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Wake Island
Wake Island map.png
Map of Wake
Geography
LocationWakeIsland.png
Location North Pacific
Coordinates 19°18′N 166°38′E / 19.3°N 166.633°E / 19.3; 166.633Coordinates: 19°18′N 166°38′E / 19.3°N 166.633°E / 19.3; 166.633
Total islands 3
Area 2.85 sq.mi. (7.37 km²)
Coastline Wake Atoll: 21.0 mi (33.8 km)
Wake Islet: 12.0 mi (19.3 km)
Highest point Ducks Point, 20 feet (6 m) ()
Country
United States United States

island is under the administration of the
Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force

Wake Island (also known as Wake Atoll, pronounced /ˈweɪk/) is a coral atoll having a coastline of 12 miles (19 kilometers) in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu (2,300 statute miles or 3,700 km west) to Guam (1,510 miles or 2,430 km east). It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Access to the island is restricted, and all current activities on the island are managed by the United States Air Force. There is also a missile facility operated by the United States Army. The largest island (Wake Island) is the center of activity on the atoll and has a 9,800 foot (3,000 m) runway.

For statistical purposes, Wake is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

Contents

Geography

Aerial overview of the atoll

Wake is located to the west of the International Date Line and is one day ahead of the 50 states.

Although Wake is officially called an island in the singular form, it is actually an atoll comprising three islands surrounding a central lagoon:[1]

Island acres hectares
Wake Islet 1,367.04 553.22
Wilkes Islet 197.44 79.90
Peale Islet 256.83 103.94
Wake Island 1,821.31 737.06
Lagoon (water) 1,480 600
Sand Flat 910 370

Referring to the atoll as an island is the result of a pre-World War II desire by the United States Navy to distinguish Wake from other atolls, most of which were Japanese territory.

Climate

Wake Island lies in the tropical zone but is subject to periodic temperate storms during the winter. Sea surface temperatures are warm all year long, reaching above 80 °F (27 °C) in summer and fall. Typhoons occasionally pass over the island.

Typhoon Ioke

On August 28, 2006, the United States Air Force evacuated all 188 residents and suspended all operations as category 5 Super Typhoon Ioke headed toward Wake. By August 31, the southwestern eyewall of the storm passed over the island, with winds well over 185 miles per hour (298 km/h),[2] driving a 20 ft (6 m) storm surge and waves directly into the lagoon inflicting major damage.[3] A US Air Force assessment and repair team returned to the island in September 2006 and restored limited function to the airfield and facilities leading ultimately to a full return to normal operations.

Typhoon Sarah

On September 16, 1967, at 10:40 PM local time, the eye of Typhoon Sarah passed over the island. Sustained winds in the eyewall were 130 knots, from the north before the eye, and from the south afterwards. All non-reinforced structures were demolished. There were no serious injuries, and the population was evacuated after the storm.[4]

History

Pre-European discovery

Indigenous Marshallese oral tradition suggests that prior to European exploration, nearby Marshall Islanders traveled to what is now Wake Island, which the travelers called Enen-kio after a small orange shrub-flower said to have been found on the atoll. In ancient Marshallese religion, rituals surrounding the tattooing of tribal chiefs, called Iroijlaplap, were done using certain fresh human bones, which required a human sacrifice. A man could save himself from being sacrificed if he obtained a wing bone from a certain very large seabird said to have existed on Enen-kio. Small groups would therefore brave traveling to the atoll in hope of obtaining and returning with this bone, thus saving the life of the potential human sacrifice.[5] [6] However, no evidence suggests there was ever a permanent settlement of Marshall Islanders on Wake Island.[5]

Based upon this oral tradition[7] along with concepts of first-usage land rights claims commonly held in Micronesian cultures as legitimate for settling indigenous land disputes,[8][9][10] a group of Marshall Island descendants called the Kingdom of EnenKio lay claim to Wake Island. The Marshall Islands and U.S. governments, who also have competing claims over the island, vigorously deny the claim.

