Wake Island

I M A G I N E:

A time machine transporting you back into 1941!

First stop – Wake Island 19° 18′ 0″ N, 166° 38′ 0″ E – a tiny coral atoll 2300 miles west of Hawaii named after Captain William Wake from the British Empire. You are aboard a Pan Am Clipper ship – the sun is shining on the 130-foot wingspan – call sign the “China Clipper”. ( A Martin Aircraft M-130)

PLOOOOSH ! Your plane’s platoons gently set down in a crystal clear tropical lagoon protected by coral reefs. You have flashed over the international dateline after departing Midway Island eight hours earlier. Your clipper ship taxis to Pam Am Island where you disembark on a dock in front of the Pan Am Hotel for a rest prior to refueling and going on to Manila or in many cases a vacation filled with diving, fishing and golf. Aboard your aircraft are 14 passengers, among them an Army Air Corps Colonel assigned to General MacArthur’s staff in the Philippines, businessmen as well as affluent people on a holiday. All, indeed, stopping at a small slice of tropical paradise made priceless by three factors.

Location Location & Location

Transitioning by air or water refueling and rest would all have been improbable without this tiny atoll wisely claimed by the United States in 1899.

This is precisely why the Empire of Japan made it their second surprise strike at the same time they struck Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The Japanese navy gave this mid pacific atoll high priority. They believed they could seize it in a day or two. The Japanese planners over looked one compelling factor. The First Marine Defense Battalion defended this critical post in the mid Pacific. The Marine Corps charged the enemy a heavy price for this miscalculation during the next fifteen days. Two dozen of their airplanes were shot down, two destroyers and one submarine sank and nearly one thousand invading soldiers killed in action. (52 United States Marine Corps casualties)

On 23rd of December 1941 Marines had just killed over 50 invading Japanese troops and had two prisoners tied to a tree, when they saw a Japanese Navy officer along with Commander Winfield Cunningham marching up with a white flag of surrender. They mistakenly believed the Japanese had surrendered. These Leathernecks had crushed at various beaches on the atoll every landing attempted by the Japanese. Sadly, faced with no reinforcements and supplies, the navy commanding officer had decided to surrender the island. The Marines were stripped naked, their hands tied with wire behind their backs and marched to a spot of execution. A Japanese Officer halted it and sent them and most of the civilian workers to slave labor camps in China and Japan. Later in 1943 Admiral Sakaibara ordered 98 remaining civilian workers executed. After the Marine Corps returned to the Wake Admiral Sakaibara was tried and hung as a war criminal.

The first Marine Medal of Honor of WW II was awarded to Captain Hank Elrod, VMF-211 posthumously for having shot down two Japanese Zero fighters, sunk a Japanese Destroyer, landed his crippled F4 Wildcat fighter back at Wake and died fighting the invasion as an infantry Marine.

Now 2010 back to today’s Time Machine :

This past week our Air Force’s Pacific Command General Gary North, a gentleman from Virginia, invited this writer and a three other community leaders to join him on an air force C 17 transport supply plane to Wake. Where the Air Force commander Major Aaron Wilt hosted a jammed packed inspection of the facilities including a visit to the historical spots on the Island. The civilian/ contract side of the Island is under the direction of a United States Marine Corps Veteran Wayne White. This Wake Island project manager respects the awesome history of Wake Island Leathernecks and manages to keep all facilities in fine shape for the U.S. Air Force’s critical missions at Wake, which range from refueling to missile and radar defense of the Pacific Command. This 2.9 square mile rock in the middle of the world’s largest ocean is an outstanding representation of our Air Force’s commitment and the dedicated project personnel who sacrifice much to serve America’s interest in the Pacific.

Bravo Zulu Wake Island !

aloha & mahalo Kathleen
and S/Fi to General Gregson for my first time on the Tarmac at Wake – enroute to the 60th at Iwo Jima

From: Patrick Brent

This past week our Air Force’s Pacific Command General Gary North, a
gentleman from Virginia, invited this writer and a three other
community leaders to join him on an air force C 17 transport supply
plane to Wake. Where the Air Force commander Major Aaron Wilt hosted a
jammed packed inspection of the facilities including a visit to the
historical spots on the Island. The civilian/ contract side of the
Island is under the direction of a United States Marine Corps Veteran
Wayne White. This Wake Island project manager respects the awesome
history of Wake Island Leathernecks and manages to keep all facilities
in fine shape for the U.S. Air Force?s critical missions at Wake, which
range from refueling to missile and radar defense of the Pacific
Command. This 2.9 square mile rock in the middle of the world’s
largest ocean is an outstanding representation of our Air Force’s
commitment and the dedicated project personnel who sacrifice much to
serve America’s interest in the Pacific. B Z

by Mr. Leslie Demarest Enderton, Executive Director, Oahu Visitors and father of an infantry Marine / scout sniper captured this outstanding shot of the USMC memorial at Wake Island.
OOO RRAH Les!
wake-island-marines-culp_lo

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