69 years ago today, the gallant defenders of Wake Island surrendered to a numerically superior Japanese force.
This wartime poster depicts Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion manning an M1917A1 machine gun during the defense of Wake Island in December 1941. USMC Poster.
Posted by NHHC in Marine Corps, World War II
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I have been very lucky to have spent time over multiplenTrans-Pacs at Wake Island. From the ruins of the old Pan-Am base, to “POW Rock,” to the slowly rusting guns the Japanese emplaced and the un-used housing from it’s heyday as a main USAF base, it is a place for quiet contemplation. The main terminal building now houses an excellent small museum that gives the stop-over visitor a good sense of the epic heroism that imbued this small ring of islands with it’s aura. I long to return some day, stay a week and walk it’s shores once more.
As retired military (Army), I have forwarded extensive documentation and research to JPAC in 2009 and 2010 regarding remains not recovered from Wake post war. Still waiting to see if they put Wake on their “to do” list. I strongly feel that the remains of 100 to 120 of the 178 dead were not searched for or recovered when the war ended. From time to time they still find remains during construction work which cannot be identified.
The Wake defenders, military and civilian, had grit. True Americans who have an eternal place in American History.
The battle for Wake Island could have turned into a real showdown if Admiral Pye, the interim CIC Pacific, had not recalled the relief force, built around carriers Lexington and Saratoga, just as they were poised to pounce on the Japanese invasion force. It could have been a bloodbath or it could have been a smashing victory. We’ll never know.
a controversial decision that lingers today. Thanks as always for your comments
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