European discovery and exploration

On October 20, 1568, Álvaro de Mendaña de Neyra, a Spanish explorer with two ships, Los Reyes and Todos Santos, discovered "a low barren island, judged to be eight leagues in circumference", to which he gave the name of "San Francisco". The island was eventually named for Captain William Wake, master of the British trading schooner, Prince William Henry, who visited in 1796.[11]

JN Reynolds's 1828 report to the US House of Representatives describes Capt. Edward Gardner's discovery of a 25-mile (40 km) long island situated at 19°15' N, 166°32' E, with a reef at the eastern edge, while captaining the Bellona in 1823. The island was "covered with wood, having a very green and rural appearance" and was probably, Reynolds concludes, Wake Island. It was placed on charts of the time by John Arrowsmith.[12]

On December 20, 1840, the United States Exploring Expedition commanded by Commodore Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Navy, landed on and surveyed Wake. Wilkes described the atoll as "a low coral one, of triangular form and eight feet above the surface. It has a large lagoon in the centre, which was well filled with fish of a variety of species among these were some fine mullet." He also noted that Wake had no fresh water and that it was covered with shrubs, "the most abundant of which was the tournefortia." The expedition's naturalist, Titian Peale, collected many new specimens, including an egg from a short-tailed albatross and various marine life specimens.

Wake Island as seen by the Expedition, drawn by Alfred Thomas Agate

Wreck of the Libelle

Wake Island first received international attention with the wreck of the Libelle. On the night of March 4, 1866, the 650 ton barque Libelle of Bremen, Germany, struck the eastern reef of Wake Island during a gale. The ship was under the command of Captain Tobias and en route from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Among its passengers were opera singer Anna Bishop (ex wife of the celebrated French harpist Nicolas Bochsa), her husband Martin Schultz (a New York diamond merchant), and three other members of an English opera troupe.

After 21 days, the 30 stranded passengers and crew set sail in a longboat and a gig for the then Spanish island of Guam. The longboat, containing the opera troupe, Mr. Schultz and other passengers, arrived on Guam April 8. The gig, commanded by the Libelle's captain, was lost at sea. While stranded on Wake Island, Captain Tobias had buried valuable cargo including 1,000 flasks (34,500 kg) of mercury, coins and precious stones worth approximately $150,000, and at least five ships conducted salvage operations in their recovery. The plight of the Libelle, its passengers and cargo was reported by many newspapers.

American possession

Flag of Wake Island

Wake Island was annexed as empty territory by the United States on January 17, 1899. In 1935, Pan American Airways constructed a small village, nicknamed "PAAville", to service flights on its U.S.–China route. The village was the first human settlement on the island and relied upon the U.S. mainland for its food and water supplies; it remained in operation up to the day of the first Japanese air raid.

Military buildup

In January 1941, the United States Navy constructed a military base on the atoll. On August 19, the first permanent military garrison, elements of the 1st Marine Defense Battalion,[13] totaling 449 officers and men, were stationed on the island, commanded by Navy Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham. Also on the island were 68 U.S. Naval personnel and about 1,221 civilian workers.

They were armed with six used 5 inch/51 cal (127 mm) cannons, removed from a scrapped battleship; twelve 3 inch/50 cal (76.2 mm) M3 anti-aircraft guns (with only a single working anti-aircraft director among them); eighteen Browning M2 .50 caliber heavy machine guns; and thirty heavy, medium, and light, water or air-cooled Browning M1917 .30 caliber machine guns in various conditions but all operational.

World War II

Wake Island
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
The formal surrender of the Japanese garrison on Wake Island—September 7, 1945. Shigematsu Sakaibara is the Japanese officer in the right-foreground.
Location: Pacific Ocean
Governing body: U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
Added to NRHP: September 16, 1985
Designated NHL: September 16, 1985
NRHP Reference#: 85002726

Battle of Wake Island

On December 8, 1941, the same day as the Attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line), at least 27 Japanese Mitsubishi G3M medium "Nell" bombers flown from bases on Kwajalein in the Marshall Island group attacked Wake Island, destroying eight of the 12 F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft belonging to Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-211 on the ground. All of the Marine garrison's defensive emplacements were left intact by the raid, which primarily targeted the aircraft.

The garrison—supplemented by civilian volunteers—repelled several Japanese landing attempts. An American journalist reported that after the initial Japanese amphibious assault was beaten back with heavy losses, the American commander was asked by his superiors if he needed anything, to which the commander sent back the message "Send us more Japs!", a reply which became a popular legend.[14][15] However, when Lt. Col. Devereux learned after the war that he was credited with that message he pointed out that he was not the commander, contrary to the reports, and denied sending that message: "As far as I know, it wasn't sent at all. None of us was that much of a damn fool. We already had more Japs than we could handle."[16]

Winfield S. Cunningham, Commander, US Navy, was in charge of Wake Island. He had ordered coded messages be sent during operations and a junior officer had added "send us" and "more Japs" to the beginning and end of a message to confuse the Japanese code breakers. This was put back together at Pearl Harbor and became part of the lore of WWII. Cunningham and Deveraux each wrote books about the battle and the aftermaths and imprisonment.

