Wednesday, 20 April 2011

wake island

Wake Island ( /ˈweɪk/; also known as Wake Atoll) is a coral atoll having a coastline of 12 miles (19 km) in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu 2,300 statute miles (3,700 km) west to Guam 1,510 statute miles (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 runway of 9,800 feet (3,000 m).
On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush included the atoll as a part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. For statistical purposes, Wake is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

these airfix could be easily modified for the wake defence
Wake is located to the west of the International Date Line and sits in the Wake Island Time Zone, one day ahead of the 50 U.S. states.
If you do head changes with these Britains Americans with their range of the desrt rats eigth army then you've got more or less the correct uniform worn on Wake. You could do the same thing with Airfix but their American infantry don't wear gaiters I think but you could just convert the leg to long trousers.Although Wake is officially called an island in the singular form, it is actually an atoll comprising three islands surrounding a central lagoon:
Island acres hectares
Wake Islet1,367.04553.22
Wilkes Islet197.4479.90
Peale Islet256.83103.94
Wake Island1,821.31737.06
Lagoon (water)1,480600
Sand Flat910370

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.
Wake Island's Main LagoonWake 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 autumn. Typhoons occasionally pass over the island.airfix
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 afterward. All non-reinforced structures were demolished. There were no serious injuries, and the population was evacuated after the storm.
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),[6] driving a 20 ft (6 m) storm surge and waves directly into the lagoon inflicting major damage. 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.
atlantic 54 mm japs this range is hard to track down but if you want them contact me, these japs are well done.

American possession
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 in World War II.Wake Island was first discovered by the Spaniard Álvaro de Mendana in 1586, who named it San Francisco and claimed it in the name of the King of Spain. This claim was internationally recognized, the atoll being viewed as worthless… In 1796 the Englishman Captain Samuel Wake of the merchant vessel Prince William Henry rediscovered it. He gave the atoll its present name, also carried by its largest island… On December 20, 1840, the USS Vincennes brought the explorer Charles Wilkes and the naturalist Titian Peale to the island where they conducted a series of surveys and eventually lent their names to the other two islands of the atoll… During the Spanish-American War, an American troop convoy bound for the Philippines (then owned by Spain) stopped off at Wake. Major General Francis V. Greene hoisted the Stars and Stripes, then with 45 stars, there on July 4, 1898… The subsequent peace treaty which ended the war [with Spain] transferred Wake to the United States.”platoon 2o
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,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.
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

On December 8, 1941, the day after the Attack on Pearl Harbor 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 Islands attacked Wake Island, destroying eight of the 12 F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft belonging to United States Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-211 on the ground. 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 on December 11, the American commander was asked by his superiors if he needed anything. The commander sent back the message, "Send us more Japs!" - a reply which became a popular legend.[17][18] However, when Lt. Col. James Devereux learned after the war that he was credited with that essage he pointed out that contrary to reports he was not the commander on Wake Island 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."
In reality, Commander Winfield S. Cunningham was in overall charge of Wake Island, not Devereux. Cunningham ordered that 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 Japanese code breakers. This was put together at Pearl Harbor and passed on as part of the message. Cunningham and Deveraux both wrote books about the battle and their Japanese imprisonment ordeal.
Denied support from Hawaii, the isolated U.S. garrison was eventually overwhelmed by a reinforced and greatly superior Japanese invasion force on December 23. American casualties numbered 52 military personnel (Navy and Marine) and approximately 70 civilians killed. Japanese losses exceeded 700 dead, with some estimates ranging as high as 1,000. Wake's defenders sank two Japanese destroyers and one submarine, and shot down 24 Japanese aircraft.j
In the aftermath of the battle, most of the captured civilians and military personnel were sent to POW camps in Asia, though some of the civilian laborers were enslaved by the Japanese and tasked with improving the island's defenses.
Captain 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 later fighting on foot when his plane was destroyed to defend the island. Many of his comrades were also highly decorated for their part in the fighting. The Wake Island Device was created for American veterans of the battle to wear on their Pacific Theater of Operations ribbon.
The Japanese-occupied island (called by them Otori-Shima or "Bird Island" for its birdlike shape) was bombed several times by American aircraft; one of these raids was the first mission for future United States President George H. W. Bush.
After a successfu

Marine Corps, 1939 to 1941 from boot camp to wake. The story of a fighting marine.

Boot camp.  Every Marine has his own stories about boot camp. Here’s one of mine, about a lad from Arkansas, who spoke a backwoods dialect that even his fellow Southerners could barely understand.  “Arkie” addressed his first letter home to his parents simply as “General Store, Arkansas.” When the letter was returned as undeliverable, being a good ol’ country boy with a thick skin, he survived the subsequent harassment by Drill Instructors and fellow recruits without much visible anguish, and was still with us when we marched in our graduation parade. (Contrary to rumor, he never became Commandant, and certainly not a sergeant major.)Im not sure if the Americans on wake still had lewis guns, they were badly equipped and may have had them
Our platoon had about a 20 percent drop-out rate.  The DIs were merciless and laggards were not tolerated.  Our senior DI was Corporal Robert A Morehead, a credit to his profession, the epitome of a Marine DI, and fervently hated and feared by every member of our platoon.  Among the many reasons was the time he escorted our cleaning detail into the head, dipped his canteen cup in the urinal, took a healthy swig, and told us that after we cleaned the head, each of us would be required to do the same.  In preparation for this terrible fate, we murdered microbes with a strenuous vigor that wore our cleaning brushes down to a nub.
Later, afflicted with “Cat fever” and standing at attention in ranks on the parade field, I furtively wiped my overflowing nose and was immediately rewarded with a stinging slap on my right cheek and Corporal Morehead’s dreaded voice behind me: “What’s the matter, Boy?  Does your face itch?  I’ll scratch it for you!” Many years later, in the Third Marine Division on the island of Okinawa, Sergeant Major Winslow would visit Lieutenant Colonel Morehead and tell him that, speaking as the self-appointed voice of the 57th Platoon, all was forgiven.i said that airfix didnt have soldiers wearing gaiters but here they are so just do a head change with their desert rats and convert the small things worn,
Our platoon was a cultural melting pot, with the majority from the South, but nary a black face, for this was long before Harry Truman desegregated the Corps. Some of us had been on the road, as I had been.  Only a few had graduated from high school.  Some of us had to have help in writing letters home. Education requirements for new Marines were anything but stringent in 1939.  My entire enlistment test consisted of reading aloud a paragraph from a book furnished by the recruiting officer, and it was obvious that even this minimal standard had not been enforced for some of my platoon-mates. 
Each of us was married to a Springfield .03 rifle, only to be divorced when promoted to staff NCO grade, an extremely unlikely event on a first four-year enlistment. Should a rare transfer between duty stations occur, we would carry our rifles with us on bus or train.  For some reason we were not informed that we had been assigned serial numbers but were told that forgetting our rifle serial number was only slightly less serious a crime than losing one’s rifle – allegedly a general court martial offense.  Sixty-five years later, I still remember my rifle number.  It was 1025827.
We marched, we double-timed, we marched, we did the marching manual of arms, we carried buckets of sand dredged from the bay as reminders of our failures to heed the large voice of the DI, and we marched some more.  Each drill instructor took pride in developing his own unique style of conducting close order drill, musical chanting cadences that are impossible to reproduce in print, a tradition still followed by today’s Marine Corps DIs. 
54mm elastolin civilians. the geezer on the left is perfect.
In the squad bay after a long day on the grinder, I discovered that if a Texan were within hearing distance, it was not wise to even hint that the state of Texas was not the pride and glory of the Union.  Nor was it a good idea to bring up the Civil War, unless to praise the generalship of Robert E. Lee and decry the pillage and plunder of Sherman’s march from Atlanta to the sea.
Eventually, all good things come to an end, and having survived the rigors of boot camp with my personality only slightly less intact, I reported in to the First Defense Battalion, FMF, temporarily located in a tent city on the edge of the same parade ground that had been my stomping ground for the strenuous weeks of boot camp. We would soon move into wooden barracks that were under construction nearby.
Marine Defense Battalions were new “state of the art” organizations designed to occupy and defend advance naval bases, in case of war.  They contained five-inch coastal gun batteries, three-inch anti-aircraft gun batteries, machine gun batteries, both anti-aircraft and anti-personnel, and a searchlight platoon to look for enemy planes after sundown. (This was before the age of radar.) Dog, Easy, and Fox batteries were all 3 inch antiaircraft.  I wound up in Dog.
As a result of FDR’s infamous Economy Act of 1935, which reduced the pay of all federal employees by 30 percent, a Marine private’s pay was down from $30 to $21 a month, with 20 cents withheld for the Navy Hospital Fund.  Qualifying as sharpshooter on the rifle range had earned me $3.00 a month, almost paying for the $5,000 government life insurance policy which cost $3.20 a month.
A small beer was only ten cents a glass in such elite establishments as “Bradley’s Five and Dime” in San Diego’s downtown Plaza, and just around the corner a minimal entrance fee allowed us to watch from the balcony as scantily clad cuties would banter with “Say No More Joe,” at the local vaudeville establishment whose name I have forgotten. For the sex starved, as were we all, there was the Molino Rojo just across the border in Tia Juana, advertised as the largest whorehouse in the world.
Unfortunately, the residue from my monthly pay, after repaying incidental loans and buying such necessities as a haircut, laundry and crucial PX items, would often just barely cover the bus ride into town. We also had to pay our “jawbone” debts.  Platoon Sergeant Johnalson E. “Big” Wright sold jawbone pies, whole or by the slice.  Some enterprising individuals ran jawbone poker games.  Others gave jawbone haircuts or rendered other services payable on payday, the meaning of the term, “jawbone.” There was also a flourishing shylock loan service available for the truly desperate – five dollars now for ten dollars back on payday.  The loan sharks hired the biggest goons in the outfit as enforcers, in case there might be thoughts of reneging in any victim’s mind. The only solution for us low-ranking liberty-hounds was to trust our luck in the poker, blackjack and dice games that sprang up throughout the barracks twice a month on pay-days.
We were up against the old pros; sun-wizened gunnies and platoon sergeants who preyed upon us like the sharks they were. They roved through the games, intimidating us with superior bankrolls that would often win them more pots than their cards.  Our first sergeant augmented his meager salary by playing a “take no prisoners” brand of poker with his troops.  The odds were against us privates and PFCs in this semi-monthly fandango, but to coin a phrase, it was the only game in town.
More often than not, my few remaining bucks melted away in these games, but occasionally my luck changed and I won enough to “hit the beach” in downtown San Diego or Tia Juana.  One famous night I could do nothing wrong and rebuilt my last ten cents into the magnificent sum of $21.00.  The hope of repeating this heroic feat ensured my presence at the poker and blackjack tables forevermore, win, lose or draw. The gambling scenes in From Here to Eternity (the book, not the movie) seem to prove that in the late thirties and early forties there was little difference in the barracks life of Marines and soldiers, whether in San Diego, Oahu, or elsewhere.
In my early days in the Corps, I do not recall any “patriots” among us, in spite of Tom Brokaw’s well advertised claim to the contrary.  We members of Brokaw’s so-called “greatest generation” joined the Corps because there were no civilian jobs available and the Marine Corps offered a steady job with board and room and a monthly salary, measly though it may have been. One of our old jokes told of the recruit who joined up because he heard that the Marine Corps paid 21.50 a week, a goodly sum in the late thirties.  He discovered this meant 21 meals and fifty cents.  A more realistic variation on the theme told of the recruit who was promised 3.75 a day, only to discover that this meant three meals and 75 cents.
Our senior NCOs of the late 1930s were a hard-bitten, wise-cracking crew of realist renegades, who would have hooted down with ribald derision any suggestion that they were “patriots.”
putting down the workers in latin america
Many of them had participated in the brutal expeditions Marines had conducted against the brown and black people of Central America and the Caribbean in the 1920s and 30s and had personal knowledge of the fact that these expeditions had nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with America’s business interests. sandino
The Marines who chased Sandino through the hills of Nicaragua and “pacified” the guerrillas in Haiti were as mercenary a military force as the French Foreign Legion.  They understood very well that they were not fighting to “save America.” They were fighting for Standard Oil and the United Fruit Company, and they were doing a damned good job, not because they were “patriotic,“ but because warfare was their profession, they took pride in doing the job right, and they had a reputation to uphold.
“Old Gimlet Eye” General Smedley D. Butler, winner of two Congressional Medals of Honor, said it best:
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of our country’s most agile military force. . .the Marine Corps.  I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to major general.  And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.  . . .gangster, the man who really runs the usa

Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.  I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National Bank boys to collect revenues in.  I helped in the raping of a half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.  The record is long.  I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909/12.  I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.  In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, ‘a swell racket.’ I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotion.  Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints.  The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts.  I operated on three continents.”  (1935)
As I write this essay, I sometimes wonder if any of the Marines bogged down in the bloody shambles of Iraq may be having second thoughts about their mission similar to Old Gimlet Eye’s mea culpa way back in 1935.  The French, as usual, have a phrase which covers the situation, which translates as “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
I have a San Diego 1939 memory, which may be false, but even false memories often contain a kernel of truth.  Were there signs in some business establishment windows that read, “No servicemen or dogs allowed.”?  Maybe the story is a myth or a remnant of a failing memory; nevertheless the words truly represented the attitudes of many Americans toward their country’s military folks in the late 1930s. San Diego’s attitude toward the military was different as well.

“No servicemen or dogs allowed, a whole different world.”ED

As the winds of war overturned empires, shattered the institutions of Europe and threatened to engulf the Western hemisphere, that attitude suffered a dramatic turnaround.  When the draft was instituted in 1940, the reversal was complete. No longer were we associated with dogs; we had become potential saviors of Western civilization.  Accordingly, the Economy Act was revoked and our pay went through the roof – a magnificent $50 per month per private.  Some of us experienced a retroactive transformation in our motives for joining the Corps.  We now had “patriots” among us who insisted that the only reason they signed up was to keep those evil hordes of “Japs,” “Heinies,” or “Wops” from invading America.  Some of us even began reading the newspapers.
But to hell with the contradictions, let the celebrations and festivities begin!  The Navy Relief Carnival of 1940 brought Hollywood actors and actresses and a budding comedian named Red Skelton the transformed parade ground of the Marine Corps Base, San Diego. I searched in vain along the red-white-and-blue-bunting decorated midway that once had been the parade ground for former carnie buddies, and warned my fellow Marines against heeding the pitchmen of the rigged games of “chance.” The visiting actors and actresses gave awkward little speeches reminding us that we were now patriots, Red was a howling success with his “Guzzler’s Gin” routine, and a stubby little Grumann fighter plane, pride of the Corps, had landed on the parade field to be admired by the large crowd of patriotic visitors. Tn-1 We Marines silently thanked the powers-that-be for the beer stands, where visiting patriotic citizens lined up to buy us Marine patriots as many beers as we could hold.
After we moved from our tent city on the edge of the parade ground, Dog Battery occupied the upper southeast wing of our brand new H shaped barracks.  We slept in open squad-bays in double-deck bunks with footlockers stowed beneath and got to know each other very well, sometimes too well.  Bottom bunks were bought, sold, connived for, and sometimes fought for.  Senior PFCs or junior corporals marched us to chow, where we waited in ranks outside the mess-hall until it was our turn to enter.
(A random memory: On festive days such as Thanksgiving when menus were printed we would enjoy “Turkey a la Bambalere,” in honor of Chief Mess Sergeant Bambalere who once informed me in heavily accented English while I was on mess duty that beans were “goot for troops” because beans “make’m fart.”)
Unmarried senior NCOs occupied rooms in the crossbars of our H barracks, next to the heads. After working hours we only saw them when they would exit their rooms to find out what the ruckus was all about in one of the squad bays, or when they sat in at one of the payday gambling tables.
At reveille, Master Gunnery Sergeant John W. Krawie would emerge from his bachelor cubicle all spic and span and dressed for the day to roust Dog Battery troops out for roll call and physical drill under arms. trojan Muttering curses under our breaths, still buttoning trousers and shirts – never mind the shoelaces — we would grab our rifles from the racks and fall out behind the barracks for twenty minutes of “up on shoulders” and other bodily contortions with our rifles in a strenuous military ballet entitled “Physical drill under arms” conducted by MGySgt Krawie, possessor of all the sterling attributes of a professional Marine NCO except one – a sense of humor.  This serious lack kept him from discerning what was important and what was trivial or ridiculous among the orders of the day and consequently lost him much of the respect he otherwise would have automatically received from his troops.  Unfortunately, the Marine Corps had many other NCOs and officers with the same affliction, as I was to discover in the years to come.
As a result of the draft and the rapid expansion of the Corps, the customary strict separation between officer and enlisted ranks in the Corps was beginning to ease somewhat, due to the infiltration of college educated enlisted men, reserve officers who were more civilian than Marine, and temporary commissions awarded senior NCOs to fill leadership vacancies in newly created units.  But the process was still gradual, and I was not to see its full effect until after the war.  In 1940, enlisted men were still being used as handy servants for officers when and if required.  Dog Battery furnished Major Devereux’s stable boy, and I still recall the merciless bantering PFC Shelby Pou received for being so selected.
Enlisted men were routinely detailed to serve as waiters and flunkies at officers’ parties.  Official pronouncements spoke of “Officers and their Ladies, enlisted men and their wives.” In keeping with the motto, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt,” our officers were mostly invisible, except for Saturday inspections and parades. Down in the ranks, we were convinced that NCOs ran the Marine Corps. Perhaps they did. (And still do?)trojan
Shortly after I enlisted my father had written me a letter containing this advice: “Always remember that an officer is always right no matter how wrong he is.” There would be many times in my Marine Corps career that this valuable piece of information would keep me out of trouble.
Barracks talk was ribald and heavily sprinkled with obscenities.  It was mandatory to use some form of the word “fuck” in every sentence, which sometimes led to truly creative conversations.  There have been many changes in the Corps since my day, but according to the recent movie, Jarhead, this tradition has not disappeared as perhaps it should have, along with “skivvies,” “tie-ties,” canvas leggings, blanco, and the .03 rifle.
The details of how it came about are long forgotten, but suddenly Pat Malone reappeared in my life. He was now living with a foster family in an exclusive residential area of Los Angeles and wrote a letter inviting me up for a weekend visit.  How he not only found me, but had found a foster family who had all but adopted him, are facts that have been deleted from my ancient memory banks.  But Pat was a member of that rare breed, who, as the old Marine saying goes, could fall in a shithouse and come out smelling like a rose.
I hitchhiked to Palos Verdes and became acquainted with his new family, and reacquainted with him.  Smelling like a rose, indeed.  His foster parents had a large, almost palatial, estate on the cliffs of Palos Verdes, overlooking the Pacific, and Pat was attending college.  I recall a magnificent lawn that reached from here to the edge of the cliff, the friendly hospitality of my host and hostess, and an exuberant Irish setter who convinced me that if ever again I had a dog, this was the breed.  Pat and I had a great reunion, and promised to keep in touch.
Back in San Diego, the days dragged on.  We learned the intricacies of the 3 inch antiaircraft gun, practiced shooting down enemy planes, and occasionally ventured onto Kearney Mesa for “snooping and pooping,” or sham guerilla warfare.  It occurs to me, in retrospect, that in preparing us for war with Japan, some of our Marine leaders were still chasing Sandino through the hills of Nicaragua.
Some time in 1940 the 7th Defense Battalion formed at the opposite end of the parade ground, and some of our members became its nucleus.  Dog Battery furnished several men, including Ray Dunkleberger, who would turn up many times later in the Winslow annals.  The 7th Defense Battalion would wind up in Samoa several months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The First Defense Battalion also got its marching (or sailing) orders.  In January 1941, we sailed for Oahu, most of us on the carrier USS Enterprise. When we received news of this impending event, I summoned enough courage to enter the first sergeant’s office to ask for leave to visit my family in Oregon before we sailed.  Upon hearing my daring request, First Sergeant Cary Loftin reached into a drawer, grabbed my service record book, scanned it hastily and heartily guffawed.  “Ho, ho, Winslow!  You’re still a goddam boot!  Wait until you have at least a cruise (four years) in this outfit before you ask for leave!  Now get out of my office!” (One of the much needed reforms instituted by the Doolittle Commission at the end of World War II was a guarantee of thirty days leave each year for all servicemen.  There were no such guarantees in the Marine Corps of 1941.)
