coming of the TV era a few years later, each day's history was on the 6 PM News.
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