A Chamorro Steward’s Service Rediscovered

Dominica Tolentino

Summer 2020

Born in 1919, Albert Edward Taitano Carbullido, son of Antonio and Maria Carbullido of Agat, Guam, had always seemed larger than life. Physically big and with a smile to match his size, he rarely said much about his time in the Navy during World War II. Photos of the time, however, reveal a much trimmer, almost gaunt-looking young man, but still with that huge, charismatic smile.

Born in 1919, Albert Edward Taitano Carbullido, son of Antonio and Maria Carbullido of Agat, Guam, had always seemed larger than life. Physically big and with a smile to match his size, he rarely said much about his time in the Navy during World War II. Photos of the time, however, reveal a much trimmer, almost gaunt-looking young man, but still with that huge, charismatic smile. After graduating from Guam Institute in 1938, he worked a series of jobs and was in Canton Island working for Pan American Airways when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Guam and Wake Island. After transporting to San Francisco, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 21, 1942, some two months after the start of the war.
As a Chamorro enlistee, he was assigned as a mess attendant on the battleship Maryland shortly thereafter. He recalled that the ship’s commander Rear Admiral Harry Hill was so impressed by his smile he ranked the previously unrated steward as a Third-Class Petty Officer. Carbullido then went on to serve aboard the cruiser Wichita and traveled to the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. He was on the Wichita during the American invasion of Saipan and Guam in the summer of 1944. But that duty station to his home would prove bittersweet.
He learned his sister Evelyn had been killed by the Japanese. Overcome with grief, Carbullido found it difficult to speak. He returned to his family every few days, though, bringing food provided by his fellow Wichita sailors.
When the Wichita left for the Philippines, Carbullido put in for a transfer to Admiral Chester Nimitz’s newly established headquarters in Guam. He returned to the island as a First Class Petty Officer in December 1944 and was placed in charge of the Bachelor Officers Quarters Central Office. Though Guam was still a combat zone, Carbullido lived in Agat with his parents in a thatched roof home built by the Navy on the beach near Ga’an Point. He was honorably discharged in 1945.
Carbullido married his former classmate, Nieves Martinez, the daughter of Juan and Rita Martinez of Agana. Though the marriage did not produce children of their own, the couple adopted eight children of Nieves’ two brothers.
Carbulido’s post war life included a combination of public and community service. He was active in Guam politics and worked for the Government of Guam and other civic organizations. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 82, proud to be an American and Chamorro.
Recently, a few chance events led to the recovery of a 1997 interview by Guam historian Dave Lotz. The interview presented a missing piece in our family history –and my uncle’s experience during the battle for Guam--was finally brought to light. He is honored in the Congressional Record as the “quintessential public servant,” but for his family, he was “Uncle Daddy,” a man with a big heart, quick wit and deep love for all of us.
Although his story is still not completely known, it is comforting to remember him again but with a new understanding of his military service.
* The author wishes to thank Dave Lotz, Edward San Agustin and Paulina San Agustin for their assistance with this article.

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