Thursday, August 4, 2011


The Bank of Guam in a Quonset Hut
after the war

I am old enough to remember Guam's quonset huts.  There were at least two across the street from my house in Sinajaña.  I was told they were used by the government as a dispensary at one time, and then I think I remember the Boys Scouts using one of them.  They are long gone.  But there used to be quonset huts all over Guam; so many, in fact, that Guam could have been called Quonset Island. 

Our young people don't realize just how militarized this island was right after Liberation.  With Japan still at war, the U.S. used Guam as one of the main launching pads of the attack against the Japanese homeland.  Some 200,000 American military personnel worked on Guam supporting naval and air operations against Japan.  The Navy base at Apra and air bases in the central and northern parts of Guam were thriving with activity.

This is where the quonset hut came in.  It was cheap, light-weight, easy to assemble and easily moved.  At least 150,000 of them were manufactured during the war.

After the war, quonset huts were sold to private hands, given away or taken over by local government. The first convent of Mercy Sisters in Hagåtña was made of - quonset huts!

Enough people are old enough to think of the quonset hut as a post-war cultural icon of Guam, as seen in the photo above.  But there are so many younger people who've never even seen one.  You say to them "quonset hut," and they go "huh?"

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