“My plan, as impossible as it seemed, was to get near a Japanese emplacement, bunker, or cave, and tell them that I had a bunch of Marines with me and we were ready to kill them if they did not surrender,” he wrote in his 1990 memoir “Saipan: Suicide Island.”
“I promised that they would be treated with dignity, and that we would make sure that they were taken back to Japan after the war,” he wrote.
The 5-foot-4-inch Gabaldon used piecemeal Japanese he picked up from a childhood friend to earn the trust of the enemy, who believed his story of hundreds of looming troops. In a single day in July 1944, Gabaldon was said to have gotten about 800 Japanese soldiers to follow him back to the American camp.
His exploits earned him the nickname the Pied Piper of Saipan.