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    Palmyra Island Unorganized Incorporated Territory United States

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c2002

Location
Lat 5° 53′ 0″ N Long 162° 5′ 0″ W  Palmyra Island is located in Palmyra Atoll. Part of the Line Islands. Located 352 nautical miles north of the equator. It is about 120 miles northwestward of Washington Island, 200 miles northwest of Fanning Island, 33 miles southeastward of Kingman Reef, and 960 miles southwest of Oahu.

History
On August 19, 1922, Leslie and Ellen Fullard-Leo, of Honolulu, acquired title from Judge Cooper to all except two isles. After the death of Judge Cooper, May 14, 1929, title to these two, known as Home Islets, passed to his heirs.

Wartime History
In the late 1930s, Palmyra Atoll was declared a U.S. Naval defense area, and all foreign public and private vessels and planes were prohibited. The 76th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) dredged a channel during the war so larger ships could enter the protected lagoons and bulldozed coral rubble into a long, unpaved landing strip for refueling transpacific aircraft.

Today
By the time the war ended the military was reluctant to lose its mid-ocean depot. The Fullard-Leos spent years fighting for Palmyra's return. The U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled in 1947 that they had title.  The property remained in the hands of this family until the year 2000. There had been many offers to buy the island from people who wanted to turn it into something useful such as a big resort, an offshore bank, a commercial fish processing plant and an equatorial launch site for missiles and satellites. Twenty years ago there were howls of outrage when the U.S. Government sent a team of inspectors to scout the atoll as a possible site to store nuclear waste. All these were rejected as the Fullard-Leos chose to leave Palmyra exactly as it was. Today, The Nature Conservancy concluded years of negotiations and finally took title to Palmyra for $30 million dollars. Today, part of the Unorganized Incorporated Territory of the United States.

Palmyra Field (Lowe Field)
Built by US Navy prewar, used on the ferry route to the South Pacific.

PBJ-1D Mitchell Bureau Number 35114
Pilot Sieben MIA August 6, 1943

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Last Updated
January 8, 2014

 

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