Upon arriving at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base we were installed in two-story wooden barracks similar to those we left behind in San Diego, which miraculously were still there the last time I looked in 2001.
For those of us who read the newspapers and listened to the news on the radio, there seemed little doubt that war with Japan was imminent, and it appeared that we were getting closer to the scenes of possible action.  We spent our first several months at Pearl Harbor on interior guard duty, guarding the tank farms and docked vessels of the Pacific fleet.  One of our sentries earned everlasting fame when he refused to allow the captain of a submarine to return to his boat after a night in town.
The high point of our stay in Hawaii was an anti-aircraft night firing exercise.  We finally had an opportunity to put our months of boring training to the test. Our target was a large white sleeve towed behind a plane.  Without radar, it was necessary for our fire control operators to make visual contact with the target, so our searchlights came into play.  When the roving searchlights finally located the target, our fire control crew furiously cranked the data through the primitive uncomputerized target acquisition system on to the gun platforms and we commenced firing. It was a system where one hit out of twenty shots was considered success. As I recall, we had enough hits to satisfy expectations.
We camped in squad tents on the beach at Nanakuli for this exercise and played in the surf between trips to the gun positions.  Just across the road was an army rest camp, Camp Kalanianaole, equipped with a jukebox and an outside dance floor that reminded me of a boxing ring.  Bare-footed native girls in swirling gingham skirts with gardenias in their hair would swing and sway with you to the latest jukebox Dorsey or Artie Shaw hits, if you asked them nicely.  There was also an enlisted club for us beer topers, and down the road a piece a palm-thatched hut where a fierce-looking Kanake and his rotund spouse sold other potables, including a very cheap and very deadly brand of locally brewed sake.
This alluring combination was too much for my bunkie, Curly Taylor.  Beer AND wine, and both dirt cheap.  Curly’s real name was Rudolph, but we called him Curly because he had none.  Curls, that is; no hair on the top of his head, but a mat of hair on the rest of his body that would make a sheep dog proud.  Rudy’s voice had never changed, and he talked in his sleep. While sound asleep in the middle of the night in a “men-only” barracks, a loud feminine voice suddenly breaking the silence is a startling experience.  We never did get used to it.
At Nanakuli, it became a common task for Rudy’s buddies to carry him home from wherever he had passed out from the lethal combination of beer and sake. One morning he was missing at roll call.  Rudy and I slept in the same tent, but I had no idea where he was.  We explored the area until suddenly someone spotted a bald head bobbing around way out in the surf.  Several of us raced off on a rescue mission, and sure enough, there was Rudy, paddling weakly but resolutely out to sea.  In response to someone’s “What the hell are you doing, Rudy?”, he responded, “I’ve had enough of this goddamned island, I’m swimmin’ back to the States!”
Back at Pearl, before and after the shoot, we stood day on and day off guard duty, which meant that on your day off, you should catch up on your sleep, not carouse around downtown Honolulu searching for Mamie Stover among the establishments on Hotel Street, or you would surely regret it on your next tour of guard duty.  Regret it, I did.  Standing the 12 to 4 midnight watch, I found that I could not even stand up when I tried to walk my post.  I staggered and stumbled and was in danger of falling down.  I was literally asleep on my feet.  Just for a moment I crawled into the cab of a six-by-six truck where I was discovered shortly thereafter by the corporal of the guard, fast asleep. 
Sleeping on watch is one of the most serious offenses a Marine can commit.  Thanks to a heretofore blameless record and the testimony of Battery Executive Officer 2dLt Cy Emrich at my deck court martial that except for this dreadful lapse, my character was as pure as the driven snow, this very serious misdeed only cost me my hard-earned PFC stripe.
The Paris twins from my Eugene High School graduating class of 1939 somehow found me (or I found them) and we had a reunion in downtown Honolulu.  One of the twins was in the Army at Schofield Barracks, the other worked for Hawaiian Electric.  As expected of hot-blooded young haoles looking for sexual surcease on the island of Oahu in 1941, we headed for Hotel Street.  One of the twins discovered to his dismay that his potential partner was a former classmate whom we all remembered very well.  That “reunion” gave us much too much to think about and we called it a day.
Somewhere up the chain of command, the decision was made to split the First Defense Battalion into three elements to establish forward bases on three small islands way out there in the Pacific, Palmyra, Johnston, and Wake, the remotest of them all.
Our battery Executive Officer, Second Lieutenant Cy Emrich, called us together in the squad bay.  We stood at ease in front of our lockers.  I will paraphrase his speech.
“Men, you all know that it is highly possible that we will be at war with Japan in a matter of just a few months, maybe weeks.  Our battalion has been selected to send troops to Wake Island, which is closer to Japan than it is to the United States. If any of you have family obligations or other personal problems that might interfere with this deployment, please just take one pace forward.”
We looked at each other out of the corners of our eyes.  None of us moved.
“Good!’ said Cy Emrich.  “You all just volunteered!”
And that’s how I volunteered to become a prisoner of war.
Between World Wars I and II, Marines transported to faraway places in the Western Hemisphere to subdue the uprisings of uppity brown or black folks often traveled on the USS Chaumont, a troop ship named after a World War I engagement in France. According to the troops who survived these voyages, the letters of its name stood for “Christ Help All Us Marines On Navy Transports.”
In August 1941 we traveled to Wake Island on a clone of the Chaumont, a cargo vessel hastily modified amidst rumors of war to carry troops as well as cargo with very little thought given to amenities for its passengers. The temporary tiers of bunks in the holds of the were so stifling and claustrophobic that most of us slept on deck under the stars, and the weather cooperated. The limited galley facilities, designed for feeding a ship’s crew of a dozen or so, were overwhelmed by the task of serving several hundred Marine chowhounds. After surviving the interminable line for breakfast, the troops would immediately line up for the noon meal, and after finishing that paltry serving, line up once again for supper. During daylight hours, there was always a chow line on the USS Regulus.regulus
But Private Winslow didn’t stand in chow lines; I was on mess duty again. The Army and Air Force equivalent to Navy and Marine Corps mess duty is Kitchen Police (KP) for several days, often administered as a punishment, so I have been told. One problem with punishing an erring private with a session of KP is the possibility of anonymous retribution by someone who believes he is being punished unfairly. Should I pee in the pea soup? Should I add insects au gratin to the chowder? Ask any Army or Air Force veteran. They will tell you tales.
In contrast, the Navy and Marine Corps, in my day, considered a month of mess duty to be a normal assignment for lower ranking enlisted men, provided that it was administered fairly, supposedly only once each calendar year. In my case, I had doubts about the fairness. My recollection is that I had more than my share of mess duty while a fortunate few somehow skated with none. My first assignment after graduating from boot camp was a month of mess duty in the boot camp mess hall, where Chief Messman Curly Taylor tried to flim-flam his fellow messmen into contributing to a fund for stainless steel tables to make our work easier, so he said. As previously noted, con-artist Curly and I would both wind up in Dog Battery, 1st Defense Battalion after surviving our thirty day tour of boot camp mess duty.
Wake Island, August 1941. There are no harbors, so after our ten day voyage from Pearl – slowed by towing a Pan American barge loaded with supplies and equipment – we disembarked on other barges that were towed into the one narrow inlet that led through the reefs, where we scrambled onto the makeshift dock and moved into nearby strong-back tents that had been abandoned by the civilian contractors after they built their wooden barracks across the island.
Wake is a coral atoll shaped like a squished boomerang, surrounded by an extensive coral reef. The land is divided into three separate islets by narrow channels leading from the central lagoon to the sea. The largest and central islet is Wake; the southeasterly one is Wilkes. The northeastern arm of the boomerang is Peale Island; all three islets named in honor of various British and American explorers and naval officers who visited the atoll and found it wanting during the era of Pacific exploration.
On the Peale side of the channel separating Wake from Peale stood the Pan American hotel, where passengers on PanAm flights to and from the far East laid over for the night in mid-twentieth-century sub-tropical luxury. The periodic landings of the famous China Clipper in the lagoon were an eagerly awaited event for the inhabitants of Wake; the Clipper brought our mail. The PanAm hotel was manned by young Chamorro men from Guam, cheerful and happy-go-lucky lads who would wind up in the same fix as the rest of us – prisoners of the Japanese.

