February Updates from the South Pacific

| February 9, 2018 | 22 Comments

From USPACOM.mil, some current updates:  http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/Year/2018/

USS Rushmore recently concluded its participation in Operation Iron Fist, a cooperative exercise between US and Japanese military forces off the coast of southern California.


VP Pence spent some time at Yokota Air Base, Japan, addressing the troops, highlighting the range of US military capabilities in regard to common defense of our allies, as well as the issue of North Korea and its current leader, Kim Jong-un.

Regarding health care in Pago Pago, Samoa for American Samoan vets, the VA has only an outpatient clinic available, no emergency care, so they’re going to Hawaii for VA care. It’s a 17-hour trip on an island-hopping tourist plane, which can be hard on anyone with a serious health issue. https://www.hawaii.va.gov/locations/pago_pago_american_samoa.asp

This does need to be fixed. If there is a hospital with emergency services on these islands, these vets should not be required to make an arduous, painful and debilitating trip to get help.


Out in the middle of nowhere:

You may remember that Wake Island was an important launch point and base for USAAF pilots doing bombing runs in the Pacific. The Japanese attacked the island from a base on Kwajalein on Dec. 8, 1941.

A garrison of 449 U.S. Marines, several dozen navy personnel, and a handful of army radio operators also were stationed on Wake. That force had nearly 2,100 fewer troops than American strategists had deemed necessary to properly defend the atoll. The island’s defenders were equipped with six 5-inch (127-mm) coastal artillery pieces, 12 3-inch (76-mm) antiaircraft guns, 12 F4F Wildcat fighter planes, and an assortment of machine guns and small arms. Forty-five Guamanian men, employed by Pan American Airways as part of its transpacific Clipper service, rounded out the atoll’s human population. – Source: https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Wake-Island

Prior to the attack, the Wake Island group had been a stopover for tourists and vacationers going  to and from the Orient.

Right now, the population consists of about four U.S. military personnel and some contractors. Their big deal is the shanty they use as a bar and the karaoke that goes with it. They also have a Facebook page. Stuck out there in the middle of nowhere, they feel like they’re in their own little country.


So when USMC GEN Dunford paid a visit to Wake Island in January, it was part of his tour to visit US bases in the Pacific. Other people would probably just bypass it, but he stopped there.  I think they’d welcome visitors at any time, and that was a thoughtful thing for him to do. No, I don’t know exactly what construction is going on there, but the old guns that were installed are still there on the beachhead.

The island was an excellent spot to view the last eclipse.There’s a schedule of future lunar and solar eclipses that can be viewed from the island. It’s also a bird sanctuary for birds that make trans-Pacific migration with the Wake Islands atoll en route as a rest stop.

And finally, you may also remember Tinian. It was that little spit of an island in the Marianas that was used as the launch point for delivering The Bomb to tell Japan we meant business.

For Tinian’s affairs today, here’s something from the Marianas Variety about Tinian. They’re looking for how to best present historic material to the public.


Any suggestions (no snarkking, please) can be sent to the address in the article.

Category: Support the troops

Comments (22)

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  1. MSGT Richard Deiters USMC(Retired) says:

    FIRST ! !!!!!!!!!

  2. Aysel says:

    well, top 10ish? I’ll take it!

  3. AW1Ed says:

    Itchy trigger fingers today! Thanks for the update, Ex. I’m more of LANTFLT type, and tend to forget about the Left Coast.

  4. Combat Historian says:

    “…A garrison of 449 U.S. Marines, several dozen navy personnel, and a handful of army radio operators also were stationed on Wake…Forty-five Guamanian men, employed by Pan American Airways as part of its transpacific Clipper service, rounded out the atoll’s human population….”

    In addition to the personnel mentioned above, a workforce of 1221 American civilian construction workers from the Morris-Knudsen Construction Company were on Wake at the time of the Japanese invasion. They were there to build up Wake’s fortifications and improve the airfield, and were still hard at work on their projects when the Japanese attacked.

    Some of the civilian workers went into hiding and refused to help out the troops once the war started and the Japanese attacked, but most of the civilian construction workers assisted the military defenders of Wake once the shooting began, from helping with the earthworks to carrying ammunition to actually becoming impromptu riflemen themselves.

    When the Wake garrison surrendered on 23 Dec 41, all the surviving military and civilian prisoners on Wake were shipped off to prison camps in Japan and China, except for 98 civilian workers who were kept on the island to help the new Japanese garrison with construction chores.

    On 07 Oct 43, in the aftermath of the first large-scale U.S. carrier raid on Wake, the 98 American civilian prisoners left behind on Wake were executed and massacred on order of the Japanese commander in retaliation for the raid and because of fear that the U.S. was about to launch an invasion of the island. RADM Sakaibara, the Japanese commander who ordered the massacre, was hanged for war crimes by the U.S. in 1946.

    It is my understanding that the fact that so many civilian construction workers were caught in the middle of the combat zone when the war started served as a major impetus for the Navy to activate the SeaBee force in early 1942, so that an organized naval engineering/construction force will be available to work on naval facilities in the combat zone without have to rely on civilian construction contractors once the shooting began.

  5. Cowpill says:

    I have been to both Saipan and Tinian in the mid nineties. The bomb pit was uncovered when I was there but I saw on google earth they have it enclosed now. Saipan had a radio free America sight there. It was funny to see all the dead bird in the field beyond the fence.

  6. Dallas Wittgenfeld’s Bunghole says:

    Iron Fist…..YEAH!!!!

  7. 26Limabeans says:

    “You may remember that Wake Island…..”

    My Freedom Bird refueled there.
    It was dark. I remember it well.

  8. Chesty says:

    What is a “basis”?

    Got a headache trying to read this. Guess that’s what you get when an old tuna boat gets to write on a blog mostly filled with cold war “warriors”.

  9. 26Limabeans says:

    “What is a “basis”?”

    It is a set of facts from which one forms an opinion about something or some person or persons. Hope that helps.

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