Jacob Vouza

Jacob Vouza was one of Martin Clemens' finest scouts. Born on Guadalcanal and educated at a mission school, he was a native constable before the war. A big man, particularly by Melanesian standards, he had a reputation for bucking authority and taking the law into his own hands. When the Allies began to suspect a Japanese buildup to the east, Vouza volunteered to go behind enemy lines to scout.

A marine had given him a tiny American flag as a souvenir, perhaps inspired Vouza's arrival at Henderson Field wrapped in the Union Jack. Vouza was on his way to a village to hide the flag, realizing that it might get him into trouble, but he was too late. He ran into a Japanese patrol on the way and was captured. When the Japanese found the US flag tucked into his loincloth, they interrogated him as a spy. Vouza was tied to a tree and questioned for hours. Though beaten and stabbed, he still refused to talk. At the end of it all, the Japanese officer slashed his throat with a katana and left him for dead.

But Vouza did not die. Weak from blood loss, he nonetheless managed to bite through his bonds and escape. He staggered back to the American lines, arriving either just before or just after the Japanese attack at Tenaru (accounts differ). He refused medical treatment until he could report on what he saw, relaying information on the Japanese strength and positions to Lt. Colonel Pollock and Coastwatcher Martin Clemens. His information would later enable the Allies' successful counter-attack.

Thinking he was dying, Vouza dictated a personal message for his family to Clemens. He then collapsed, and was taken to the field hospital. Just before surgery, he awakened long enough to tell Clemens: "I didn't tell them anything."

Amazingly, Vouza lived. He returned to his scouting duties a mere twelve days later, and continued to be an invaluable scout. For his courage under interrogation, American General Vandegrift awarded him the Silver Star, and he was knighted in 1957.

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