History of Wake Island

Controversy revolves around the tropical paradise of Wake Island, part of Eneen-Kio Atoll, the collection of three islands also known as Wake Atoll, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The island is claimed by both the United States and the Marshall Islands. It is further claimed as an independent sovereignty in the name of the Kingdom of EnenKio.

Wake Island

The World Factbook, published by the CIA, states that the 2.5-square-mile Wake Island has no arable land, no crops, no forests or woodland, no indigenous inhabitants.

The population consists (as of the latest record from January 2001) of only one US Army civilian and 123 civilian contractor personnel. The island is economically insignificant, as all food and manufactured goods must be imported.

There is no domestic or international telephone system, no radio service, no television broadcasting. There isn’t even a harbor. However, despite its lack of agriculture or an economy, the island is rich in historical significance, warranting a lengthy and subsequently fascinating lesson on the history of Wake Atoll.

Discovered by Spain

According to Theodore Leverett’s history of the island on the Flags of the World website, “Wake Island was first discovered by the Spaniard Álvaro de Mendana in 1586, who named it San Francisco and claimed it in the name of the King of Spain. This claim was internationally recognized, the atoll being viewed as worthless…

In 1796 the Englishman Captain Samuel Wake of the merchant vessel Prince William Henry rediscovered it. He gave the atoll its present name, also carried by its largest island… On December 20, 1840, the USS Vincennes brought the explorer Charles Wilkes and the naturalist Titian Peale to the island where they conducted a series of surveys and eventually lent their names to the other two islands of the atoll…

The Treaties of Paris and Washington

During the Spanish-American War, an American troop convoy bound for the Philippines (then owned by Spain) stopped off at Wake. Major General Francis V. Greene hoisted the Stars and Stripes, then with 45 stars, there on July 4, 1898… The subsequent peace treaty [signed with Spain in December 1898 and approved by the US Senate in February 1899] which ended the war transferred Wake to the United States.”

The Treaty of Paris, signed by officials from the United States of America and the Spanish Empire on December 10, 1898, relinquished all Spanish claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba, Puerto Rico, the island of Guam in the Marianas, all islands in the West Indies under Spanish sovereignty, and all islands within approximately 116 degrees and 127 degrees longitude east near and including the Philippine Island archipelago.

Concept and Diagram © Richard D. LeCour
Satellite Imagery © TerraMetrics

An amendment three years later (the Treaty of Washington) added several additional islands located southwest of the island chain of Palawan that had been omitted from the original treaty. No other specific islands or locations of any kind were mentioned.

Wake Island did not fall within the boundaries of either the Treaty of Paris of 1898 or the Treaty of Washington of 1900 as the atoll is located at approximately 166 degrees of longitude east of Greenwich.

This directly contradicts the common misconception that Wake Island was included in the spoils of war between the United States and Spain, as insisted upon by such historians as Stanley K. Schultz, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, but the language of both treaties is indisputable — neither of them include the tiny atoll 1,300 nautical miles east of Guam.

Wake as a US Military Base

However the island was acquired, the US Navy recognized the potential of Wake as a military base and contributed both materially and financially to the construction of Pan American facilities.

John Godfrey Borger
Photo © The Borger Family

The historical recollections of the original Pan American World Airways and the newsletter of The Pan Am Historical Foundation quote the then 21-year-old Junior Assistant Engineer for the S.S. North Haven, regarding the initial construction of the airbase.

“On March 27, 1935, the S.S. North Haven embarked from San Francisco for Honolulu, Midway, Wake, Guam, and Manila, to prepare bases for Pan Am’s flying boats to cross the Pacific. Wake was totally uninhabited; all we had on it were a hydrographic chart with no detail, and an article in National Geographic magazine…

We loaded into the ship 12 prefabricated buildings for Midway, and 12 for Wake. We loaded for each base two diesel engines to generate electricity, two windmills to pump water up and get water pressure, a Caterpillar tractor with interchangeable bulldozer blade and crane, and 4,000-gallon tanks for both aviation gas and water… On the deck we loaded two 38-foot power launches, one for Midway and one for Wake, and a 26-foot launch for Guam, intended for air-sea rescue…

Wake is made up of three islands. It’s true it was uninhabited except for birds; we had to wear hats. We’d planned to put the station on Wilkes Island, which is open to the sea, but the survey team found it was too low in the water. So was Wake Island. But Peale Island, on the far side of the lagoon, was okay. We unloaded the cargo into a storage yard on Wilkes Island, then built a 50-yard railroad (somebody by inspiration had brought light-gauge railroad track) to the lagoon. We put the small launch on a barge and, with the help of the tractor, we shoved it across the knee-deep channel between Wake and Wilkes. The launch towed the barges of cargo across the lagoon to Peale Island. Wake depended on rainfall for water, so we rigged canvases on the roofs, drained them into underground tanks, then pumped the water up to the windmills.

