Monday, July 11, 2016

Familian Wusstig

Every year I do a couple episodes for the local public radio program Beyond the Fence for KPRG. Here is one of mine from earlier this year which focused on the history of the Wusstig family on Guam, who I met through my work at the Guam Museum. The family is donating the headstone that was created for their ancestor while he was a POW in Japan during World War II.

To download podcast of this episode and others head to this link. 

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Ep. 237 “Sailor, Musician and Forgotten POW: Remembering George Wusstig” (hosted by Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) aired on 3/11/16.

During the Japanese occupation of Guam in World War II, a number of U.S. active duty and retired military men were taken as prisoners of war to Japan. One of those was George Ernest Wusstig who was born in Germany in the 19th century, migrated to the United States where he became a U.S. citizen, and settled in Guam in 1904.  As a skilled musician, he joined other recent migrants to Guam such as Marcello Sgambelluri and Ermette Pellicani in the Guam Navy Band, which afforded young Chamorros the opportunity to learn a variety of musical instruments and perform at public events in Hagåtña. Wusstig married into a local Chamorro family and raised a large family.  Already an elderly man when he was seized by the Japanese, he died of natural causes within nine days of being imprisoned in Kobe, Japan. 

This episode features a November 25, 2015 interview conducted by historian, Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua, with two of George Wusstig’s grandchildren, John and Florence, who were born after the war and never met their grandfather.  Their research into their grandfather’s role in Guam history began as a student project by Florence while still in high school. In addition to the oral history shared by their aunts and uncles who were raised by their grandfather, they discuss the postwar efforts and difficulties in locating George Wusstig’s body and having his remains repatriated to Guam. 

In honor of George Wusstig’s role in the Guam Navy Band, the music for this episode are all historical pieces which were played by the Navy Band prior to World War II. They are (in order of presentation): “Hands Across the Sea” by John Phillips Sousa, “In Storm and Sunshine” by John Clifford Heeds, “Under the Double Eagle March” by Josef Wagner. 

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