We Marines were still armed with bolt action Springfield .03 rifles and outfitted with soup-dish World War I helmets. The new Garand M1 semi-automatic rifles and sensibly designed helmets that other units were getting had not trickled down to the Wake Detachment of the First Defense Battalion. We did have newly issued pith helmets as protection against the sub-tropical sun, but so had Kipling’s British Tommies in 19th century India.
In contrast to our obsolescent individual equipment, our three inch antiaircraft guns were almost state of the art with lessons learned from the ongoing Battle of Britain incorporated into their fire control systems, with the significant exception of radar, which was still sitting on the docks at Pearl Harbor, due to well-founded fears that if Wake fell to the Japanese, so also would the secrets of this marvelous new invention.
While we worked from dawn to dusk filling sandbags on Wake, the Luftwaffe continued to rain bombs on Britain, Hitler’s and Mussolini’s troops were on the march in Europe and Africa, and the Japanese were celebrating their conquest of China’s coastal areas by sending settlers by the thousands to their new mainland territory of Manchukuo, formerly Chinese Manchuria.these can be converted with british steel helmet as they have gaiters by atlantic
The 1937 bombing and strafing of the American gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River by Japanese planes had stirred up a diplomatic hornet’s nest until it was “solved” by monetary reparations and profuse apologies from the Japanese government, but the systematic butchery of more than a quarter of a million men, women and children in Nanking by the Japanese army in the same year, which appalled even German army observers, created scarcely a ripple of international attention.
The welfare of Chinese people was probably not a burning issue in a nation where the “Chinese Exclusion Act” of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924 had respectively banned further immigration of Chinese laborers and prohibited the immigration of any person born in Asia; the latter measure so popular that only six senators voted against it. It was not until 1943, when Chinese and Americans were fighting side-by-side against the Japanese in Burma and elsewhere, that these two blatantly racist measures were repealed.
no idea of these Japs to be honest
A 2005 Google search turns up no record of an official US response to the Nanking “incident,” as the Japanese call it, only a brief note that President Roosevelt leaked the story to the press and subsequent articles appeared in the New York Times, Readers Digest and Time Magazine, “which were greeted with skepticism from the American public. The stories smuggled out of Nanking seemed almost too fantastic to be believed.” For good reason, the massacre has been called the “forgotten Holocaust.” The late Iris Chang’s best-selling book The Rape of Nanking may keep it from being completely forgotten.
Among us Wake troopers in the waning months of 1941, such lofty affairs of state were of interest only to the few who listened to short wave radio news or devoured the latest edition of the two-page Wake Island WigWag, which capsulized the latest national and international news. Those of us who kept up with such news believed that war with Japan was imminent. In a letter to my sister I wrote jokingly, I thought, that any day now she would see headlines in the local paper announcing that Japanese bombers had wiped out Wake.
The young are by nature optimistic and think little of tomorrow, so we troopers ignored the warnings of war, worked our asses off, and guzzled our quota of formaldehyde-laced beers during our scarce free time. To relax after a long day of wrestling sandbags, the gamblers among us played jaw-bone poker and blackjack. In one of my rare outbreaks of forethought, I had made an allotment of about half of my monthly pay to my parents before sailing for Wake, so my participation in this bimonthly ritual was severely curtailed.
Much, perhaps too much, has been written about the defense of Wake Island. I have seven books about this brief minor engagement on my bookshelf, and I don’t have them all. As in all histories that rely upon the unreliable memories of men, some of what has been written about Wake is accurate but much of it is balderdash. Even the most magisterial of the Wake chronicles, Gregory Urwin’s Facing Fearful Odds, is not immune.atlantic jeep
Greg’s book contains the testimonies of several Wake Islanders that we worked seven days a week and my ancient memory cells are 97.5 percent sure that our Catholic commanding officer gave us Sundays off even after he stepped up the work schedule.
There seems to be a human tendency to exaggerate the difficulties of a difficult experience, especially if doing so makes one’s experience seem more heroic. And so it goes, with many of the stories told by Wake Islanders, but not, I hope, with this one. I was not then, nor am now, a hero.
Except when necessary to fill in gaps in the narrative, this version of the Wake story will be that of a rear rank private who is only aware of events taking place within a radius of about a hundred yards around him. Look elsewhere for grand strategies, heroic sagas and momentous outcomes concerning the defense of Wake Island.
The 1100 or so civilians working for Morrison and Knudsen out of Boise, Idaho who were building the airstrip and other island defenses had comfortable wooden barracks and good food. Across the island, we Marines had inherited the squad tents, outdoor privies and showers that had originally housed the civilians, along with a miserly stateside food ration allowance per Marine that was completely inadequate in our overseas environment. Our Commanding Officer, Major Devereux, when asked by the Civilian Contractor Honcho Dan Teters if the civilians could help out in the ration department, famously responded, “Marines do not accept charity.”atlantic americans
More than a few of our enterprising troopers ignored their commanding officer’s pious declaration and found their way to the contractors’ camp for “charitable” leftovers. The rest of us filled our daily quota of sand bags and grumbled about the chow as Marines have always done, but this time with good reason.
To drown our sorrows we beer-drinkers guzzled our weekly quota of two canned beers per man. Canned beer was a recent beverage break-through made to order for thirsty Marines stranded on an island in the middle of the Pacific. The infant beer-canning industry had “solved” the problem of preserving beer in corrosion-susceptible steel cans by treating it with a miniscule amount of formaldehyde, which the human body can tolerate in small dosages. But small dosages were not for the confirmed beer drinkers among us. Those of us who added our non-drinking buddies’ beer quotas to our own wound up with unforgettable formaldehyde hangovers.
Some of us had a craving for the hard stuff that only the officers and senior civilians legally possessed on Wake. My only bottle of hair tonic – 40 percent alcohol – disappeared one day. (Yes, I had hair in those days!) I immediately fingered my hairless alcoholic buddy Rudy Taylor, who cheerfully confessed to the crime and asked if I had any more stowed away.
Senior NCO’s and officers and some helpful civilians had access to fishing equipment and boats, and augmented our meager mess hall fare with catches of shark, tuna, and other fish. From necessity and not by design, we all became fish eaters several days a week.
Thanksgiving Day in Marine mess halls in those days was customarily a day of culinary splendor when the mess sergeant could bask in the sated smiles of his satisfied customers. The menu was traditional: turkey with all the trimmings, mince and pumpkin pie for dessert, and seconds all around, a glorious feast.
On Wake Island in 1941, our Thanksgiving Day menu was ox-tongue and rice, which engendered the closest thing to a mutiny that I have seen in thirty-one years of Marine Corps service. We pounded on tables and raised our voices in incredulous disagreement with this dastardly gastronomic insult. In response to the uproar, Major Devereux and other officers and senior NCOs emerged from their separate mess cubicles and in due course quelled the incipient rebellion. Muttering obscenities under our breaths against the “powers-that-be,” we consoled ourselves with our magnificent Thanksgiving Day dessert of canned peaches.

