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    Wake Island United States Minor Outlying Islands United States
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USN February 24, 1942

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Kirby Crawford 1967

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USN 2000

Location
Wake Island is the largest island in Wake Atoll, connected by causeway to Peale Island and Wilkes Island.

Prewar
Prior to the start of the Pacific War, developed with defense and Wake Island Airfield was constructed by Morrison-Knudsen Company, one of of eight construction companies that formed the Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases (CPNB).

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941 Japanese aircraft attacked Wake Island. On December 8, 1941 a Japanese invasion force departed Kwajalien arriving off Wake Island on December 11, 1942 the Japanese attempted a landing but were repulsed with the loss of Kisaragi and Hayate and damage to Yayoi and landing was aborted.

On December 23, 1941 during the early morning hours, the second Japanese invasion force arrived off Wake and the Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) made an amphibious landing. After a short battle, the Americans surrendered and 1,603 Americans become Prisoners Of War (POWs). Among them were 1,150 civilian contractors employed by Morrison-Knudsen Company / Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases (CPNB).

Japanese missions against Wake Island
December 8–23, 1941

During the Japanese occupation, Wake Island was renamed "Otorishima". On June 26, 1943, the first American bombing mission against Wake was flown by four B-24. USS Yorktown aircraft attacked on October 5, 1943. After these air raids, Japanese commander Admiral Sakaibara saw these air raids as an indication that an invasion was imminent. He ordered the execution of the 98 American prisoners "to eliminate any threat they might pose". No American landing was ever attempted but U. S. aircraft attacked Wake Island until the end of the Pacific War.

American missions against Wake Island
February 14, 1942 – August 6, 1945

Today
The U. S. Coast Guard (USCG) maintained a station on Wake Island. During July 1969, Japanese chemical weapons in canisters began leaking a poison gase, reportedly chloropicrin that resulted in several USCG personnel to be evacuated.

Wake Island Airfield
Runs the length of the island, built by civilian contractors. Occupied by the Japanese until the end of the war.

"98" Rock
The "98 rock", a large piece of coral standing in the lagoon inscribed "98/U.S./P.W/5-10-43", a message carved by one of the 98 POW's later executed on Wake Island.

Command Posts and Fortifications
Other significant remains include USMC command post and hospital bunkers, and the Japanese command post bunker. Numerous Japanese pillboxes, fighting positions, tank traps and aircraft revetments remain on the island.

References
New York Times "A Mysterious Irritant Forced Evacuation of Island in Pacific" July 4, 1969
"In July of 1969 'Japanese WWII' canisters began leaking gas, reportedly containing chloropicrin. Several members of the US Coast Guard station there were sickened by the gas and the area was evacuated."
YouTube - Wake Island driving/walking tour (October 2015)

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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