Operation New Life

Posted by on April 23, 2024 in Blog | Comments Off on Operation New Life

Operation New Life

In the spring of 1975 Wake Island’s population briefly soared to over eight thousand, the largest number of humans ever on the little coral atoll in the mid-Pacific. Operations Babylift and New Life evacuated tens of thousands of refugees in the closing days of the Vietnam War, and Wake Island became an overflow station for the New Life program. While the island had been home to a bustling community of over a thousand Americans and Filipino workers during the hey-day of the late 1950s and 60s, its population had plummeted to little over 200...

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Survivor Memoirs

Posted by on February 16, 2024 in Blog | Comments Off on Survivor Memoirs

Survivor Memoirs

In the decades after World War II, many civilian survivors of Wake Island took pen to paper to write recollections of their experiences on Wake as workers, the battle for the island in December 1941, and forty-four grueling months as prisoners of the Japanese. Some fleshed out their memoirs as autobiographies, including memories of their youth and postwar lives; others zeroed in on the war and how they faced the challenges that befell them from 1941 to 1945. I collected many memoirs from survivors themselves or their family members over the...

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Japanese Americans in WWII

Posted by on November 14, 2023 in Blog | Comments Off on Japanese Americans in WWII

Japanese Americans in WWII

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown (Viking, 2021) offers a deeply moving account of the stark challenges faced by Japanese Americans during WWII and the heroic service rendered by the army’s segregated 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in the European Theater. These second-generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans marched into daunting missions with such determination and courage that “Go for Broke” became their motto. The 442nd RGT was the most decorated unit of its size...

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“Special Prisoners”

Posted by on July 19, 2023 in Blog | 2 comments

“Special Prisoners”

Recent work at the Center for Research: Allied POWs under the Japanese (Mansell.com) has uncovered two secret radio POW camps in Japan during the war. A few Allied prisoners were known to have worked in broadcasting for Radio Tokyo during the later years of the war, but details were vague. While the production of this camp was openly broadcast over the airwaves in Asia and the Pacific where Japan hoped to influence Allied troops, the second camp remained top secret through the war as it received both Japanese and U.S. military transmissions....

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The WWII Burial Program

Posted by on May 29, 2023 in Blog | 5 comments

The WWII Burial Program

[6/3/2023 revised WWI death statistics in third paragraph] Every Memorial Day Americans pay their respects at the graves of veterans and loved ones in well-kept cemeteries decorated with flags and flowers. Most are unaware of the history that brought over one hundred seventy thousand dead servicemen home from the far-flung battlefields and seas of the Second World War. In the fall of 1945, the U. S. Congress approved a program unprecedented in size, challenge, and cost to recover and return the war dead home. They would arrive in flag-draped,...

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Try, try again . . .

Posted by on March 12, 2023 in Blog | Comments Off on Try, try again . . .

Try, try again . . .

The U. S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services recently announced that it is partnering with Parallel Flight Technologies to develop and test a drone-based system for aerial delivery of rat poison on Wake Island. Wake’s last rat eradication program took place in May 2012 and, during my visit there six months prior, preparations were well underway as authorities mapped bait stations and helicopter distribution routes and adopted strict garbage protocols. Meanwhile the little rats scurried about, oblivious to their impending destruction....

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Restless Seamounts

Posted by on December 8, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on Restless Seamounts

Restless Seamounts

While the spectacular Mauna Loa lava flows have been getting all the attention in the last couple of weeks, another volcano is making noise 3,800 miles west of Hawaii. Ahyi, a submarine volcano in the US territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, began erupting underwater in mid-October. Hydroacoustic sensors on Wake Island, 1400 miles away, were the first to pick up the sounds of activity, and data from seismic stations on Guam and a Japanese island confirmed the location. Ahyi has continued to rumble and belch sulfur, discoloring the...

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The Commander

Posted by on November 2, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on The Commander

The Commander

A new book by Gabriel M. Brady, published in September 2022, takes a deep dive into the postwar controversy over command of Wake Island during the siege and battle in December 1941. In Wake Island: New Insights into the Past: The Story of Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Cunningham’s Struggle for Justice (revised), Brady steadfastly defends Cunningham as he delves into the events, errors, rivalries, and omissions that elevated the role of Major James P. S. Devereux (USMC) while obscuring that of then-Commander Cunningham (USN). Sadly, Gabe Brady...

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Wake Military Rosters

Posted by on September 15, 2022 in Blog | 2 comments

Wake Military Rosters

After writing the blog post “Last Man Standing” a few weeks ago, declaring Pearson Riddle, Jr., the last living civilian survivor of Wake Island, I knew I couldn’t justify the title without also researching the military personnel stationed on Wake in 1941. While my focus has always been on the civilian side of the Wake story, I have long intended to verify the military rosters and fill in their personal data. That “back burner” project came due, and over the last several weeks I have worked with dedicated researcher Mark Stevens to achieve a...

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Last Man Standing

Posted by on August 23, 2022 in Blog | Comments Off on Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing

When my book was published ten years ago, there were thirty-one living civilian survivors of Wake Island. Fifty-three more had passed away during the five years it took me to research and write the book. I was honored to know many of them and able to contact most of the others still living to give them copies of the book. I my Acknowledgements I thanked those who shared their experiences with me. “These men and others whose stories I have read enriched this book immeasurably: I do not quote them, but they are right around the corner, on the...

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