Japan invading the Guadalcanal was enough to pull one former police officer out of retirement and into an allied intelligence gathering group called the Coastwatchers. The outfit was filled with locals and operated by ANZAC officers.
Captured By The Japanese
Jacob Vouza joined the group working on remote islands in 1942. Later in the year, the Sgt. Major met a Marine who gave him an American flag. However, Vouza ran into the Japanese while in possession of the flag. They captured and tortured him trying to mine him for information on the Americans.
They hit him with rifle butts, and when that didn’t work, they took a bayonet to his throat, chest, arms, and stomach. Vouza was left bleeding and alone. It wasn’t long before he passed out.
When he awoke, he was able to chew through his bindings and crawl away. However, he was so weak he stayed on all fours trying to get back to the Marines. He wanted to warn them about the Japanese.
For three miles, he crawled, and at last, he made it to their camp. Vouza gave the Marines descriptions of Japan’s weapons, vehicles, and numbers. The Marines gladly took down all the information and got him to a surgeon.
Souza was back to working 12 days later after surgery and blood transfusions. He was the main scout for the Marines as they planned a raid behind enemy lines.
Bravery In Battle
Souza led multiple patrols throughout the Guadalcanal campaign. As a result, he was given the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. He also was given Great Britain’s George Medal.
In addition to the medals, a scholarship for Solomon Island children who needed help getting an education in Souza’s name. He also was knighted in 1979 by Queen Elizabeth II.
A granite block with a bronze plaque sits in Guadalcanal commemorating Sgt. Major Souza and the Solomon Island Scouts. When he died in 1984, it became his headstone.