We had to clear the coral heads to provide a six-foot deep open landing area in the Wake lagoon for the M-130 to land. So we hung a length of a light-gauge railroad track six feet deep under a barge, and a launch towed the barge back and forth across the lagoon. When the track hit coral, it shook the barge, wakened the guy sleeping on it, and he threw a cork buoy with an anchor to mark the spot. Then Bill Mullahey and I, in a rowboat, rowed out to the buoys. Bill put on goggles he’d made out of bamboo, took a bamboo spear, and dove down and inspected the coral head… Bill surfaced and said, give me six, or eight, sticks of dynamite, dove back down and tied them to the coral. He resurfaced, I rowed us upwind as far as we could, and he pressed a magneto button and blew up the coral. We rowed back, picked up the fish the blast had killed, and brought them back for dinner. We did this [until] we cleared a pie-shaped landing area [where we] built a 400-foot dock.”

— John G. Borger

After the completion of the airbase and a 48-room hotel, Wake Island became one of the stopping points on regular Pan American flights for servicing and refueling of the famous “Pan Am Clippers”, four-engined flying boats. Pan American published a 24-page brochure in 1937 to promote the transpacific China Clipper service from San Francisco to Hawaii, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, Manila, and its final destination of Hong Kong.

“A tiny pinpoint on the vast Pacific’s map — five thousand miles from America’s mainland. A land unheard of until a few years ago — uninhabited, until the coming of the airway pioneers — became the scene of one of the most dramatic struggles in the history of American transportation. Here hardship, toil and thrilling courage overcame tremendous odds to set in final place four thousand tons of materials. Scarcely eight hours from Midway — another change in time — you are ashore in the early afternoon and the island is yours to explore… Down paths lined with magnolia are living quarters for the base staff, the power plant, the big refrigerators, a little hospital, a pergola where you will find an unusual collection of the little atoll’s lore – bits from ancient sailing craft that came to grief on the treacherous reefs that so effectively shelter the lagoon’s water for the flying clipper ships; heaps of coral in fantastic designs; sea shells of every form. Along the arcs of glistening beach you can find all these for yourself — and perhaps a dozen little hollow balls of glass — floats from Japanese fishing nets that have drifted half way across the Pacific…

Wake Island, so newly added to the world’s travel map, is already becoming a favorite vacation spot for travel-wise voyageurs. A beautiful, unspoiled land a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. A land reserved to those who fly, where every comfort and convenience, excellent food and expert attention are as much a part of your stay as the breath-taking sunsets, the soft thundering of the sea and its magnificent thirty-foot surf. Not soon can one forget these rainbow waters, soft deep sands, the friendly sun, the cool sweet trade winds blown from across the broadest sea.”

James W. Wensyel, in his article titled Odyssey Of The Wake Island Prisoners, states that the US Navy never lost sight of Wake Island’s military potential and turned the commercial airfield into a full-fledged defensive fortification, complete with 449 Marines, 71 Naval personnel, 5 Army radio operators, and 12 fixed-wing Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats fighter planes, all under the overall command of Commander Winfield S. Cunningham.

Japan Seizes Wake in World War II

“War with Japan was imminent, and an airstrip on Wake, about 2,000 miles west of Hawaii, would allow American heavy bombers to strike the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands. And, if Guam were lost to the Japanese, Wake would be one of the closest American outposts to the Japanese mainland… [Early on the morning of December 8, 1941,] at 8:50 the Marines raised the American flag on its staff, something Marines did every morning all over the world… Not long after the flag raising, 36 Japanese Mitsubishi G3M2 Nell bombers crossed Wake in three V-formations. Soon their fragmentation bombs, accompanied by a steady drumming of machine-gun fire, tore the island to pieces… Japanese land-based aircraft from Roi in the Marshalls, later joined by aircraft from approaching Japanese carriers, pounded the atoll day after day. Before each attack, a dwindling number of American Wildcat fighters rose to meet them.