Dog, Easy, and Fox Batteries, the three-inch AAA gun components of the First Defense Battalion, had each contributed troops to the Wake Island detail, but there were not enough of us to man each of the 12 guns we had on the island. And so it was with the 5 inch guns and the machine gun batteries.
In essence, the Wake detail was a glorified working party, although we also constituted skeleton crews of gunners, fire control operators, communicators, and so on. In total numbers, we were between a third and fourth of a complete defense battalion. The remainder of the original First Defense Battalion was split between its headquarters in Pearl Harbor and detachments on Johnston and Palmyra Islands. We understood that we were preparing the gun positions for another full fledged defense battalion to take over and that we would eventually rejoin our original units after we had fortified the island.
While the civilian contractors worked on the airstrip, ammo bunkers, and other tasks that required the laying of concrete and the use of massive machinery, we troopers in the 3 inch AAA detachment filled sandbags from dawn to dusk six days a week for the 3 inch gun emplacements.
During our precious leisure hours I explored the wonderland of the reefs with facemask and snorkel and fished with hand lines near the garbage dump. One day I butchered one of my catches, a five foot shark, with a Bowie knife and watched in amazement as its heart continued to beat for at least an hour on a coral outcrop. Another time I fled in terror upon meeting a huge manta ray at the edge of the reef, not realizing until reading up on denizens of the deep many years later that this shy beast was probably more terrified than I was.
Our 3-inch commander was Captain Brighte D. Godbold, a southern gentleman with a buttery deep south accent you could cut with a knife, unchanged in lo these many years, as I discovered as we exchanged reminiscences during our Kansas City reunion in 2004; General Godbold still spry and alert at 94.
As was customary in pre-world war II days, we saw very little of our officers, except for weekly inspections and parades. When we did see them at other times, it usually meant that there was a problem. I had such a problem, which came about from our refueling operations for B17’s headed for the Philippines where they would eventually be destroyed on the ground due to the unforgivable incompetence of General Douglas MacArthur.
Once again I was escorted into the presence of Major Devereux, this time because I had committed the dreadful offense of backing my truck into an airplane, causing enough damage for the plane to remain on the island for repairs after its squadron mates had left. Lieutenant Cy Emrich testified on my behalf that because my heart was pure the accident should be forgiven, and Major Devereux fortunately took heed and all was forgiven except for a memorable chewing out. Platoon Sergeant “Big” Wright once told me that for a man who means well, I sure did get myself into a lot of trouble, and that may be the story of my life.
Second Lieutenant Emrich returned to Pearl Harbor before the Japanese attack and thus missed all the excitement on Wake. After the war, a group of us Wake Islanders awaiting transportation back to the states on the island of Guam received a memorable and heart-warming visit from Lieutenant Colonel Cy Emrich. Rapid promotions are common in wartime, but from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel in less than four years meant that here was a real comer. If he had not been prematurely struck down by some mysterious tropical ailment he brought back from the South Pacific, Cy Emrich would have eventually become Commandant of the Marine Corps, in my humble opinion.
Wake was, and still is, a nesting place for sea birds of all sizes and descriptions. We called them all “goony-birds,” an apt description for their waddling awkwardness on the ground, but certainly not for their awesome grace in flight. There was also a bounteous festival of rats, half the size of the ordinary stateside version, which someone with more knowledge than I once described as Polynesian rats, presumably descended from deserter-rats from ships that had visited Wake in the past. They were ubiquitous. They crawled over our bodies in the night. They fought an unceasing battle with hermit crabs, which were also ubiquitous, to force their tender rear ends out of their temporary shells and become a tasty rat-snack.
On December Sixth I received word that my father had died in Eugene, and once again I entered the sanctum sanctorum of the first sergeant’s office to ask for leave. Somewhat to my surprise, this time my request received tentative approval, subject to the availability of air transportation to and from the States.
While waiting for the mills of the gods to grind out the necessary paperwork for emergency leave because of my father’s death, I was posted on sentry duty on Wilkes Island, bedded down in a squad tent, when not on watch, among the rats and hermit crabs whose squealing and clicking claws kept me awake most of the night when I was not walking post.
The next day, Monday, December 8th, just as our guard detail was sitting down to breakfast in the mess hall, bleary-eyed and hungry for hotcakes, we were rudely interrupted by NCO’s and officers rushing into the mess hall to order us to our tents to pick up rifles, helmets and field packs and stand by to man our guns.
Greg Urwin tells us that the “demented medley” of Field Music Alvin Waronker’s bugled Call to Arms “threw the entire camp into confusion.” I beg to differ. We had become so accustomed to Waronker’s “demented medleys” that we paid absolutely no attention to them. He would even screw up the three simple notes of “chow call.” I have often wondered why a man with absolutely no musical ability chose to become a Marine Corps field musician, let alone how he managed to survive any kind of screening process. Was it because musicians were assumed to be ineligible for duty in a combat area? Well, that didn’t work!
We boarded trucks and headed for our guns across the island. When we arrived at our positions, we broke out 3 inch shells from their wooden cases and laid them next to the gun platform, ready for action. We heard from Big Wright through the sound power phones that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. We sat at our positions and waited. Noon came. Chow trucks arrived. We took our mess gear out of our packs and left our positions to line up for chow.
Emerging from a rain cloud over our airfield we suddenly saw airplanes, many of them, in tight formation, and almost immediately after someone said those must be our planes, we heard the explosions of their bombs. We rushed to our gun and managed to fire five or six desperate un-aimed shots at the invading aircraft as they disappeared over the horizon. We missed them all.nardi italy
And so our war began.
Of the twelve 3 inch guns on the island, only Dog Battery’s four were hooked up to our only director and height finder. Easy Battery received target information by telephone from Dog Battery’s director crew. Dog and Easy Battery’s guns were clustered here and there in the dense underbrush that forested most of Wake and Peale Island. (See Map 1) The four 3 inch guns on Wilkes assigned to non-existent Fox Battery would remain crewless and useless until the 23d of December, when one of them would make history, or at least a historical footnote, as the site of the actions that in part earned the only Congressional Medal of Honor awarded for the battle of Wake Island.
We had only enough troops to man three Dog and Easy Battery guns.  The fourth Dog Battery gun was manned by a civilian gun crew commanded by Sergeant Walter Bowsher, whom I admired for his cheerful “what the hell” attitude, in contrast to the prayer-ridden pusillanimity of my gun captain, nicknamed the “Deacon.”
The Deacon always dove headfirst into our bunker ahead of the rest of his crew to escape the Japanese bombs coming down the line, several times breaking his sound power phone lines in the process. His midnight sobbing prayers in the middle of the gun pit for God to save his sorry ass were even more contemptible.
After the first bombing attack on December 8th, Japanese bombers visited us again on a daily basis, only at a much higher altitude.  The official history gives our three inch guns credit for shooting down several of them in the next two weeks.  I recall cheering and celebrating our supposed hits as we watched smoke trailing from several bombers as they disappeared over the horizon, but for confirmed kills, the fighter pilots of VMF 211 shot down more planes than did our three inch guns, even though eight of their twelve Grumman Wildcats, which had arrived with their pilots and a skeleton ground crew just four days before the war began, had been destroyed on the ground in the first day’s bombing.
Twenty-two Marines from VMF 211 were killed in the first bombing attack.  Three sailors from the small boat crews that ferried supplies and passengers from ship to shore also died, as did one civilian and ten Chamorros working for PanAm.  At least thirty other aviation Marines and civilians were wounded, but our defense battalion troops miraculously escaped without a single death or injury.  We would not be so lucky in the days to come.
The China Clipper, moored in the lagoon, also escaped injury during the bombing and later that day shakily took off for the States, accidentally leaving behind Mr. Hevenor, an official from the Bureau of the Budget who would in due course, like the rest of us, become a prisoner of the Japanese.
During our short but busy war we moved our guns several times during nighttime hours in case the Japanese had spotted our positions; an enormous task that even with the enthusiastic help of civilian construction crews and their bulldozers left us bleary-eyed and weary the next day as we scanned the skies for the next attack.
I recall a pre-radar contraption among our unused equipment that resembled an enormous ear designed to listen for incoming aircraft, which proved completely useless due to the never-ending roar of surf pounding the reefs of Wake. So during daylight hours, officers and senior NCOs scanned the skies with binoculars and telescopes and we troops with naked eye, with inevitable false alarms from flocks of seabirds and other phenomena, not the least of which was our edgy tendency to see things that were not there.
But sometimes things were there.  One day I spotted a small bright disk hovering menacingly over our position at a lofty but indeterminable altitude and set off an all-out alert which lasted until an amateur astronomer among us announced that Winslow had discovered the planet Venus.
On lonesome and spooky beach patrol one night, burdened with marching pack, helmet and rifle, Private Winslow confesses he was so startled by glimpsing his spooky bayonet handle over his right shoulder that he slammed a round into the chamber and almost slew his shadow.
On 11 December a Japanese force consisting of three light cruisers, six destroyers, two small destroyers outfitted as transports, two new transports and two submarines, with a landing force of 450 men, attempted a landing on Wake. (See Map 2)