The garrison was eventually overwhelmed by the numerically superior Japanese invasion force. American casualties were 52 military personnel and approximately 70 civilians killed. Japanese losses exceeded 700 killed, with some estimates ranging as high as 1,000; in addition, the Japanese lost two destroyers, one submarine and 24 aircraft.

In the aftermath of the battle, most of the captured civilians and military personnel were sent to POW camps in Asia, while some of the civilian laborers were enslaved by the Japanese and tasked with improving the island's defenses.

Capt Henry T. Elrod, USMC, one of the pilots from VMF-211, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for shooting down two Japanese Zero fighters, sinking a destroyer and fighting on the ground to defend the island. Many of his comrades were also highly decorated for their roles in the fighting. The Wake Island Device was created for American veterans of the battle.

Japanese occupation and surrender

The 98 rock

The Japanese-occupied island (called Otori-Shima or "Bird Island" for its birdlike shape)[17] was bombed several times by American air forces; one of these raids was the first mission for future United States President George H.W. Bush[citation needed].

After a successful American air raid on October 5, 1943, the Japanese garrison commander Rear Adm. Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the 98 captured American civilian forced laborers remaining on the island. They were taken to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and machine-gunned. One of the prisoners escaped the massacre, carving the message "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock near where the victims had been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American was recaptured and beheaded. After the war, Sakaibara and his subordinate, Lt. Cmdr. Tachibana, were sentenced to death for this and other war crimes. Tachibana's sentence was later commuted to life in prison. The murdered civilian POWs were reburied in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.

During the Japanese occupation, Wake island's native species of flightless Rail Bird was hunted and eaten to extinction after the occupants became cut off from the supply route in 1944. Because of its flightlessness and curiosity, it was easy for just two men to catch barehanded. The last rail was killed in 1945 by the starving soldiers.

US Civilian POWs Memorial

On September 4, 1945, the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered to a detachment of the United States Marine Corps. In a brief ceremony, the handover of Wake was officially conducted.

Postwar

Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1970 1,647
1980 302 −81.7%
1990 7 −97.7%
2000 1 −85.7%
Wake island.jpg

On October 14, 1950, the island served as a one-day meeting site between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S. Truman, meeting to discuss strategy for the Korean War hostilities that had broken out four months earlier.[citation needed]

Since 1974, the island's airstrip, Wake Island Airfield, has been used by the U.S. military and some commercial cargo planes, as well as for emergency landings. There are over 700 landings a year on the island. There are also two offshore anchorages for large ships. On September 16, 1985, the World War II–related resources on Peale, Wilkes, and Wake Islands were designated a National Historic Landmark[18][19] (and thereby also listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

The United States military personnel have left, and there are no indigenous inhabitants. Wake, with an undelineated maritime boundary with them, is claimed by the Marshall Islands, and some civilian personnel ("contractor inhabitants") remain. As of August 2006, an estimated 200 contractor personnel were present.[citation needed] The island remains a strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean and serves as an emergency landing location for transpacific flights.[citation needed] Some World War II facilities and wreckage remain on the islands.

Subsequently the island was used for strategic defense and operations during the Cold War. It was administered by the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (formerly known as the United States Army Space and Strategic Defense Command). Since 1974, Wake Island has served as a launch platform for military rockets involved in testing anti-missile systems and atmospheric re-entry trials. Launches take place from 19°17′24″N 166°37′05″E / 19.29°N 166.61806°E / 19.29; 166.61806.

Wake Island's Main Lagoon

From late April until the middle of August 1975, Wake Island was used as a refugee camp for more than 8,000 Vietnamese refugees who fled their homeland after the fall of Saigon that ended the Vietnam War.[citation needed]

Territorial claim by the Republic of the Marshall Islands

The territorial claim by the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Wake Atoll[20] leaves a certain amount of ambiguity regarding the actual or hypothetical role of the U.S. military, responsible under agreement for the defense of Marshallese territory, in the event of any strategic crisis or hostilities involving Wake. However, the atoll was formally annexed by the U.S. in the 19th century and is still administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs.

Notes

  1. ^ Bryan, EH (1959-05-15). "Notes on the geography and natural history of Wake Island" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin No 66. Washington, D.C.: The Pacific Science Board - United States National Research Council - United States National Academy of Sciences. http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/duffy/ARB/061-70/066.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-04.  OCLC 77749310
  2. ^ FOXNews.com - 'Super' Typhoon Slams Tiny Wake Island - Australia New Zealand | Indonesia | Map
  3. ^ 'Monster' Typhoon Ioke Makes Direct Hit on Wake Island
  4. ^ NOAA The 1967 Central Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season
  5. ^ a b Tons of Books Online
  6. ^ http://www.angelfire.com/nv/micronations/images/marshall2b.jpg
  7. ^ EnenKio Introduction
  8. ^ Land disputes
  9. ^ http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/alrc/publications/reform/reform80/07.rtf
  10. ^ http://www.forumsec.org.fj/docs/FEMM/2002/femv06.pdf#search=%22land%20disputes%20first%20usage%20micronesia%22
  11. ^ Wake Island
  12. ^ Reynold's Report to the House of Representatives
  13. ^ Condition Red: Marine Defense Battalions in World War II (Battalion Summaries)
  14. ^ Legends
  15. ^ "Joyous Finale". Time. 1945-09-17. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,854451,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  16. ^ Boller, Jr., Paul F.; George, John (1989). They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505541-1. 
  17. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (2001). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252069730. 
  18. ^ "Wake Island". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=4&ResourceType=Building. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  19. ^ Erwin N. Thompson (May 13, 1984) (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination, National Park Service, http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/85002726.pdf, retrieved 2009-06-21 . Wake Island--Accompanying 13 photos, from 1944 and 1983.PDF (2.78 MB)
  20. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Wake Island

References

  • Sloan, Bill. Given up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island. Bantam Books, 2003. ISBN 0-553-80302-6.
  • Heine, Dwight and Jon A. Anderson, "Enen-kio: Island of the Kio Flower", Micronesia Reporter, 1971.
  • Urwin, Gregory J.W. ..Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island. University of Nebraska Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8032-9562-6.
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.
  • Drechsler, Bernd; Begerow, Thomas; Pawlik, Peter-Michael. Den Tod vor Augen - Die unglückliche Reise der Bremer Bark Libelle in den Jahren 1864 bis 1866. Bremen 2007.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Wake Island
The Wake Island atoll from the northeast, in 1941
The Wake Island atoll from the northeast, in 1941

Wake Island is a tiny island in Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean, located 2/3 of the way from Honolulu to Guam, best known for its role in World War II. It is an unorganized United States territory, with no permanent residents, just members of the U.S. military and civilian contractors who manage the facility. Positioned just a few hundred miles west of the International Date Line (UTC +12), Wake Island is "in the future" from most of the world, and the rest of the United States.

Landscape

"Wake Island" is technically an atoll of three islands: Wake itself is V-shaped; Wilkes and Peale Islands are extensions of the legs of that V, separated from Wake by narrow channels. They surround a shallow lagoon (the crater of the volcano that spawned the atoll), and are themselves surrounded by a coral reef. The highest point is only 20 ft above sea level. The islands cover about 12.5 mi2, with a coastline of 12 mi. The island's airfield, including a runway running the length of the southern leg of the V, covers a substantial percentage of the land area.

History

The island was first discovered in 1568 by a Spanish explorer who named it "San Francisco". A British ship captained by Samuel Wake re-discovered it in 1796; his name actually stuck. The 1840 United States Exploring Expedition led by Charles Wilkes with naturalist Titian Peale gave their names to the smaller islands. But it was Pan American Airways that "put it on the map", building a "PAAville" and a 48-room hotel on Peale Island and using it as a refueling and rest stop on their then-new "China Clipper" passenger and mail route between San Francisco and Hong Kong in 1935.

The Japanese Navy helped put Wake on the silver screen, by attacking it just hours after Pearl Harbor (December 8 local time, due to the time difference), then laying siege to it over the next few weeks. They successfully took the island, but not before the hopelessly out-manned and out-gunned U.S. military and civilian force stationed there sank two of their destroyers, substantially damaged their other ships, and killed nearly 1000 of the invading force. Eight months later, Wake Island – a stirring dramatization of the island's defense – was released by Paramount Pictures, garnering 4 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

The island returned to U.S. control following the Japanese surrender (although there is now a conflicting claim by the Marshall Islands, which became independent in 1986). It has since served as a refueling stop and staging ground during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Operation Desert Storm. It served as a waystation to the U.S. for 92,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1975, and evacuees of the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. It currently participates in the testing phase of possible ballistic missile defense systems.