At 3 a.m. on December 11, a Japanese invasion task force commanded by Rear Adm. Sadamichi Kajioka, consisting of a light cruiser, six destroyers, two troop carriers and two armed merchantmen, confidently approached Wake’s beaches. Marine gunners let them close to 4,500 yards before their 5-inch naval guns opened fire. Their patience was rewarded with the sinking of one Japanese destroyer and damaging of the cruiser and three additional destroyers.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy National Archives

Kajioka retreated, now knowing that Wake would not be taken without a fight. By the 21st, the last of the Wildcats had been destroyed in dogfights over the atoll… Japanese airplanes now roamed over the island at will, pounding American positions in preparation for a renewed attempt to seize the atoll.

In the dark, rain-swept early morning hours of December 23rd, Kajioka returned, his fleet bolstered by four heavy cruisers and various other warships, including landing craft, to assault Wake’s beaches with more than 900 well-trained infantrymen of the Special Naval Landing Force. At 2:35 a.m., the first Japanese landing barge ground ashore.

Soon a desperate battle was being fought across the atoll between groups of men fighting with rifles, bayonets, grenades and fists. The Americans fought hard, but more Japanese landed and pushed them toward the island’s center… Reports from the three islands were discouraging; there were simply too many Japanese and too few Americans… Cunningham, as the ranking officer, made the inevitable decision to surrender… Stunned defenders threw away rifle bolts, destroyed delicate range-finding instruments, drained hydraulic fluid from recoil cylinders and then surrendered. Eighty-one Marines, eight sailors and 82 civilian construction workers had been killed or wounded. The Japanese, however, paid a heavy price for their victory. The fight for Wake Island had cost them two destroyers and one submarine sunk, seven additional ships damaged, 21 aircraft shot down and almost 1,000 men killed.

Enraged by their losses, the Japanese treated their prisoners — military and civilian — brutally. Some were stripped naked, others to their underwear. Most had their hands tied behind their backs with telephone wire, with a second wire looped tightly from their necks to their wrists so that if they lowered their arms they would strangle themselves… The prisoners were then jammed into two suffocating concrete ammunition bunkers. Later they were herded to the airstrip and made to sit, naked, on the blistering hot concrete. When the Japanese set up machine guns nearby, most of the prisoners expected to be executed. That night, bone-chilling winds replaced the heat. The prisoners sat there, still waiting for food, water or medical treatment. The unfortunate prisoners remained sitting on the airstrip for two days. Finally, they were given food, much of it spoiled by the heat, and water, contaminated from being placed in unclean gasoline drums. Piles of assorted clothing seized earlier were placed before them… After returning his prisoners’ clothes, Kajioka, resplendent in white dress uniform and gleaming samurai sword, read a proclamation to the assembled prisoners. When he concluded, a Japanese interpreter informed the Americans that ‘the Emperor has graciously presented you with your lives.'”

After World War II

The defense of Wake was testimony to the valor and professionalism of the Marine garrison and its officers, December 11th being the only successful thwarting of an attempted amphibious landing by enemy forces in the Pacific throughout the war. The tale of the heroic battle for Wake Island inspired American soldiers worldwide. Almost four long years later, World War II ended, the prisoners were released, and control of the island was returned to the United States by the Japanese.

After a 7000-foot runway was paved over the existing coral runway in 1949, the island base also played a key role as a refueling stop for aircraft during the Korean War. And, as a result of the foresighted runway lengthening in 1959 to 9800 feet, the island was able to participate in Desert Storm in 1991, once again as a fueling station. Today, the former commercial airbase is used primarily by the US Army Space and Strategic Defense Command and for emergency landings of trans-Pacific flights. There are over 700 landings a year on the island.

An understanding of the history of Wake Island is fundamental for understanding the claims made by the Marshall Islands and the Kingdom of EnenKio.

229 Responses to “History of Wake Island”

  1. Linda K

    Hi, I have a friend who was born on Wake Island and is having a hard time getting a copy of her birth certificate. Do any of you know where the birth certificates for babies are kept that were born on Wake island in the late 60’s? We have tried Hawaii and Guam to no avail.

    Sounds like it was a wonderful place to grow up!