My gun had moved the night before to what I considered a ridiculously exposed position on Toki Point on Peale, for whatever reason not taking advantage of the natural camouflage of Wake’s dense underbrush, and much, much too dangerously close, in my humble Private’s opinion, to Toki Point’s two 5 inch guns that were to play a major role in fighting off the landing attempt. (See map)
Reading the memoirs of the two senior officers on Wake who describe this event is a Rashomon experience.  According to Major Devereux, he was in charge, and gave the commands, first to hold off firing until the invasion forces were sitting ducks, then to open fire upon them with our five inch guns.
Not so, according to Commander Cunningham, the Island Commander and senior naval officer present.  He was the one who gave the order to open fire, after Major Devereux asked him for permission to do so. My money is on Cunningham.  The protocols of Naval and Marine Corps command relationships would have made it inconceivable for Devereux to have opened fire without receiving permission from the senior Naval officer present.  That is not to say that Cunningham ran the day-to-day defense of the island.  He did not. The Admiral’s expertise did not extend to the intricacies of the operation of a Marine defense battalion, which he left to the Marines.  The discrepancies in the testimonies of these two men on the events of that fateful day can no doubt be attributed to a clash of strong personalities and the selective memories that thus ensued.  Each recalled the day as he would like to have it be, as don’t we all?  nardi
In spite of the fact that Cunningham was the commander of all naval and Marine Forces on the island, Devereux got all the glory after the war, practically wrote Cunningham out of his measly little book and Cunningham is still looked upon by many as a disgruntled “wannabe.”
Big Wright’s request that we bore-sight and fire our Toki Point AAA guns point-blank against the Japanese ships as they came into range off Kuku Point on Wilkes was denied (a big mistake in my humble private’s estimation) so we three inch gun crewmen hit the deck cursing and helpless in our sand-bagged gun positions as the Toki Point five inch crews traded fire with the cruisers and destroyers of the invasion force. (See map)
One incoming round splashed over; the next splashed in the lagoon, and a fist-sized hot metal fragment landed on my thigh as I lay in the gun pit, so completely spent it only left a bruise, not even enough for a Purple Heart.
From my supine position I watched with great admiration the 5 inch fire control trooper who was passing target information down to his gun crews from the completely exposed range finder platform above me.  He was as cool as cool could be, never flinching as shells exploded around him.  If memory serves, he was a feisty little redhead with a face like a clenched fist named Tuck.  Bob Cooper told me at one of our recent reunions that he was also up there on that platform, which I had forgotten, and we had another beer to celebrate the remembrance.
It was all over long before noon.  The Japanese fleet was driven off in utter disarray, losing at least one light cruiser and destroyer and suffering serious damage to most of the surviving ships and multiple casualties to their crews from both 5 inch shells and the bombing and strafing of our three fighter planes that were still flying.
We 3 inch gun crewmen had been mere spectators at the sea battle wing-ding, but before the morning was over we had an opportunity to engage a flight of incoming bombers that appeared to zero in on our position, as I had expected, fortunately without doing serious damage.  Our battery commander, Captain Godbold, reported three enemy planes trailing heavy smoke and one crashing into the sea off Wilkes, so we had almost as much cause to celebrate as did our comrades in the 5 inch batteries and those amazing, indomitable fighter pilots whose planes had become perforated with almost as many bullet and shrapnel holes as the bombers they shot down.
I was a second loader on a three inch gun.  I grabbed a shell from a fellow crewman, placed its nose in the fuse setter receptacle located on the gun platform, waited for the fuse cutter operator to crank his handle and yell “Cut!” which indicated that the serrated rings on the nose of the shell had been set to explode the shell at the desired elevation, which was being continuously transmitted by cable to the fuse cutter from the director, and then I grabbed the shell out of the fuse box and placed it in the breechblock, where the first loader would ram it into the chamber with his gloved left fist and yank the lanyard with his right hand to fire the gun.
The first loader was always the largest and strongest Marine in the outfit.  Mine was Herb Bartelme, a gentle giant from the upper Midwest who, aside from the Japanese, did not have an enemy in the world.  Herb had an attack of dysentery about half way through our small war, and I wound up using my right hand to help him ram the shells into the chamber.  I was glad that I had been eating my spinach.
That night we moved our gun again; this time a move with which I heartily agreed, even though it cost our gun crew many hours of valuable sleep.
On December 20th a Navy PBY landed in the lagoon, bringing encouraging words about imminent reinforcements for our besieged little garrison and evacuation of most of the civilians, but unfortunately the Japanese had other plans, as did the American admiral who sent our relieving force back to Pearl Harbor, but that’s another story.
Major Walter Baylor, a Marine Corps communications specialist whose job on Wake had been to oversee the installation of an air to ground communications system, had official orders to proceed to Midway to do more of the same.  The major took the only spare parachute in the flying boat, once again leaving Mr. Hevenor stranded on the dock, presumably unhappily waving goodbye.
Major Baylor’s ghost written book Last Man Off Wake Island sold like hotcakes and was the basis for the Wake Island movie starring Brian Donlevy and William Bendix, et al, that showed the Japanese killing us all in the closing moments, but fortunately it was only a movie or I would not be here telling you about it.
During our fifteen-day war, we were afflicted with the perennial affliction of all warriors – hurry-ups and waits.  Our hurry-ups took up less than two percent of our waking hours from the time we spotted incoming bombers, manned our positions, fired furiously at them until the bombs started walking towards us, then pell-mell into the bunkers and after the bombs walked on dulcop Italy
by pell-mell out again to fire parting shots at the bastards as they disappeared over the horizon.
The prolonged brain-deadening waits for these “mad moments” of organized chaos took their toll.  A brain that moves instantly from dead neutral day-dreaming to full speed ahead for only a few minutes and then back again to neutral over and over again has trouble recalling exactly what happened and when.  From the day of the aborted landing attempt on December 12th until the day of the successful one on December 23d, there is no consensus among us as to when the bombers came, how many of them were shot down, or what damage they caused.
Except for December 21.  That was the day Big Wright was killed.  During all the bombing attacks, he had remained at his post in the Director pit, refusing to take cover while the bombers were directly overhead, considering it his duty to inform all gun captains by sound power phone of the nature and extent of each bombing attack as it occurred; a “blow-by-blow” description.  His luck ran out on this fatal day when he received a direct hit from one of the falling bombs. I have always wondered if he saw it coming. He was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for bravery under fire, and in those days the Bronze Star meant something. I have one for Vietnam for just being there, which in 1970 was a sergeant major good conduct medal.
Physically, Platoon Sergeant Johnalson A. Wright was not the Hollywood version of a Marine NCO.  He had the height for Hollywood; standing over six feet tall, but his un-Hollywood-like circumference was also more than six feet, for there was more than 350 pounds of him.  We troops estimated the capacity of his enormous beer belly to be at least two cases.
One balmy night before our war started I happened to walk by the Staff NCO quarters where the four-stripers and above were imbibing their nightly grog just as Big Wright, red-faced and perspiring mightily but reeling only slightly, emerged from the noisy NCO beer tent headed presumably for the head. The encounter went something like this:
“Winslow, you little fart!” he bellowed.  (I stood nearly six feet and weighed about 170.)
“C’mere, you little bastard, how ‘n hell ya doin’?” (The entire population of the Island knew that I had just two days before been verbally flayed alive by Major Devereux for colliding my truck with an airplane, so he knew “how I was doin’.”)pith helmet is exactly like the marines one , from divinia hill
He grabbed me up by the scruff of the neck as though I were a puppy dog, large red face breathing formaldehyde-laced beer fumes into mine and said, as nearly as I recall and as previously reported, “Winslow, for a man who means well, you sure do get yerself fucked up… when are ya gonna get yer act together?”
This rhetorical question unfortunately remains unanswered to this day.
After releasing me from his ham-handed grip, Big Wright resumed his lurching march towards the piss tube at the end of the street, weaving only slightly because he had probably consumed only one case of his several case capacity, and I got out of there as speedily as possible before those huge mitts could grab me again. So Big Wright and I had a special rapport.  He knew I was a fuckup who needed special counseling and I knew that for some unknown reason one of the staff NCOs who ran the Marine Corps seemed to take a special interest in my welfare.  During my two years of service, it had never happened before.  I was not sure what to make of it.
In later years I read a bit of Shakespeare and discovered that Big Wright had a fictional predecessor named Falstaff. 
We had no chaplains on Wake, so the “Deacon,” being a lay preacher, was asked to say a few words when they buried Big Wright, but refused to do so on the grounds that Sergeant Wright was an evil man, and my detestation for this sorry excuse for a Marine NCO or even a human being went off the chart.
During World War I, so the story goes, the one and only Sergeant Major Dan Daly, winner of two Congressional Medals of Honor and the Navy Cross during the Boxer Rebellion and the “banana wars,” was appalled at Congressional “do-gooders” proposal to attach Navy chaplains to Marine Corps units to rescue their presumably lost souls. “Marines don’t have souls,” proclaimed Sergeant Major Daly, “and even if they did they wouldn’t need some Navy asshole to tell them what to do with them!”