Wake Island was struck by Super Typhoon Ioke, a category-5 tropical storm, in August 2006. The atoll's population of 188 at the time was fully evacuated. 70% of the buildings were damaged, but not as badly as feared, and major components of the island's infrastructure survived, including the airfield. As of August 2007, the island is up and running again.

Get in

Commercial air service to Wake has been discontinued, and the atoll is no longer generally open to visitors. The airstrip remains available as an emergency landing site for trans-Pacific flights; if you don't have official business there, that's perhaps the most likely circumstance in which you'll visit the place. In non-emergency situations, a "Prior Permission Request" must be filed to use the airstrip (and will probably be denied) +1-808-424-2101. From time to time, Military Historical Tours [1] offers day trips to the island. They include a flight from Guam on a chartered Continental Micronesia 737-800.

The island does not have a navigable harbor; the lagoon is cut off from the ocean by a coral reef, and itself is rarely deeper than a few meters at high tide.

It is, however, absolutely beautiful.

Get around

Most parts of the islands are easily accessible on foot, though sturdy shoes are recommended to protect from sharp coral rocks in many places. There are also roads on the islands; trucks, minivans, and full-size vans are available to authorized personnel. +1-808-424-2227.

Wake's beautiful shark-free lagoon
Wake's beautiful shark-free lagoon
  • The beaches and lagoon are highly praised as examples of tropical beauty.
  • The "98 Rock" is a memorial for the 98 U.S. Prisoners of War who were forced by their Japanese captors to rebuild the airstrip as slave labor, then blind-folded and killed with machine guns on 5 October 1943. An unidentified prisoner escaped, and scratched "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock near their mass grave, on Wilkes Island at the edge of the lagoon (near the current fuel tank farm). He was recaptured and beheaded by the Japanese admiral, who was later convicted and executed for these war crimes. The rock still bears the original inscription and a small plaque identifying it; a bronze plaque naming the victims has been placed at the site.
  • There are also memorials for the military and civilian personnel who died defending the islands from the Japanese take-over.
  • The remains of Japanese fortifications during World War II are still visible around the islands.
  • The "PAAville" hotel and China Clipper dock are in ruins.
  • A base dining facility provides meals to those stationed on the island. +1-808-424-2794.
  • Drifter's Reef (on Wake, by the channel separating it from Peale). This long-standing establishment is the only official bar on the island.
  • Barracks capable of housing 154 are maintained on the island. Double-occupancy rooms are provided to visitors, with VIP quarters sometimes available. +1-808-424-2794.

Work

The facilities on Wake Island are managed by the civilian Chugach Alaska Corporation, 3800 Centerpoint Dr., Anchorage, AK 99503 +1 907-563-8866. [2]

The fish are mostly friendly, but coral reefs can be sharp!
The fish are mostly friendly, but coral reefs can be sharp!

Sharks swim in the waters of the Pacific around Wake Island.

Wake Island has no natural fresh-water sources, so huge catchbasins for rainwater were built but are no longer in service. Water now is made through reverse osmosis processing units that pull salt water from the ocean and convert it to potable water.

Get out

Depending on the direction, either Guam or the Midway Islands was the next stop on Pan Am's "China Clipper" route, both of which also played important roles in World War II. The Marshall Islands are the atoll's nearest neighbor, a few hundred miles to the south.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Wake Island <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center"> </td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center">Map of Wake</td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center">
</td></tr>

<tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Island Type</th><td>Coral
Owned by United States
</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Discovered</th><td>October 20, 1568</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Area</th><td>6.5 square kilometers</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Population</th><td>More than 75</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Transportation</th><td>Airstrip</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Uses</th><td>Military</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Additional Claims</th><td>Template:Country data Marshall Islands</td></tr>
USGS Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image of Wake Island.

Wake Island (also known as Wake Atoll) is a coral atoll having a coastline of 12 miles (19 kilometers) in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu (2,300 statute miles or 3,700 km west) to Guam (1,510 miles or 2,430 km east). It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Access to the island is restricted, and all current activities on the island are managed by the United States Air Force and the United States Army. The largest island (Wake Island) is the center of activity on the atoll and features a 9,800 foot (3,000 m) runway.

For statistical purposes, Wake is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

Contents

Geography

Wake is located to the west of the International Date Line and is one day ahead of the 50 states.

Although Wake is officially called an island in the singular form, it is actually an atoll comprising three islands (Wake, Wilkes, and Peale) surrounding a central lagoon. Referring to the atoll as an island is the result of a pre-World War II desire by the United States Navy to distinguish Wake from other atolls, most of which were Japanese territory.

  • Area (land): 2.5 mi² (6.5 km²)
  • Coastline: Wake Atoll- 21.0 mi (33.8 km) Wake Proper-12.0 mi (19.3 km)
  • Maritime claims
    • exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (370 km)
    • territorial sea: 12 nm (22 km)
  • Elevation extremes:
    • lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 feet (0 m)
    • highest point: Ducks Point, 20 feet (6 m)

Environment

Climate

Wake Island lies in the tropical zone but is subject to periodic temperate storms during the winter. Sea surface temperatures are warm all year long, reaching above 80 °F (26.7 °C) in summer and fall. Typhoons occasionally pass over the island.

Typhoon Ioke

On August 28, 2006, the United States Air Force evacuated all 188 residents and suspended all operations as category 5 Super Typhoon Ioke headed toward Wake. By August 31, the southwestern eyewall of the storm passed over the island, with winds well over 185 miles per hour (300 km/h),[1] driving a 20 ft (6m) storm surge and waves directly into the lagoon inflicting major damage.[2] A US Air Force assessment and repair team returned to the island in September 2006 and restored limited function to the airfield and facilities leading ultimately to a full return to normal operations.

Flora and fauna

The flightless Wake Island Rail was the island's only known native land bird. It became extinct when the Japanese garrison, cut off from resupply in 1944-45, turned to hunting and fishing to avoid starvation.

History

Remnant artillery on Wake Island.

Pre-European discovery

Some scant indigenous Marshallese oral tradition suggests that prior to European exploration, nearby Marshall Islanders traveled to what is now Wake Island, which the travelers called Enen-kio after a small orange shrub-flower said to have been found on the atoll. In ancient Marshallese religion, rituals surrounding the tattooing of tribal chiefs, called Iroijlaplap, were done using certain fresh human bones, which required a human sacrifice. A man could save himself from being sacrificed if he obtained a wing bone from a certain very large seabird said to have existed on Enen-kio. Small groups would therefore brave traveling to the atoll in hope of obtaining and returning with this bone, thus saving the life of the potential human sacrifice.[3]

Based upon this oral tradition[4] along with concepts of first-usage lands rights claims commonly held in Micronesian cultures as legitimate for settling indigenous land disputes,[5][6][7] a small separatist group of Marshall Island descendents who call themselves the Kingdom of EnenKio lay claim to Wake Island. The Marshall Islands and U.S. governments, who also have competing claims over the island, vigorously deny the claim.[8] No evidence suggests there was ever a permanent settlement of Marshall Islanders on Wake Island.[9]

European discovery and exploration

On October 20, 1568, Álvaro de Mendaña de Neyra, a Spanish explorer with two ships, Los Reyes and Todos Santos, discovered "a low barren island, judged to be eight leagues in circumference," to which he gave the name of "San Francisco." The island was eventually named for Captain William Wake, master of the British trading schooner, Prince William Henry, who visited in 1796.[10]

JN Reynolds's 1828 report to the US House of Representatives describes Capt. Edward Gardner's discovery of a 25-mile long island situated at 19°15' N, 166°32' E, with a reef at the eastern edge, while captaining the Bellona in 1823. The island was "covered with wood, having a very green and rural appearance" and was probably, Reynolds concludes, Wake Island, placed on charts of the time by John Arrowsmith.[11]

On December 20, 1840, the United States Exploring Expedition commanded by Commodore Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Navy, landed on and surveyed Wake. Wilkes described the atoll as "a low coral one, of triangular form and eight feet above the surface. It has a large lagoon in the centre, which was well filled with fish of a variety of species among these were some fine mullet." He also noted that Wake had no fresh water and that it was covered with shrubs, "the most abundant of which was the tournefortia." The expedition's naturalist, Titian Peale, collected many new specimens, including an egg from a short-tailed albatross and various marine life specimens.

Wreck of the Libelle

Wake Island first received international attention with the wreck of the Libelle. On the night of March 4, 1866, the 650 ton barque Libelle of Bremen, Germany, struck the eastern reef of Wake Island during a gale. The ship was under the command of Captain Tobias and en route from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Among its passengers were opera singer Anna Bishop (ex wife of the celebrated French harpist Nicolas Bochsa), her husband Martin Schultz (a New York diamond merchant), and three other members of an English opera troupe.