    Thank you!

    Linda K

    • Andy Rimorin

      Hey Linda K,
      My mom and dad worked for Trans Ocean.
      Did your friend get her birth certificate and where?
      I thought I was the only birth. December 1 1963.
      Most curious how many of us are out there?
      Anyone want to contact me, my Facebook account is public.

      • Linda K

        Hey Andy,

        Actually she was one of the Vietnamese babies born on the island after being evacuated from Vietnam in 1975. She is trying to find out where the birth certificates from the island are, she only has military papers and their record of birth.

        thanks Linda

        • Clem Monge

          My wife and I were involved assisting the people from Vietnam who came to Guam (we were on Guam 1973-1977). The FAA Area Manager and some other Government organization were keeping records of transferees from Guam to other locations. If your friend’s journey was through Guam chances are that the Department of the Interior or the FAA in DC might be able to help. You can call the Public Affairs FAA Office.
          Clem Monge

  2. Tom Beard

    I am researching for a story about a typhoon evacation that occured in 1966 or 1967 where the initial flight out was about 90 women and children in a Coast Guard C-130 to Honolulu via Midway. ‘Anyone reading this involved and can describe that flight?

    My wife and I sailed into Wake in the late 1980s and had one of the most memorable experiences of our lives living on the island for a couple of weeks while getting our sailboat repaired. We still have a jar of Wake Island honey. How rare is this? Tom

  3. Alan Maxted

    Looking for any information regarding my father (Philip Maxted) and my mother (Mary Eleanor Maxted) during the time period 1951-1952. We evacuated in September 52′ after typhoon Olive. I was only 6 months old at the time and wanted to know more about them during their time on the island. Anyone with any info please, please pass it on to me. ajmnd@yahoo.com

  4. Larry Clifford

    On September 6, 1967, the tanker E. C. Stoner foundered on the reef off the harbor entrance at Wake Island. During the following 10 days the vessel’s cargo of over 22,000 k-liters(6 million gal) of high octane aviation gasoline, aviation jet fuel, aviation turbine fuel, diesel oil, and bunker C black oil was spilled along the southern coast of the island.

    The first ship to reach the floundered Stoner was the U.S.S. Mataco, ATF 86, 8 men were swnt over from the Mataco including QM Larry Clifford. Attempts were made to retrieve a throw line, with which to winch a larger line, and thense a tow cable, but huge swells from the approaching Typhoon Sarah aborted the attempt and also prevented the Mataco from retriving Clifford and the work party who were forced to ride out the typhoon aboard the gounded and listing tanker. “Av-gas was shooting 20 feet in the air at times,” Clifford recalls. “We slept what few minutes we could outside on deck chairs, wearing lifejackets with our arms clutching stacks of life rings we had gathered and tied together, It was a very unplesant night without sleep. The worst of the storm passed over during the late evening from midnight to about three A.M., then we were reached by a landing craft from Wake and treated wonderfully by the Air Force to great food in the mess hall, and a nice place to rest in a quanset hut. I enjoyed the rest of my short stay.

  5. Jan Weiler Asai

    My sister found this site after we were talking about the possibility of going back to Wake for a visit. Is it possible? Jan Weiler Asai (Wake 63-65)

  6. Richard White

    Hi Folks, I am trying to revive The Wake Island Spirit. We are planning a reunion in Las Vegas next year, 2012, in either Sept. or Oct. Details have not been finalized but we need you to join us if you ever lived or worked on Wake Island, made stopovers or just loved the Island as we all do. We have great fun at the reunions and have people from all different eras to join us. If you are interested in becoming a member of the new Wake Island Spirit then please e-mail Richard White at: rjwhite222@yahoo.com. We would love to have you. We need any e-mail addresses you may have so that we may get in contact with them with the complete information on the reunion.

  7. Kathleen Ritz Bernier

    I happened upon this site after my mother told me she received a call informing her of the upcoming reunion in Las Vegas later this year. My family lived on Wake from the late 60’s to early 70’s. I saw many familiar names while reading through the comments, Thora Mae Beatty, Ronnie Blanton, Bryan Dyba (I was friends with his sister Mary Kay) and of course Eugene Delenia. We left Wake and moved to Guam when I “outgrew” the school in the early 70’s. How fortunate to have lived in such a beautiful and historic location. How many kids can say they used to play in World War 2 bunkers or stood at the edge of a reef at low tide and stare down into the abyss? It has for many years been my dream to return to Wake for a visit.

