George McMillin

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George Johnson McMillin
George McMillin.png
38th Naval Governor of Guam
In office
April 20, 1940 – December 10, 1941
Preceded by James Thomas Alexander
Succeeded by None (island captured by Japan)
Personal details
Born November 25, 1889
Died 1983
Nationality  United States
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Commands USS Medusa
Battles/wars First Battle of Guam

George Johnson McMillin (November 25, 1889 – 1983) was a United States Navy Rear Admiral who served as the 38th and final Naval Governor of Guam. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1911 and served as an officer during four separate conflicts: World War I, the occupation of the Dominican Republic, the United States occupation of Veracruz, and World War II. He served on the staff of both the Naval Academy and the Naval War College as well. He is most remembered as the commander who surrendered Guamanian forces to a much larger Japanese force during the First Battle of Guam, only the second battle of World War II involving the United States. He had previously evacuated all but one civilian American citizen from the island and attempted to rebuild defenses after a strong typhoon devastated the island the year before. On December 8, 1941, Japanese forces invaded Guam and McMillin surrendered two days later. He spent the rest of the war at various Japanese prisoner of war camps.

Life[edit]

McMillin was born in Ohio on November 25, 1889 to Chas and Addie McMillin.[1] He lived in Youngstown, Ohio and had two brothers.[2] He was left-handed.[3]

Naval service[edit]

He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1907, graduating in 1911.[1] He transferred to the USS Delaware as an ensign the year of his graduation.[4] From March 1919 to October of the same year, he served aboard the USS New Mexico as an assistant engineer officer. Following this assignment, he headed the Electrical School at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.[1] From August 1924 to September 1926 he served within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Afterward, he became first lieutenant of the USS Saratoga for three years.[1]

In the May 1930 to May 1933, he served as assistant to the Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy while a commander.[5] In 1933, he was attached to the United States Asiatic Fleet. He attended the Naval War College in 1936 and served on staff there for two years following his graduation.[1] From May 1938 to April 1939, he was executive officer aboard the USS Idaho,[1] and then took command of the USS Medusa.[1]

Governorship[edit]

McMillin served as the Naval Governor of Guam from April 20, 1940 to December 10, 1941.[6] On November 3, 1940, the worst typhoon since 1918 hit Guam. The storm destroyed a majority of the island's crops, caused extensive damage to many military structures, and destroyed thousands of residential homes. McMillin requested $50,000 in aid from the American Red Cross.[7]

He oversaw a major evacuation of all United States citizens on the island during his term as the political situation with Japan grew more tense. In the summer of 1941, the evacuation began and was completed on October 17, 1941 with only one, the pregnant wife of the chief commissary steward, remaining.[8]

Battle of Guam[edit]

A Japanese propaganda poster produced depicting a number of prominent prisoners of war held by the government. McMillin can be seen in the top left of the poster.

The Department of the Navy informed McMillin of the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8. Upon receiving this news and the beginning of United States involvement in World War II, McMillin ordered the evacuation of various civilian populations, the jailing of all Japanese nationals on the island, and churches, banks, and schools closed. A few hours later, the Japanese attacked Guam.[8]

At 8:27 p.m. on December 8, the battle began. Japanese planes first began bombing the Marine barracks and then other key targets. The USS Penguin also sank in the initial attack. The USS Robert L. Barnes was set ablaze and captured by Japanese forces.[8] On December 10, over 5000 Japanese troops landed on the island in numerous locations, compared to American troops numbering less than 1000. A group of Marines, sailors, and members of the Insular Force Guard defended the Plaza de España but met a much larger Japanese force.[9] McMillin soon ordered all documents of military value be destroyed as a Japanese victory became more apparent.[10]

By 5:45 a.m., it became apparent that further resistance by American Marines would do no good, and McMillin ordered the sounding of a car horn three times, which both sides recognized as a sign to cease fire.[8] McMillin surrendered the island at 6 a.m. on December 10 when Japanese troops captured him in the reception room of his living quarters, though some small fighting continued until 7:00 a.m. Twenty-one American military personnel and civilians died during the attack.[11] He was one of the first American prisoners of war held by the Japanese and was held until August 20, 1945 when Soviet forces freed him.[8]

Prisoner of war[edit]

After his capture on Guam, McMillin spent the rest of World War II as a prisoner of war at various Japanese POW camps. He was initially brought to a prison camp on Taiwan.[2] On a few occasions there he was allowed to write to his wife, Annabel,[2] who later sponsored and christened the cruiser USS Guam in 1944.[12] Soon after his interment began, Dōmei Tsushin interviewed McMillin in a camp located on Shikoku. They reported that he supposedly seemed "chipper" and expressed his wish that President Franklin Roosevelt know that Guam had been "valiantly" defended.[3] Eventually the Japanese transferred him to the Zentsūji camp, where he was the oldest prisoner at fifty-four.[13]

Later life[edit]

McMillin retired from the Navy as a rear admiral in June 1949. He served during four conflicts: World War I, the occupation of the Dominican Republic, the United States occupation of Veracruz, and World War II.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Japanese Fishing Vessel Wrecked on Guam in Area Closed to Aliens; 24 of Crew Saved". The New York Times. 16 January 1940. p. 12. 
  2. ^ a b c "Capt. McMillin Writes He Health is 'Splendid'". The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio). The Vindicator Printing Co. 12 August 1944. p. 1. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Guam Stand Praised; Foe Quotes Governor". The New York Times. 18 January 1942. p. 4. 
  4. ^ Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps 1915. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1915. p. 60. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Annapolis Gives Athletic Awards". The New York Times. 27 May 1932. p. 18. 
  6. ^ "Naval Era Governors of Guam". Guampedia. Guam: University of Guam. 10 August 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Typhoon Spreads Wreckage Across Guam; Plea to Red Cross". The New York Times. 4 November 1940. p. 1. 
  8. ^ a b c d e McMillin, George (April–September 1972). "Surrender of Guam to the Japanese". In Carano, Paul. Guam Recorder (Guam: University of Guam) 2 (2-3): 9–25. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Evan-Hatch & Associates (July 2004). War in the Pacific National Historic Park: An Administrative History. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior. p. 35. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (15 January 1980). "Dying War Hero Can't Get Help from VA". The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida). Cox Enterprises. p. 1. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Palomo, Tony; Katherine Aguon (31 August 2010). "WWII: From Occupation to Liberation". Guampedia. Guam: University of Guam. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Guam". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Earhart, David (2008). Certain Victory: Images of World War II in Japanese Media. M. E. Sharpe. p. 349. ISBN 0-7656-1776-5. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Rottman, Gordon (2004). Guam 1941 & 1944: Loss and Reconquest. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 1-84176-811-1. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
Military offices
Preceded by
James Thomas Alexander
Naval Governor of Guam
1940-41
Succeeded by
Abolished
Title last held by Roy Geiger