Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
 
    Wake Island Airfield (Wake Airfield) United States Minor Outlying Islands United States
Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
USN February 24, 1942

Click For Enlargement
USN c1944

Click For Enlargement
USN Sept 20, 1945

Click For Enlargement
Kirby Crawford 1967
Location
Located on Wake Island running roughly east to west, spanning the length of the island. Also known as "Naval Air Station Wake Island", "NAS Wake Island", "Wake Island Airfield" or "Wake Airfield".

Construction
Built by Morrison-Knudsen Company, one of of eight construction companies called the Contractors Pacific Naval Air Bases (CPNB). Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, Morrison-Knudsen was contracted to build an airfield, seaplane and submarine base on the island. Also, to dredge a channel into the lagoon to allow submarine access.

Wartime History
On December 2, 1941 aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CV-6 delivered U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Fighting Squadron211 (VMF-211) F4F Wildcats to Wake Island Airfield. The squadron defended Wake until it was disbanded on December 23, 1941.

American units based at Wake Island Airfield
VMF-211 (F4F Wildcats) USS Enterprise CV-6 arrives December 2, 1941–December 23, 1941 disbanded

Japanese and American missions against Wake
December 8, 1941 - August 6, 1945

Facing Fearful Odds by Gregory Urwin:
"After the fall of the island, the American POWs were marched to the runway and seated in rows facing a line of Japanese machine guns. The men were certain that they were to be executed. Indeed, this was the plan of the Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops who held them. Only the intervention of Rear Admiral Sadamichi Kajioka, who commanded the invasion force, prevented the slaughter. After Kajioka arrived, an interpreter read a proclamation to the prisoners that said, in part: "The Emperor has gracefully presented you with your lives."An unknown voice bellowed from the crowd of Americans: "Well, thank the son-of-a-bitch." With the exception of a handful of senior military officers and contractors held indoors, the captives remained three days and two nights on the rocky runway."

Occupied by the Japanese and used as an airfield for the remainder of the war.

Postwar
During September 1945, occupied by American forces and repaired. Several Japanese aircraft were abandoned at the airfield including a G3M2 Nell and A6M Zero Tail Y2-1??.

Today
Today Wake Island Airfield has restricted access.
History of the Fifth Bomb Group: The Story of 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (1946) page 34
"Wake Island... On or about June 7 [1942] Colonel Waldron and crew of the 394th Squadron took part in a strike against Jap-held Wake Island. On this mission three enlisted men [Moeller, Scheid and Wagner] of the 394th were lost when they went down with General Clarence Tinker [aboard LB-30 Liberator AL589].
Another mission was performed by the Commanding Officer of the 31st Squadron Major George E. Gober. Major Gober and his crew flew almost halfway to Japan in making a photo reconnaissance of Wake Island. This single B-17 completely surprised the Japs, making to runs over the island before being attacked by six enemy fighters. In 40 minutes of a running fight four of the Zero were shot down by the lone Fortress and one of the Zeros was probably destroyed. The B-7 [sic B-17] and its crew received slight damage only, and returned safely to the home base [Midway Airfield]. This reconnaissance produced the first picture of Wake Island made since the Pearl Harbor attack."

Contribute Information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
October 26, 2020

 

Google Earth
Photo Archive

Google Earth
View in Google Earth
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram