Marines Pied Piper dies, aged 80

An American Marine who became known as "the Pied Piper of Saipan" after single-handedly persuading more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender during the war for the Pacific in 1944 has died at the age of 80.

Guy Gabaldon was brought up as a tough Chicano kid in the barrios of eastern Los Angeles and signed up for the Marines on his 17th birthday.

He arrived on Saipan, a Japanese-held island in the Marianas, as an 18-year-old Marine Private First Class, only 5ft 4in tall, but managed to use street Japanese picked up from a foster family back home - along with bribes of cigarettes and candy - to persuade enemy troops to abandon their posts.

In one single day, on July 8, 1944, Gabaldon was said to have enticed 800 Japanese, both soldiers and civilians, to surrender with a mixture of threats and a promise that all prisoners would be well treated.

The first time the young Marine pulled off the trick, he arrived back in camp with seven prisoners and was immediately threatened with a court-martial for having deserted his post.

The following morning, he returned from another unauthorised trip with 50 Japanese prisoners and from then on he was allowed to operate as a "lone wolf".

Altogether Gabaldon was said to have persuaded as many as 1,500 Japanese to lay down their arms, despite a military code that saw death as preferable to surrender.

"Working alone in front of the lines, he daringly entered enemy caves, pillboxes, buildings, and jungle brush, frequently in the face of hostile fire, and succeeded in not only obtaining vital military information, but in capturing well over one thousand enemy civilians and troops,"

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RIP, great man.

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