After 21 days, the 30 stranded passengers and crew set sail in a longboat and a gig for the then Spanish island of Guam. The longboat, containing the opera troupe, Mr. Schultz and other passengers, arrived on Guam April 8. The gig, commanded by the Libelle’s captain, was lost at sea. While stranded on Wake Island, Captain Tobias had buried valuable cargo including 1,000 flasks (34,500 kg) of mercury, coins and precious stones worth approximately $150,000, and at least five ships conducted salvage operations in their recovery. The plight of the Libelle, its passengers and cargo was reported by many newspapers.

American possession

Wake Island was annexed by the United States (empty territory) on January 17, 1899. In 1935, Pan American Airways constructed a small village, nicknamed "PAAville", to service flights on its U.S.-China route. The village was the first human settlement on the island and relied upon the U.S. mainland for its food and water supplies; it remained in operation up to the day of the first Japanese air raid.

Military buildup

In January 1941, the United States Navy constructed a military base on the atoll. On August 19, the first permanent military garrison, elements of the 1st Marine Defense Battalion,[12] totaling 449 officers and men, were stationed on the island, commanded by Navy Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham. Also on the island were 68 U.S. Naval personnel and about 1,221 civilian workers.

They were armed with six used 5 inch/51 cal (127 mm) cannons, removed from a scrapped cruiser; twelve 3 inch/50 cal (76.2 mm) M3 anti-aircraft guns (with only a single working anti-aircraft sight among them); eighteen Browning M2 heavy machine guns; and thirty heavy, medium, and light, water or air-cooled machine guns in various conditions but all operational.

World War II

Wake Island
colspan=2 Template:Infobox nrhp/NRHP nhl
The surrender of the Japanese garrison on Wake Island - September 4, 1945. Shigematsu Sakaibara is the Japanese officer in the right-foreground.
The surrender of the Japanese garrison on Wake Island - September 4, 1945. Shigematsu Sakaibara is the Japanese officer in the right-foreground.
Location: Pacific Ocean
Designated as NHL: September 16, 1985
Added to NRHP: September 16, 1985
NRHP Reference#: 85002726
Governing body: U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs

Battle of Wake Island

Main article: Battle of Wake Island

On December 8, 1941, the same day as the Attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line), at least twenty-seven Japanese medium "Nell" bombers flown from bases on Kwajelein in the Marshall Island group attacked Wake Island, destroying eight of the twelve F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft belonging to Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-211 on the ground. All of the Marine garrison's defensive emplacements were left intact by the raid, which primarily targeted the aircraft.

The garrison—supplemented by civilian volunteers—repelled several Japanese landing attempts. An American journalist reported that after the initial Japanese amphibious assault was beaten back with heavy losses, the American commander was asked by his superiors if he needed anything, to which the commander sent back the message "Send us more Japs!", a reply which became a popular legend.[13][14] However, when Lieutenant-Colonel Deveraux learned after the war that he was credited with that message he pointed out that he was not the commander, contrary to the reports, and denied sending that message: "As far as I know, it wasn't sent at all. None of us was that much of a damn fool. We already had more Japs than we could handle."[15]

The garrison was eventually overwhelmed by the numerically superior Japanese invasion force. American casualties were fifty-two military personnel and approximately seventy civilians killed. Japanese losses exceeded 700 killed, with some estimates ranging as high as 1,000; in addition, the Japanese lost two destroyers, one submarine and twenty four aircraft.

In the aftermath of the battle, most of the captured civilians and military personnel were sent to POW camps in Asia, while some of the civilian laborers were pressed into service by the Japanese and tasked with improving the island's defenses. After a successful American air raid on October 5, 1943, the Japanese garrison commander Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the ninety-eight prisoners on the pretext that they were spies. One prisoner escaped the mass execution, but was later personally beheaded by Sakaibara. After the war, Sakaibaira was tried for war crimes, found guilty, and executed at Guam; his subordinate was sentenced to life in prison.

Captain Henry T. Elrod, one of the pilots from VMF-211, was awarded the United States Medal of Honor posthumously for shooting down two Japanese Zero fighters, and many of his comrades were also highly decorated for their roles in the fighting. The Wake Island Device was created for American veterans of the battle.

