From the Archive: Coastwatcher Vouza

By Maj Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret)

SgtMaj Jacob Charles Vouza’s heroism saved the lives of countless Marines on Guadalcanal and set an example for all Marines. “He was an awful mess. I could hardly bear to look at him. After he chewed free of his bonds, he set off to contact the Marines, but after a bit, he became so weak that he had to crawl on all fours. He must have crawled nearly three miles. To this day, I am still in awe of his courage and physical endurance.”
—Martin Clemens, coastwatcher, Guadalcanal

He was inducted as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and became head man (mayor) of his village. His home village was renamed California in his honor. By special order of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Vouza was named an Honorary Marine with the grade of sergeant major. He was promoted to the police force rank of inspector. He was appointed district head man and served as president of the Native Council and as a member of the Solomon Islands Advisory Council. By unanimous vote of the membership, he was made a life member of the 1st Marine Division Association. In 1953, Vouza represented the Solomon Islands at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In later years he was knighted by the queen.