  8. Richard White

    I want to remind all of you of the potential reunion in Las Vegas in Oct. 2012.

    This is the Wake Island Spirit Reunion and each of you are welcome to become members and attend the reunion of ex-Wake Islanders and current Wake Islanders. We want all of you to come. Eugenia Delenia originated the Wake Island Spirit several years ago and had many Wake Island Reunions. However all of his sites have expired and due to many personal obligations has not been able to deal with the Spirit for several years and our data base of e-mail addresses and phone numbers have really gone down. I am trying to start it over again from rock bottom and need each of you and anyone who has ever worked on Wake Island, been a dependent on Wake Island or just love Wake Island as all of us do to join the Spirit. We have two web pages that are just in the very beginning but have some great history and great pictures up at this time. One web site is: http://www.wakeislandspirit.com and the other is: http://www.Spiritofwakeisland.com. The first was put up by Ken Samuels and the latter by Ron Skates. You can register and sign in and navigate the site. Much more will be put up on these sites as time goes by. Again, if you have any interest in becoming a free member of The Wake Island Spirit and attending the Spirit reunion in Las Vegas in Oct., 2012 then plese contact me, Richard White, at: rjwhite222@yahoo.com for full information. Hope to hear from many of you.


  9. Jackie Baston

    I was stationed on Wake with the Air Force from 1968 to 1969. I too was a broadcaster on KEAD 1490 Wake Island. My buddie Ted Puttan broadcast the 6 pm news (like Chet Huntly and David Brinkly would do it, or so we thought). On Sundays (when I wasn’t on shift duty in the Comm Center in the terminal) I also had a Country and Western show. I was with the 1957th Communications Group. Our job(s) there was to report all incoming and outgoing aircraft. For this effort our unit received a Meritorious Unit Commendation from the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force Pacific for supporting NASA’s Apollo manned space-flight operation in the Pacific Area from 1 July 1967 to 26 July 1969. Little did I know then that I would wind up working at the Johnson Space Center for 30 plus years. Now, I am back on the radio again! I am on KACC 89.7 FM in Alvin, Texas.

    If you want to hear us, we are on streaming audio on the internet at http://www.kaccradio.com. Drop in and give a listen. I am known there as Jackie C of KACC!.

  10. Eugene carpentieri

    I was ona flight to viet nam in january 1967 when we had to make an emergency landing on wake one gi died. We were there for on week because our eardrums ruptured. I cannot find anything about this flight. The flight was at nite around the middle of Jan. The plane was loaded with people going to Viet nam.

  11. Ron Hays

    Hello All, we are researching the Murder of George Fitzgerald in the following message posted by his daughter Linda (Fitzgerald) Frederick , if you have any info please contact us here or on our facebook page “Wake Island club” Thanks!

    Hi all,

    I am also a past resident of Wake. I was there as a child (5-10 yrs old) in 1955-1960. I remember some of the names Leonard mentioned above. I also had Mii Panui as a teacher. My Mom and Dad were Marion and George Fitzgerald. My dad went mostly by Bud or Fitz. He was assistant Island Manager under Mr Munson? I think was his name. My dad was killed there in Sept 1960 at the PX when he went to answer a call for a bar fight. I have a picture of a plaque that was placed at the flagpole the following Memorial Day and a copy of the speech given that day. As I was kind of young at the time I only remember a few names and most have been previously mentioned. My best friend there was BeBe. My brothers also were there Lee and Pat Fitzgerald who were younger than me. I have noticed a few older post talking about a reunion type thing or maybe finding out if we could all return for a visit. I have had a life long dream of returning there before I die as my time there was the best of my life. It was a simpler time and way of life. I also have a few pics from there

  12. Richard White

    I have been told that this site has been shut down for some reasons. If not, I would like to remind all of you of the latest Wake Island Reunion. Just about all of you that have made comments on this site are eligible. If you have ever worked on Wake as a Civilian or military, were a dependent, or just plain out loved Wake Island then you are eligible. The Wake Island Spirit Reunion will be held this year, 2012, from Sept. 19 through Sept. 22, 2012 in Las Vegas at the totally remodeled Riviera Hotel on the strip. The rates are very good and the company will be great along with DVDs being shown from all eras of the Island up to and including the current situation. Many photos and lots of momentoes will be on display in our hospitality room. I am the organizer of this reunion. Eugenia Delenia did such a great job of getting the spirit started and carried it on for many succesful years with many great reunions. Regretfully, Eugene had some personnel issues come up right before the Branson, MO reunion and dropped out of the Spirit. I am rebuilding it with all of your help. Contact me, Richard White, at: rjwhite222@yahoo.com for the very latest information on the reunion. Act now as the reunion is only 6 months away. Thanks to all of you for your great and kind comments about Wake Island, the heaven that not many know about.

