Arthur TovesMy name is Arthur Benjamin Toves, born and raised in Sumay now residing in Agat. On December 8, when they start bombing Sumay, that's right after the mass. My father's still at work at the cable station. My mother gathers us up and we ran to Agat, taking anything that we can handle. We went to Agat and stayed there, below the mango trees. We waited for our father because he's still at work. So, finally he came. At nighttime, he went to Sumay to bring clothing for us. Three days, two days later, the Japanese landed and we were found right below the mango tree. They checked each and every inch of the area to find anything in that area.

Early in the morning my mother, because she came from Agat, early in the morning she went to the oldest brother, for us to stay in the house belonging to her grandfather. We stayed there for at least a week. Then, an announcement came out that all abled bodies were to report at this time to work. The following morning I reported myself. I was assigned to build, and to help down at the Orote Point air strip. Day in and day out, day in and day out, we worked under the sun.

One afternoon, this Japanese came to me and called me and said, "Koche koi." Come here.  "Koski", "stand at attention." I stood at attention and he whacked me, closed his two fists. I do not know what's happening. He closed his two fists and whacked me all over my face, my nose, the blood is coming down on me. I begged him, "Gomen kudasai." "Excuse me." Sorry." He went to the truck and picked up his baseball bat to hit me. So, I keep on hollering, "Gomen kudasai, gomen kudasai." God saved me. He didn't whack me. But, I got to work every day, every day, every day.

Before you go to work in the morning, you have to go and see somebody, where are you going to be placed at. So, this morning I was placed at the rice field, working in trenches, preparing for the rice, planting the rice. At night we put medicine in the rice field. I worked there for months and months, under the sun, rain. Then, they bring the bodies to mind the animals, pigs, cows. So, we have to put fences and feed the pigs. So, I was the one to go out in the boonies, the jungle, to pick up grapefruit, wild papaya, all kinds, so I could cook and feed the pigs for the army.

When I got to my house one day, my father was missing. I asked my mother, "Where's my father?" The Japanese came because they thought that he was a spy because he worked for the cable station. He knows radios, he knows about cable. So, they took him to prison. Okay. I still go to work. My father's not at the house.

So, all of us were put in the concentration camp in Fenna. A Japanese truck will come and pick us up to work in Agat. One afternoon, I was assigned to dig a trench, fox hole. One of the highest Japanese in Agat. I did that for one week, digging holes, fox holes. One afternoon, he ordered me and said to me, "Get one shovel and go to the cemetery and dig this hole for two." I did that because it's very soft, sandy part. I finished what they told me to do. I hid under the banana tree and wait for them. Sooner or later the truck came with the two local prisoners and the mother. They followed behind the car with the two Japanese, armed with swords and .45 pistol. When they got into the cemetery, they tied the hands of the prisoners. They ordered them to kneel down, face one another. "Look down at the hole and bend your neck." Ladies and gentlemen, sooner or later, that sword was flying, whacking the neck. One was next to the lady, the other was not, because they used the .45 to kill the guy.

But, what makes me feel so bad that day, is that the mother was standing right next to the grave, watching all the things that being done to her son. I feel so bad, but I cannot do anything, or else, I'll be in the hole also.

They left and my superior officer told me, the one in charge of me, "You stay and put back all the dirt." I did. It was getting dark. So, I left the cemetery, started going to the ranch in Fenna. Two weeks later, my father's still in prison. They came to the ranch, armed with bayonets, looking for anything to prove that we are spy. They didn't find anything. They brought us to Agana, my two oldest brothers, my two oldest cousins and myself. They bring up the recent account. My father was on top of that.

Nine o'clock in the morning, I noticed the executioner in the window, the one who beheaded the two fellow that I knew in the concentration camp. I said to my brother, "That's the guy." He said, "Shut up. Sit down." So, we sat and we waited. When he came out, he let us stand, all of us five, attention. He touches my brother's neck, the oldest one. He said, "This is no good because this is kind of hard." Going down the line, they came to me. He touches my neck and exactly, this is what he said, "This is very good." One time, meaning to say the sword would just go through all the way because I was the youngest one. Six o'clock in the evening, God spares us again. We didn't eat breakfast, we didn't eat lunch. Six o'clock they send us from Agana, walk up to Fenna.

Later on, a month, my father got spared and joined us at the ranch. Then, the bombing was there already. The Americans are planning to land, bomb different places. They're all shipped up. So, the orders are to march from Fenna to Manenggon. We hit our destination, no food, nothing. The younger ones, they go in the boonies and fetch for wild, anything that we can eat to survive.

I'm a proud American. I thank the U.S. Forces when they landed because I got spared and I was alive. I didn't claim any war reparation for the longest time. never did because I was happy and strong. I'm a proud American because I want to be free, freedom of America.

Real People. Real Stories. A weekly testimonial series provided by the Office of Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. The testimony of Arthur Benjamin Toves, is recorded in the Guam War Claims Review Commission public hearing held in Hagåtña, Guam on December 9, 2003. This story sponsored by the community involvement of Bank of Guam. Photo courtesy of Expressions Studio.