Sergeant Major Daly would have been happy to know that we had no chaplains on Wake.  Daly is more famous for his rallying cry to his troops as they prepared to charge the German lines in France – “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” Questioned later by newspaper reporters, Daly explained that he had been misquoted; what he really said was, “For Heaven’s sake, you chaps!  Let us advance against the foe!” macarthur
As the sun rose on Wake on the morning of December 23d, we had opportunities galore to advance against the foe if we had enough row boats; they were all around us.
Beginning at dawn, we were tormented by carrier-based dive bombers which only the 50 cal antiaircraft machine guns could handle, but as far as we could tell, none of them were shot down.  As daylight spread, we could see on the horizon, just out of range of our five inch guns, ships, ships, and more ships encircling the island as far as the eye could see.  It was obvious that after the humiliating defeat of their dinky landing force on December 12th, the Japanese had decided to get serious about taking Wake.  There is a reference to “primitive walkie talkies” in the official Marine Corps history of the battle of Wake.  I have a vague memory of Gunner McKinistry and a fellow Marine trying out two of these contraptions and tossing them back into the storage bin in disgust when all they could get was static.  They were primitive, indeed, and to my knowledge were never used on Wake Island, undoubtedly because of their “primitiveness.”
The only communication the Island Commander had with his troops and outlying outposts were telephone land lines, inexplicably strewn atop the coral and sand for all to see, including the invading Japanese.  When the Japanese cut these lines in the early morning of December 23, they effectively ended any hope of a coordinated defense of Wake.
Very early on that morning, we heard the rattle of machine gun and small arms fire and the booms of five inch and three inch gunfire coming from the direction of Wilkes and the south shore of Wake.  We had moved to the north shore of Wake several nights before and, cursing our ineffectiveness, lay low in our gun pit waiting for the “word,” as Marines always do, in combat or elsewhere, while several Japanese dive bombers zoomed almost as ineffectively overhead, (A traditional greeting between Marines begins, “Hi, Ol’ Buddy, what’s the word?”).  Our land lines had not yet been cut, so the “word” finally came from Major Devereux – Deploy the AAA gun crews as infantry to participate in the last-ditch defense of the island.
On Wilkes and the south shore of Wake the Japanese had landed and the fighting was fierce.  Our last fighter plane had crash landed on the beach and our aviators were now infantrymen and artillerymen.  Fighter pilot Captain “Hammerin’ Hank” Henry Elrod would receive a posthumous Medal of Honor for his exploits against Japanese landing parties in the vicinity of the three inch gun that had been converted into a beach defense weapon. 
Marines defending Wilkes had won their part of the war.  They had successfully fought off, killed, or captured all members of the Japanese landing force who had landed, or tried to land, on Wilkes.  When Major Devereux crossed the channel separating Wake from Wilkes with his white surrender flag, it took several minutes of intense negotiation to convince Captain Wesley “Cutie” Platt, the senior officer on Wilkes, that he and his men should lay down their arms and surrender to the Japanese, because on Wilkes they had won their war with the Japanese!
Down the line a bit on Wake Island proper, Second Lieutenant Arthur A. Poindexter led a roving beach patrol consisting of mess cooks, supply clerks, sailors, and civilians which under his leadership managed to inflict numerous casualties on the landing force.  One of his troopers later referred to him as “either crazy as a bedbug, or the bravest guy alive.” Why he only received a Bronze Star for his “deeds of derring-do” on this fateful day is still a good question, 64 years later.
Enter Dr. Shigeyoshi Ozeki.  Dr. Ozeki was a Japanese medical officer who participated in both the successful landing and its aborted predecessor.  His recently discovered testimony raises questions about the nature of the assault on Wake.  Here is how he recalls the final battle:
Of the entire force which was to go ashore on that morning, only the officers and a few men with LMGs would be issued ammunition…The remainder of the assault group would be going ashore with empty ammo pouches, empty chambers, and nothing between them and the enemy but fixed bayonets. a good idea of the uniforms in the early pacific war

There were two reasons for taking away the men’s ammunition.  The first was that if the men had bullets they would lay down in the sand and attempt to shoot at the enemy instead of closing in.  The attack would stall and we would be driven back into the surf…

The second reason was that the command didn’t want the enemy to know they outnumbered us 2 to 1. (This miscalculation probably resulted from counting the 1100-odd civilians as members of the island’s defense force.  Only the Marines were armed, and there were only 449 of them.)

One did not doubt the wisdom of one’s superiors in the Imperial Japanese Navy, where independent thought and reasoning were not cultivated.  Besides, the NLF was trained using proven battle techniques time-tested through years of combat in China.  The bayonet charge was sure to turn even the most stubborn enemy to terror-stricken flight. 