  13. Monroe Broadway

    I was a loadmaster on C-124 Globemaster out of MCChord 1955-1959 and Travis 1950-60. Spent quite a bit of time passing through Wake. I especially remember the metal quanset huts in Taloa Village. There was a sunken schooner just beyond the lagoon that disappeared shortly after that.

    There were old Japanese tanks and fuel trucks that were just dozed into the scrap piles. Abandoned 50 calibers (not sure whose they were) were still pointing out to sea but covered with vines and shubbery.

    The chow hall was run by the airlines and had a silver torpedo with red fins and nose just outside the entrance… Lots of memories. Thanks for the great info.

  14. Forrest Sherrill

    Flew as navigator on a Navy RA-5C Vigilante ferrying one from Florida to the USS Ranger in the South China Sea. December of 1964. We landed on Wake and spent the night there. Anyone out there remember seeing our beautiful bird on December 18/19, 1964?

  15. Mark Seidenberg

    It was on 30 December 1898 that Captain Calvin L. Hooper, U.S.R.C.S. issue the sua sponte order to Commander David Taussig, U.S.N. to annex Wake Island. The orders were issued in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Commander Taussig carried out those orders at 3:22 p.m. on 17 January 1899.

    The reason for those orders were that the prior attempts to annex Wake Island was not effective in the
    view of Captain Hooper. Since the President nor the Department of War had issued any orders to annex Wake Island.

    Captain Hooper recalled how he issued on 12 August 1881 the sua sponte orders to annex New Columbia Land in the Polar Sea for the United States in the name of President James Garfield.
    After the annexation by 3rd Lt. William Edward Reynolds, U.S.R.M., Major Ezra W. Clark, Chief,
    United States Revenue Marines (an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury),
    on authority from an Act of Congress dated 17 May 1884, placed the islands of Bennett, Henrietta,
    Herald, Jeanette, and Wrangell all located in the Polar Sea to the North of Siberia in the District
    of Alaska. Alaska was upgraded to a Territory of the United States in the year 1912. Alaska became
    the 49th State in 1959.

    Wake Island was never a “Territory” of the United States, in the sense that the constitution was fully
    extended to it. As I currently understand it, persons born on Wake Island do not fall in a class of persons that were subject to any naturalization act of the United States. Question, are persons born
    on Wake Island “stateless”? I know that persons were looking for birth certificates that were born on
    Wake Island in the above posts.

    I recall the former wife of a friend was born on Midway Atoll in the Pacific and the State of Hawai’i would
    issue birth certificates for persons born on Midway Atoll, even though Midway Atoll was not part of Hawai’i.

    That issue came up during the “birther” lawsuits over the fact that Obama had a Hawai’i Birth Certificate
    and was not born there.

    I am informed that it was on 4 July 1898, that the first attempt to annex Wake Atoll came from a landing
    party of officers lead by Brig. General Francis V. Greene, U.S.V. from the ship S.S. China. Does any
    one have the complete or part of the list of that landing party with General Greene? If so please post.

    It is also my understanding that the 2nd attempt to annex Wake Atoll came from a landing party that
    did include more than just officers. The leader of this landing party was Major General Merritt, U.S.A.
    He to had no orders to annex Wake Island either. That landing party came from the U.S.A.T. Thomas,

    It is also my understanding the State Department has got the Department of War to “deep six” the
    logbooks of both the S.S. China and U.S.A.T. Thomas, during World War II. Because of some issue
    with Japan. Has any one located the Logbooks of both the U.S.A.T. Thomas and/or S. S. China?
    If so where are they? They will show that no one in Washington, DC, gave an order to annex Wake Atoll
    in 1898.

