Guy Gabaldon

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Guy Gabaldon (1926–2006) was a United States Marine in the Second World War, who distinguished himself, during the Battle of Saipan,[1] for not only obtaining the surrenders, but preventing the suicide of a large number of Japanese civilians and troops. He did much of this as a lone negotiator, at extreme personal risk.

Gabaldon, of Hispanic origin, had grown up in lower-class East Los Angeles, California, with Japanese neighbors as his second family.[2] While it was certainly accented, he had the rare skill for the time of speaking idiomatic Japanese. A movie based on the events, "From Hell to Eternity", portrayed the 5-foot-4 Gabaldon as a strapping blonde, blue-eyed Marine.

His efforts on Saipan are now standard teaching examples for U.S. military psychological operations personnel, as well as human-source intelligence personnel trying to communicate across cultures.

He received the second-highest decoration of the Navy Cross, upgraded from the Silver Star. While the time limit on such awards has passed, and Gabaldon is dead, there are petition drives to have the Medal of Honor awarded posthumously.[3]

The Medal is awarded for valor above and beyond the call of duty, at risk of life, for actions that could not have been ordered. There are a number of cases where wartime awards, not issued (e.g., Ben Salomon) or issued at a lower level than seems, in hindsight, inappropriate, have been upgraded (e.g., 442nd Regimental Combat Team).