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    Howland Island Minor Outlying Island United States

Location
Lat 0°48′07″N Long 176°38′3″W. Howland Island is a coral island north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean. The nearest island is Baker Island located 68km to the south. Honolulu is roughly 1,670 nautical miles to the northeast. Howland is part of the United States Minor Outlying Islands, though sometimes grouped with the Phoenix Islands.

Prewar History
Howland Island was colonized in 1935 with a single settlement named Itascatown. Also to build a landing area known as Kamakaiwi Airfield, in anticipation that Howland Island might eventually be used as a stop-over for the commercial trans-Pacific air route. Also, the settlement would help to solidify U.S. territorial claims for the island.

On July 2, 1937 Amelia Earhart took off from Lae Airfield bound for Kamakaiwi Airfield, but never reached her destination.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War, four American colonists were on Howland Island.

On December 8, 1941 Japanese twin engined aircraft bombed the island and destroyed the buildings of Itascatown. Two days later, a Japanese submarine surfaced and shelled Howland. On two other occasions later in December 1941, a single Japanese aircraft bombed the island.

Japanese missions against Howland
December 1941

On January 31, 1942 the two survivors were finally evacuated by a U. S. Navy destroyer. During September 1943, Howland was occupied by a U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) battalion. After 1944, American attempts at habitation were abandoned.

Today
Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the 455 acre and the surrounding 32,074 acres of submerged land. The island is visited every two years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kamakaiwi Airfield
Built in the 1930s, damaged during the war

Earhart Light
Located at the center of the island on the west coast. This navigational landmark was built prior to the war and was named "Earhart Light" in honor of Amelia Earhart who was lost attempting to fly to the island. Damaged during the war, it was rebuilt in the 1960s by the US Coast Guard, but in recent years has also fallen into disrepair.

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Last Updated
January 11, 2018

 

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