The level of discourse between the US and North Korea may have diminished to a teenage display of air light-sabre in recent days, but one word just won’t go away – Guam.
President Trump and Supreme Leader Kim seem to be having a fine old time screaming threats at each other, but if they keep saying “Guam” then eventually the world is going to have to catch up with what it means.
Life, after all, is an education.
Saint Peacock once had a colleague who served in the US Navy on Guam, and the island left three lasting impressions on him.
Firstly, the overwhelming odour of aviation fuel.
Secondly, frequent visitation by the brown tree snake.
And thirdly, the shocking taste of American military personnel, who could have whatever they wished shipped in, possibly free of charge, to remind them of home. At the time he was stationed there, it was water beds and kimonos that were in highest demand.
Here then, is the Saint Peacock educational package to enable you to better picture the tropical speck in the crosshairs of Kim Jong-Un’s supergun.
- The people of Guam are called Guamanians. Not Guamese.
- Guam has a US naval base at one end, and a US airforce base at the other. As of 2014, it was said to hold “the largest munitions stockpile in the world,” which was “stored in igloos deep [in] the jungle, surrounded by brown tree snakes and wild boar.”
- American military commanders like to refer to Guam as their “permanent aircraft carrier.”
- If anyone can be said to be prepared for a nuclear strike, Guam can, given its frequent rogering by typhoons. Many homes are already concrete bunkers, and typhoon strikes have made the population familiar with suddenly living without power, light, refrigeration, communications and water.
They’ve even experienced their own The Road-style post-apocalyptic revelations: “Without air-conditioning or refrigeration, the bacteria and mildew in the house flourish, and it stinks inside. The ants invade. The exhaust from the neighbors’ generators fills the house with terrible, headache-inducing fumes, made worse by the smoke coming from other people burning garbage.”
- Post-typhoon vegetation plastered to the walls of houses is known locally as “storm salad”
- The K-Mart is a tourist attraction
- It’s not just Kim who has designs on the place, China also sees Guam as a “chess piece of the utmost importance.”
- The capital of Guam is the alt-code heavy Hagåtña.
- Even though Guam is small, not much bigger than the Isle of Wight, its jungles were sufficiently dense to hide Japanese sergeant Shoichi Yokoi for 28 years, supposedly unaware the war was over. Sgt Yokoi was “captured” by farmers in 1972.
- Sgt Yokoi’s comment on returning home, “It is with much embarrassment that I return,” became a popular saying in Japan. His cave in Guam is now, like the K-Mart, a tourist attraction.