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    Mili Atoll (Mille)  Marshall Islands
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7th AF c1944

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USN 1944

Lat 6° 7' 60N Long 171° 55' 0E   Mili Atoll has the largest land area of the Marshall Islands, second only to Kwajalein. Nearby is Knox Island. Also known as "Mille". Prewar, Mili was considered part of Caroline Islands.

Wartime History
Mili Island was small lookout post, radio direction finding station and weather station. During late 1942, the Japanese began developing an airfield on the island, using Korean and Marshallese labor force. At its height, the garrison included 5,100 Japanese including 2,600 Navy and 2,500 Army. The base lacked any large concrete structures, such as command buildings, power stations or bunkers.

The perimeter of Milli Island, especially the ocean side, bristled with guns, which were a mixture of British and Japanese manufacture: 8 6" and 3 x 14cm coastal defense guns, 4 x 127mm dual purpose guns, 2 x 10cm mortars, 35 heavy and over 70 light anti-aircraft guns as well as an assortment of small arms.

During late November 1943 "Operation Galvanic" USS Plunger SS-179 performed lifeguard duty off Mili and rescued Lt(jg) F. G. Schwartz near Knox Island.

By 1943, supply lines to Mili were cut off, and the Japanese garrison was left to starve. Over eighteen months, Mili was the target of US aircraft. The garrison of 5,100 Japanese (2,600 Navy and 2,500 Army,) only 2,500 (50%) survived. Casualties occurred from air raids, diseases, accidents, and suicides, but mainly from starvation.

American missions against Mili
June 17, 1943 - August 30, 1944

On August 22, 1945, the Japanese garrison on Mili was the Pacific island to surrender, eleven days before the formal surrender of Japan.

Mili Airfield
Built by the Japanese, still in use today for local air service.

P-39Q Airacobra 42-19469
Pilot Empey crashed January 16, 1944

B-25D Mitchell 41-30613
Pilot Johnston Shot down January 19, 1944

SBD-5 Dauntless 36540
Pilot Sparrow MIA March 18, 1944

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Last Updated
August 25, 2018


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