Wake Island Remembered

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 by admin No Comments

Remember Wake Island

While the nation recognized the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, we honor all veterans for their sacrifices.

The surprise attack was an act of war against a country that still had not entered the conflict, although the US had begun to ramp up preparations for doing so, while still facing divergent opinions at home regarding US involvement.

Simultaneous with the attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of the Battle of Wake Island, 2300 miles to the west ofHawaii. Within 4 hours of the first bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor (it was December 8th on Wake by virtue of the fact that it lies just across the International Date Line) the Japanese began their invasion of Wake Island, occupied at the time by about 250 US Marines and about 1200 civilians, many of whom were from the Boise area and worked for a large construction company named Morrison-Knudsen. Morrison-Knudsen was a member of a group of approximately eight large construction companies that had been awarded a government contract for improvements on islands in the Pacific. The M-K workers didn’t know it when they signed on for the project, but the “luck of the draw” had placed them directly in harms way.

Some of the Morrison Knudsen workers were killed during the 15 day siege, many more were taken prisoner when the island fell to the Japanese invasion and were held as prisoners of war until 1945 (despite being non-military). Only half of the POW’s survived the war.

Approximately 96 M-K workers were kept on Wake to complete their construction project, the building of an air strip. When the air strip, which would be used by the Japanese throughout the war, was completed, the Morrison Knudsen workers were lined up and murdered. There were many heroes during WWII. These workers, as well as the Rosie the Riveters and other civilians who answered the call to duty are among that group.

My father served during WWII. He had to lie about his age and arrange to enlist in the Canadian Air Corp before the U.S. Navy would agree that he should be allowed to serve his country. My mother was a “Rosie”, working in a machine shop doing light machine work and lacing cables on aircraft electronics.

If you would like to show your support for the heroes of WWII, check out the following web-site:

VetsRoll.org    or make a tax-deductable donation by calling toll-free (800) 383-2267

 

It’s anIRS501(C)(3), started by my brothers, that has provided all expense paid trips for Wisconsin’s WWII Vets to Washington D.C. to see their Memorial. Time is running out for these Veterans. It would be great if more of them could receive just one more show of recognition for the sacrifices they made for the generations of Americans to come.

 

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