Japanese occupation and surrender

The Japanese-occupied island was bombed several times by American air forces; one of these raids was the first mission for future United States President George H.W. Bush.

On September 4, 1945, the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered to a detachment of the United States Marine Corps. In a brief ceremony, the handover of Wake was officially conducted.

US Civilian POWs Memorial

Postwar

On October 14 1950, the island served as a one-day meeting site between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S. Truman, meeting to discuss strategy for the Korean War hostilities that had broken out four months earlier.

Since 1974, the island's airstrip has been used by the U.S. military and some commercial cargo planes, as well as for emergency landings. There are over 700 landings a year on the island. There are also two offshore anchorages for large ships. On September 16, 1985, the World War II-related resources on Peale, Wilkes, and Wake Islands were designated a National Historic Landmark[16][17] (and thereby also listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

The United States military personnel have left, and there are no indigenous inhabitants. Wake, with an undelineated maritime boundary with them, is claimed by the Marshall Islands, and some civilian personnel ("contractor inhabitants") remain. As of August 2006, an estimated 200 contractor personnel were present. The island remains a strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean and serves as an emergency landing location for transpacific flights. Some World War II facilities and wreckage remain on the islands.

Subsequently the island was used for strategic defense and operations during the Cold War. It was administered by the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (formerly known as the United States Army Space and Strategic Defense Command).

Wake Island's Main Lagoon

Since 1974, Wake Island has served as a launch platform for military rockets involved in testing anti-missile systems and atmospheric re-entry trials. Launches take place from 19°17′24″N, 166°37′05″E.

From late April until the middle of August 1975, Wake Island was used as a refugee camp for more than 8,000 Vietnamese refugees who fled their homeland after the fall of Saigon that ended the Vietnam War.

The territorial claim by the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Wake Atoll[18] leaves a certain amount of ambiguity regarding the actual or hypothetical role of the U.S. military, responsible under agreement for the defence of Marshallese territory, in the event of any strategic crisis or hostilities involving Wake. However, the atoll was formally annexed by the U.S. in the 19th century and is still administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

References

  • Sloan, Bill. Given up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island. Bantam Books, 2003. ISBN 0-553-80302-6
  • Heine, Dwight and Jon A. Anderson, "Enen-kio: Island of the Kio Flower," Micronesia Reporter, 1971.
  • Urwin, Gregory J.W. "Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island" University of Nebraska Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8032-9562-6
  • This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,211537,00.html
  2. ^ http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-08-31-voa11.cfm
  3. ^ http://www.enenkio.org/adobe/Kio_Island.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.enenkio.org/intro.htm#reference1
  5. ^ Land disputes
  6. ^ http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/alrc/publications/reform/reform80/07.rtf
  7. ^ http://www.forumsec.org.fj/docs/FEMM/2002/femv06.pdf#search=%22land%20disputes%20first%20usage%20micronesia%22
  8. ^ http://www.angelfire.com/nv/micronations/images/marshall2b.jpg
  9. ^ http://www.enenkio.org/adobe/Kio_Island.pdf
  10. ^ http://www.janeresture.com/wake/index.htm
  11. ^ Reynold's Report to the House of Representatives
  12. ^ http://www.nps.gov/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003133-00/sec15.htm
  13. ^ http://usmilitary.about.com/od/marines/a/legends.htm
  14. ^ "Joyous Finale", {{subst:#ifexist:Time (magazine)|Time|Time}}, {{subst:#ifexist:1945-09-17|[[1945-09-17|]]|[[Wikipedia:1945-09-17|]]}}. Retrieved on 2007-04-08. 
  15. ^ Boller, Jr., Paul F.; George, John (1989). They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505541-1. 
  16. ^ Wake Island. National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved on 2007-10-02.
  17. ^ Erwin N. Thompson (May 13, 1984), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-NominationPDFImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif (1.23 {{subst:#ifexist:Mebibyte|MiB|MiB}}), National Park Service . Wake Island--Accompanying 13 photos, from 1944 and 1983.PDFImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif (1.54 {{subst:#ifexist:Mebibyte|MiB|MiB}})
  18. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/wq.html#Issues

External links

Facts about Wake IslandRDF feed
Wikipedia en:Portable Document Format  +

This article uses material from the "Wake Island" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|Wake Island - Satellite Image]] Wake Island is an atoll (a type of island) in the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii. It is controlled by the United States Army and United States Air Force. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, part of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.


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