  16. Jon P Smith

    Hi I was stationed on wake Island Sept. 1960 to sept 1961 in the USCG I was at the loran station on pearl Island. I would really like to once again visit the Island. I was
    EN2 and enjoyed my year there.
    we had a water ski boat skied everyday, our work hours were 7:30 to 11:30 monday thru friday great duty.

  17. Tony Dimapilis

    Accidentally came across of this website while searching for my previous employer, Facilities Management Corporation. Very good and informative site. Lots of memories after working at Wake Island from Jul 1969 to Sep 1974, with FMC and also as a part-timer at Bank of Hawaii with Mrs. Betty Skates until its closure on Sep 1974. Moved to the Republic of Nauru in 1975 with Mr. Tom Skates “The Cowboy Man” as he was known here. After 40 years am still here.
    Thank you for the site.

    • arturo

      hi, my name is artur. i also work in wake island from 1967 to 1972. i don’t remember if i met you. i was an aircraft mechanic that time. I quit there and went to Iran to work for Iran air and then came here to USA in 1987 and work for Northwest airlines. I am now retired and live here in Michigan. nice to meet you.

  18. Rosalind (Rothwell) DeBusca

    I am 72 years old. I lived on Wake Island in 1955 -1956. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. It was beautiful. I do not remember a lot of people, but I do remember the Harringtons, Al, David, Walter, Orville, and there were two sisters also. I remember a James Barrigan (not sure of spelling) and a girl with the last name of Hong who used to wash and cook rice everyday for her family. I remember a wonderfully kind Polynesian man who drove a flat-bed truck and would pick up anyone on his way to the most wonderful swimming area between Wake and Peale. I jumped off the bridge that was there. I learned to drive a very rusted beat up yellow jeep. I went to the outdoor movies almost every night with the concrete blocks for pillows. My parents were Tom (stepfather) and Pearl Robinson. He was a CAA air traffic controller. We lived in a duplex, I think it was wooden, not the newer block tile homes. I remember the couple who lived next door; names were Ed and Francis. I think Francis died years later on Oahu in a terrible traffic accident. I got to see the World Series Champs NY Yankees on their way to Japan. And I sight I will never forget (being that I loved airplanes) , a B52 Bomber that had made an emergency landing, was repaired and when had the whole population of the Island holding our breath to see if the runway was really long enough for it to take off. It was good times, wonderful place for a kid. My mother hated it. Nothing to do. I was such a tom-boy and loved every minute there. Probably not many people left out there my age that were there in 55 and 56 but would love help with refreshing my memory.

  19. Peter (Ming) Leung

    I was stationed on Wake Island Oct. 1960 to Apr. 1961 with the USAF worked midnight to 8AM. at the USAF Comm. Center by the flight terminal. Made many friends during my 6 months there. Standard Oil fueling crew Wayne, Dan & Dave, Pan Am Jet Maintenance crew Herb who taught me how to water ski with another FAA dependent girl who’s name I cannot recall and also introduced me to other Pan Am folks, Mr. Hyun of FAA for his hospitality and the use his motor scooter for transportation while I was there and the USCG guys that helped me to get the motor scooter looking and running good. I spent my 20th Birthday there and Herb made it a memorable one at the Pan Am club.
    In retrospect that was one the best times of my 74 year life.

  20. Jon Dunn

    I was on Wake Island in 1970-72. I was about 11-12 years old at the time. My father, Gordon Dunn, was an electronic technician for the FAA and worked in the air traffic control tower complex. We lived on Pacific Avenue about 2 blocks from the school. I do remember Mr Snodgrass, but I don’t remember Mrs. White, sorry. I vividly remember seeing the first Pan Am 747 landing and taking off from the island as well as the first C5A that landed on the island. Also I have fond memories of the Windy Theater (between this and the Air Force base theater, it was a weekly event), the 3 hole golf course, playing shuffleboard in the FAA club, the bowling alley, playing softball. As a Boy Scout, we camped frequently on Peale Island, it was a wonderful thing to “discover” the 8 inch coastal defense gun on the island. I was home and watched as the beach homes were burned out, cut in half, filled with sand and coral and converted into barriers for high surf. I spent a lot of time watching the airplanes come and go, why I never got into aviation is a mystery. I was looking for information about Bob Hope’s stop in Wake Island in 1971 that lead me to this website and am happy to leave my comments and memories of a place long ago and far away. Thank You.


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