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Celebrating a Birthday in the South Pacific

By Susan Carlisle

Susan Carlisle


My feet are propped up on a table in the sunroom as I daydream in the warm spring sunshine and look out over the slowly greening backyard.

What am I daydreaming about in this idyllic spot? My upcoming birthday. You see, this year I’ll celebrate it in Guam. A lot of people don’t even know where the island is located. I have an idea, but before I leave on the trip I’ll have a map out and make sure I know where I’m going. I’ll also be travelling to Hawaii, Sinpan, Tinianand Iwo Jima. The last few are a chain of small islands in the south Pacific above Australia and toward Japan.

What will bring me to these garden spots is a WWII trip my husband wanted to take. The big moment of the trip is to get to go to Iwo Jima. Wouldn’t you know that would coincide with my birthday? Really I don’t mind. I was pretty excited about the idea also. My husband loves WWII history and I enjoy it–just not on the same level as he does. We’ve been planning this trip for years. The one thing neither one of us will say when the other dies is that we wish we had done that.

In order to go to Iwo Jima, you must be with a veteran of WWII who fought there and a guest of the Marines. The Japanese keep the island closed off except for one designated day. This year that happens to be my birthday. There is talk that soon the island will be closed for good, so we had to take the opportunity to go before that happens.

I’ll be sharing my trip and pics during our weekly travel post so be sure and stop by to read them.

Is there somewhere special that you would like to go for your birthday, or a holiday/vacation?



Shannon - February 28, 2013 - 1:03 am

WOW, what an amazing trip. Is this something that you and your husband put together or is this an escorted tour?
A few years ago a cruise line offered a 24 day tour of WWII sites in the South Pacific and I wish that I had gone with my grandfather.
You are so right. You never want to get to the point of saying we wish we had done that.
My old roomates were from Guam and we were lucky enough to live close to their parents. We got some great homemade food. Recently I read that Guam is one of the best, chepaest places to retire in the US.
Can’t wait to hear your updates.

Laura Russell - February 28, 2013 - 3:19 am

Your trip sounds exciting. Visiting Iwo Jima now is a very good idea. My father-in-law was with the 3rd Infantry Division in WWII and marched from the tip of Italy’s boot to northern France. That trip to Italy to revisit certain spots so often talked about never quite happened. He passed away last year at 89. Travel safe.

Mary Preston - February 28, 2013 - 4:00 am

What a fabulous way to celebrate your birthday.

My Father was up in New Guinea during WWII. He never talked about it much. Just the funny things.

Marilyn Baron - February 28, 2013 - 5:46 am

First of all, Happy Birthday. We’ll be thinking of you. I think that’s the neatest thing. My father was a top turret gunner in a B-17 during WW II and after that experience he would never get on a plane again. He drove everywhere, even to California. But as a result, I have always been interested in WW II but in the European Theatre. My husband is also a big WW II buff and last year we went to Berlin, a place he’s always wanted to go but I never wanted to. We had a great time and visited a lot if of the places related tio the War. Next year, our friends are going to some kind of Normandy invasion commemoration and we’re thinking of going since my father flew over that area and bombed it on D-Day before the troops landed. For my birthday, I might like to go back to Bermuda where I set my new WW II spy thriller Under the Moon Gate. Hope it’s a great trip and I can’t wait to read about it.

Sandy Elzie - February 28, 2013 - 6:44 am

Like Mary, my father was “over there” but didn’t talk much about it. He told a few funny stories, but the rest went to his grave with him. The few…and I mean F-E-W things he mentioned are in the book I wrote, Cora Jean, (loosely based on he and my mother)that I’ll be “pitching” soon.

My father was a tail gunner on a B-52…a very dangerous place to be since the enemy, naturally, wanted to take out the guns if they couldn’t take down the plane.

I know you’ll enjoy your birthday & can’t wait to read your travel articles one of these days.

Pam Asberry - February 28, 2013 - 7:33 am

I want to go on a CRUISE! There is a southern Caribbean itinerary I have been looking at but just anywhere warm and sunny would be wonderful!

Debbie Kaufman - February 28, 2013 - 7:47 am

Wow, that will be a trip of a lifetime, just not in the usual touristy sense! Both my dad and an uncle fought in the South Pacific. I have pics of my dad, a U.S. Marine, in Japan right after the war ended. My uncle. I’m told, survived what we refer to as the Bataan Death March. Take lots of pics, and Happy Birthday!

Elaine Calloway - February 28, 2013 - 9:07 am

Wow, you’ll have quite the birthday! We usually like going to Savannah for my birthday (it coincides w/the Irish festival, the book festival, etc.) but this year we went to New Orleans instead.

An exotic place that I’d like to go on my birthday at some point? *Ireland*

Have fun in Guam and take pics to share!


Marilyn Baron - February 28, 2013 - 11:31 am

Elaine, Ireland is great. You would really love it.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 12:11 pm


We are going with Stephen Ambroise tours. It should be a great trip. You would have loved going on that trip with your grandfather. The vets always have great stories to tell. I look forward to sharing the details of the trip.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 12:13 pm

I had a great uncle that was in the same area as your grandfather. I’ve even written a book about his WWII adventures. I hope to have it in the market soon.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 12:18 pm

You have Great WWII history in your family also. I had family members that came in soon after D-Day. I would pick a hut out over the water for my next place to visit but my husband is a do person so I image that we will do something he comes up with. Bermuda sounds lovely.

Connie Gillam - February 28, 2013 - 3:55 pm


What a special birthday. I love visiting historical places. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:21 pm

New Guinea would be a hot place to spend the war. Few men talked about their experiences until late in life.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:23 pm

I look forward to read your book.That is an interesting time in history. Tail gunners did have a rough time of it.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:24 pm

A cruise sounds wonderful to me too. I want to cruise around Greece.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:26 pm


I think of your family as we visit place. Battan was a horrible event. So many died.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:27 pm

New Orleans is always fun. You would love Ireland. It’s magical.

Susan Carlisle - February 28, 2013 - 8:28 pm

You can count on pics.

Sia Huff - March 1, 2013 - 7:47 am

I know you’ll have a wonderful time, I look forward to hearing all about it. It’s kinda of sad, as all these wonderful vets are passing on, we finally begin to talk about their time. We’ve missed so much because the conversation didn’t get started sooner.
Greece and Italy are my next milestone birthday treat.

Hildie McQueen - March 2, 2013 - 5:39 am

I love to travel, never been to Japan but my youngest daughter’s hubby is about to be stationed there, so he’s taking her with. Which means her dad and I will be definitely traveling to that country in the future. What an interesting trip for you and your husband, I foresee that it will be an emotional one for him as well, so much history there.

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