|Died||15 Mar 1984|
|Country||British Western Pacific Territories|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseJacob Charles Vouza was born in 1900 at Tasimboko, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands Protectorate. He was educated at the South Seas Evangelical Mission School. He served in the Solomon Islands Protectorate Armed Constabulary between 1916 and 1941, reaching the rank of sergeant major and the status of chief of police of the island.
ww2dbaseWhen the Japanese invaded the Solomon Islands, Vouza joined the coast watchers as a scout under the command of British Martin Clemens. On 7 Aug 1942 he rescued a downed American pilot of carrier Wasp. On 27 Aug, he was captured by freshly arrived Japanese soldiers on a patrol mission for the American Marines, who had given him an American flag for identification but it alerted the Japanese. The captors demanded the location of the Marines base, but Vouza refused to divulge the information. Furious, the Japanese tied Vouza to a tree and bayoneted him seven times in the chest and throat, leaving him for dead. The "absolutely fearless" Vouza, as described by Guadalcanal veteran and author William Manchester, chewed through the ropes and crawled three miles back to the Marines perimeter, refusing medical treatment until he could report all he had seen. He spent the next 12 days in a navy hospital and then returned to duty as the chief scout for the Marines. Martin Clemens made note of Vouza's ferocity in combat; once he had sliced off the head of a Japanese soldier in combat, though Vouza later said that was not the head he held in the famous photo. Someone else brought back the Japanese head from the combat zone, Vouza said.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Major General Alexander Vandegrift of the United States Marine Corps honored Vouza by granting him the rank of sergeant major of the USMC and awarded him the Silver Star medal. He was also awarded the Legion of Merit. The British government honored him by awarding him the George Medal and the Police Long Service Medal, and made him Member of the British Empire. He served as a government official on Guadalcanal from 1949 to 1960. He visited the United States in 1968, and Manchester visited him on Guadalcanal in 1978. During the Manchester visit, Vouza insisted on donning his Marines uniform. By this time, many Japanese had returned to the island in the form of investors, and that made Vouza uneasy. He gave Manchester the following words to bring back to Marine veterans in the United States: "Tell them I love them all. Me old man now, and me no look good no more. But me never forget." Vouza was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1979. Until the day he died, he flew an American flag at his residence; it was the very same flag he was given by the US Marines before his capture by the Japanese. He was buried in his USMC tunic.
William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness
Last Major Revision: Apr 2006
Jacob Vouza Timeline
|1 Jan 1900||Jacob Vouza was born.|
|7 Aug 1942||Jacob Vouza rescued a downed American pilot from carrier USS Wasp on Guadalcanal.|
|27 Aug 1942||Jacob Vouza was captured by Japanese troops of the Ichiki Detachment, for possessing an American flag, on Guadalcanal.|
|15 Mar 1984||Jacob Vouza passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945