Vouza file photo [1048]

Jacob Vouza

Given NameJacob
Died15 Mar 1984
CountryBritish Western Pacific Territories


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.


Evans Carlson, Jacob Vouza, and John Mather, circa late 1942 or early 1943Jacob Vouza holding the severed head of a Japanese soldier, date unknownVouza in 1978 during Manchester

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Chris Barrett says:
2 May 2007 07:29:23 PM

The Aussie bloke in charge of coast watching and this bloke has been listed at British in your article above. Both Martin and this bloke ended up joining the U.S. military.
2. Gregg Heilman says:
7 Mar 2010 07:58:45 PM

Thank you for publishing this wonderful story!

This man was truly a hero and without his bravery and courage how many more would have died.

May he rest in peace, he earned it.
3. Madelyn (Rader) Connelly says:
15 May 2013 03:29:44 PM

I was surprised to see the photo of the man holding the Japanese head. My daughter and I have been going through my families old photos, slides and negatives, and we not only found the photo, but my daughter came on an envelope with my father's handwriting "Jap Head" and inside the negative of the picture! He had other negatives packaged in the same way and some were labeled Espirito Santos. My Father was Hubert William Rader and was in the Navy from 1942 (or 3) through 1945. He was 36 yrs. old when drafted and was sent to the So. Pacific on a British ship. I also recall the name of a place he was, Neumao, New Calidonia, and then was sent to Guam, and then came home aboard the Yorktown. I was only 13 when he left us, but do recall all of the above that I've mentioned. I remembered having seen the photo many years ago, but years of photos, etc., have been packed away in totes for a long time. My daughter showed the picture to my granddaughter who Googled "Jap Head" and found this article with the picture and the story on Jacob Vouza. We were floored when we found the assortment of negatives, and wonder if it should be somewhere other than in our hands. Thought you would be interested in the history of the photo.
4. Buck Jones says:
2 Feb 2014 12:50:14 PM

My Uncle Carmen Link was in the Navy SeeBees and I also have an original pic of Sir Jacob Vouza holding the same head but at a different angle .I was also floored to find out about this true hero, I bought a book Island Fighting by TIME LIFE and read about him in it also I also have many other photos eerily similar to the ones shown in the Time Life book Island Fighting.I bought this book at a garage sale for fifty cents and recognized Mr Vouza immediately. luckily my uncle and father both made it back safe Thank all you Vetrasns for giving it all so we can live Free in the best country in the world GOD BLESS THE USA. GOD BLESS THE QUEEN AND GOD BLESS ALL OUR ALLIES Respectfully Buck Jones
5. Nancy Chando says:
23 May 2014 01:32:47 PM

I have an original of the same picture in with photos my father took during the war when he was in the South Pacific. Could there have been many soldiers taking a picture of this at the same time? I have it in my possession.
6. Nancy Chando says:
23 May 2014 01:44:56 PM

I also have an original of the same jap head photo. It us in a box of pictures my father took during the war. Many lots of soldiers took a picture at the same time.
7. Nancy Chando says:
24 May 2014 04:37:22 AM

I also have an original picture of him holding the head. My father brought it back with his army pictures from the South Pacific, WWII. The angle is slightly different.
8. Jon says:
25 Dec 2019 10:39:27 PM

This is an amazing man. My grandfather has the same pic. Over the years I’ve seen a few of his pictures in history books. Later on, believe on the history channel, they were talking about the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. They had said many photos were copied for veterans. I just assumed happens a lot. My grandfather was a marine mortarman in the 1st Div. Lewis Meyer. Thanks for the article.

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Event(s) Participated:
» Guadalcanal Campaign

Jacob Vouza Photo Gallery
Evans Carlson, Jacob Vouza, and John Mather, circa late 1942 or early 1943
See all 3 photographs of Jacob Vouza

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