Unfortunately, none of Wake’s defenders seemed to have ever been to China!
If true, Dr. Ozeki’s assertion that Japanese charged the beaches on Wake with fixed bayonets and no ammo does much to explain the relatively small number of casualties inflicted upon the defenders.  At the end of the final day of battle, Major Devereux counted just 26 dead, including 12 civilians, compared to an estimated 350 enemy KIA.
There are two small mentions of Dr. Ozeki in the 725 pages of Greg Urwin’s Facing Fearful Odds, neither of them relevant to the good doctor’s statements about the Japanese landing force.  Bill Sloan, in the most recent book about Wake (2003) Given Up For Dead, places Ozeki on the island and describes his activities there, almost word for word as I have done, but not one word about the Japanese Landing Force not issuing ammunition to its riflemen.  When I wrote to Mr. Sloan about this apparent omission, he responded that he was unaware of Dr. Ozeki’s testimony concerning “no bullets for rifles,” but dismissed it as unconvincing, and added that,
“[t]he idea that, after the whipping they’d taken on Dec. 11, 1941, the invaders would come ashore on Wake less than two weeks later without ammunition seems far-fetched to say the least.”
The major problem with that assessment is that the “whipping” received by the Japanese during the first attack was all off-shore. The battered flotilla which contained the thwarted landing force, including Dr. Ozeki, withdrew to lick its wounds without landing a single live Japanese soldier on the beach.  The Japanese landing force had yet to test the mettle of the Wake defenders. 
The “no bullets” decision is consonant with other disastrous high level Japanese decisions during the war-years to come based on the concept of Bushido-inspired invincibility of Japan’s military and naval forces.  It is also consonant with the then prevailing belief among the Bushido elite that Americans soldiers or Marines were such a decadent and undisciplined mob that they would collapse in utter panic at the first sight of a bayonet wielding Japanese Samurai-warrior.  Bill Sloan gives an example of this scornful credo in quoting a Japanese news correspondent who toured Wake after the surrender: “Extravagance and hedonism are. . . a part of the American soldier. . . [compared to] . . . the Japanese, who can endure hardships and privation.” (Sloan, Given Up For Dead, p. 300)
When I asked retired Colonel Poindexter several years before his death about Dr. Ozeki’s account, he wrote me that it was “quite astounding, but thinking back on it, the part about the Jap riflemen not having ammunition for their weapons adds up.  I have often wondered how our people avoided being annihilated.”
As Dr. Ozeki remarked, “independent thought and reasoning were not cultivated” in the Imperial Japanese Navy, but anecdotal evidence suggests that a few rifle-toting renegades who thought for themselves managed to smuggle a few rounds ashore after concluding that attacking the enemy without bullets may be good Bushido but very bad for one’s health.
But they were few and far between.  The casualty lists tell the tale; more than 350 Japanese dead versus just 14 Marines and 12 civilians on that final day.  Mr. Sloan understandably does not want to entertain the notion that his meticulously researched version of the final battle of Wake is seriously flawed because of hitherto unknown evidence, but unfortunately his version does not match the evidence.
While Lieutenant Poindexter and his men were avoiding being annihilated on that fateful final day, across the island we anti-aircraft crewmen were being mustered in a clearing next to the lagoon in response to Major Devereux’s order to become infantry and help repel the Japanese attack.  We formed into ranks as skirmishers under the leadership of Sergeant Raymon Gragg, a former sea-going Marine with the heavily-muscled neck and shoulders of an Olympics-level wrestler, which he had been.  We knew that Japanese were on the island, but had yet to see one, but each of us had our Springfield rifles and sufficient ammo to give the invaders some headaches and most of us were eager to get into the action, some more so than others.
As we were forming into skirmisher squads and waiting for further “word,” Private Rufus B. Austin, perhaps in emulation of fire-breathing Civil War Rebel predecessors from his great state of Alabama, decided to single-handedly attack the invasion force.  We sat on him for a while until he cooled off.  Rufus had followed another southern tradition in lying to the recruiting sergeant about his age.  He and several other southern lads with us on Wake had yet to discover which end of the safety razor was the business end.  I think Rufus had just turned 16.  Just as we were beginning to advance towards the fire fight we could hear going on across the island, the final “word” came, and it was not good.
Surrender?  Marines don’t surrender!  At first we didn’t believe it, but it was confirmed, and then confirmed again.  Surrender.  Infamy.  Disgrace.  Some of us wept.
I took the bolt out of my trusty 1025827 Springfield and threw it one direction into the lagoon and the rifle itself in another direction.  My fellow Marines followed suit.
Sergeant Gragg tried to blow up the nearest three inch gun by stuffing blankets down the tube and firing a shell, without success.  The blankets flapped skyward like awkward misshapen birds and finally settled in the lagoon.  Gragg then tried to disable the gun by tossing live hand grenades down the elevated barrel, but that didn’t work either. The three inch guns were still in basic operating order when the Japanese finally rounded us up later in the day, but completely useless as anti-aircraft weapons without a fire control system, which our fire control crew had successfully disabled. We gun crewmen also saw to it that most of the guns’ firing locks, a small contraption without which the guns would not fire, were at the bottom of the lagoon.
Immediately after the surrender decision was announced, someone in the three inch director crew decided that the best way to incapacitate our only surviving director was to fire several .45 caliber pistol rounds into it, which destroyed the director but also wounded by ricochet Sergeant Robert Box, one of our “more civilized” younger NCO’s in my humble private’s estimation.  Fortunately, his wounds were not serious.
The reality of our situation really hit home when Major Devereux, escorted by Japanese troops, appeared at our position in a vehicle flying a white flag.  It was all over.  Or was it just beginning?  Or both?
We were herded by Japanese soldiers to the airstrip, where we were stripped of outer clothing, including shoes, and had our hands tied behind our backs with communications wire looped around our necks so that any downward pressure on our hands choked us.  We were then marched towards a revetment that had been previously gouged by civilian bulldozers in the coral and sand next to the airstrip where we were forced to kneel or squat on the bank of this big ditch while several Japanese machine gun crews spaced a few yards apart behind us chattered excitedly as they worked their bolts and loaded their weapons.  I had read about Japanese massacres of Chinese in Asia, and I had no doubt that we Americans were about to be added to the list.
We waited for the inevitable under the hot sun.  Suddenly, a vehicle rolled up and stopped on our left flank and the chatter behind us ceased.  From the corner of my eye I saw a figure step out of the vehicle who could have posed for many of the caricatures of Japanese military officers which had been appearing in American magazines and newspapers for the past several years.  He was a diminutive but stocky Japanese officer dressed in white shorts, knee-length white socks and white shoes, with eyeglasses, of course, bow-legged, of course, caparisoned with an appropriate gold-filagree-billed white cap, and armed with ceremonial sword.
He immediately began a loud and seemingly furious discussion with the Japanese officer in charge of the detachment manning the machine guns.  My turning around to get a better look aroused no opposition from the guards, who seemed to be as spellbound as I was by the spectacle.
I could not understand a word of the dialogue, but guessed from the context that the life of every American on the island depended upon its outcome.  It was obvious that the commander of the landing party was preparing to do what all good Japanese soldiers did to surviving enemies defeated in combat, massacre them.  It was not necessary to understand the Japanese language to understand that.
But apparently someone higher up in the chain of command had decided that for propaganda purposes, we were worth more alive than dead, and that it was time for the Japanese to be seen as merciful winners.  The only obstacle appeared to be the landing force commander, who had other plans for us.
Several eternities passed during the few minutes that it took for the landing force commander to apparently back down and agree to spare our lives.  Although we did not know it at the time, the landing force commander was seriously out-ranked, so the outcome was undoubtedly a foregone conclusion, the “argument” just the routine sound and fury signifying typical Japanese military decision-making. We would hear a lot of it in the years to come. Many years later I discovered that the “angel in white” who saved our lives was Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi, commander of the invasion fleet.
When the Admiral returned to his vehicle and was driven away, the machine gunners behind us exchanged Oriental maledictions among themselves and began packing up their weapons, and we started breathing normally again.  We were marched back to the airstrip and herded into the ammo bunkers alongside, still hogtied with comm wire.  Here we had a chance to loosen each other’s bonds, some to the point that we were not really tied up at all.  A few hotheads wanted to overpower the few Japanese soldiers who were guarding us.  Wiser heads prevailed with the argument, “OK, numb-nuts, then what?”
We were soon marched out again, this time to the airstrip where we joined the rest of the 1600 survivors of the battle of Wake.  Curiously, the guards who escorted us ignored the fact that most of us had untied ourselves while in the bunker.  We were herded onto the landing strip, where we sprawled on the white coral to toast, half naked, in the sub-tropical noonday sun, no water, no food, no heads, our “encampment” ringed with barbed wire and machine guns.  We grouped ourselves together by unit or profession; civilians at one end of the strip, Marines at the other.  When the sun went down we exchanged one discomfort for another and huddled our semi-naked bodies together for warmth against the cold winds blowing in from the ocean. 
It was not until noon the next day that water came, in unrinsed fifty-five gallon drums that had originally contained gasoline.  It was awful stuff, but by this time we were thirsty enough to drink from a hog wallow, so we swilled down as much of it as we could stand.  For days afterward, everything tasted or smelled of gasoline, including the meager rations of gruel and bread that we received before we were moved next to the former civilian barracks on Christmas day, where the Japanese allowed our Marine and civilian cooks to get back into action, and we began receiving two meals a day.
Just before the move, the Japanese had gathered up all the discarded clothing they could find and dumped it at the airstrip. None of us found our original clothing.  I wound up in civilian khaki with shoes that almost fit, and there was no longer any way to tell who was civilian and who was Marine by our attire.  We were a motley crew, marines by waterloo of italy in ho oo
At least 350 civilian members of this motley crew had actively participated in the defense of Wake, and dozens of them had died or been wounded in the act.  Many of them begged Major Devereux to enlist them as Marines, a request he denied on the grounds that he had no authority to do so.  It didn’t matter to the Japanese.  As far as they were concerned, we were all horyos, prisoners of war, civilian, soldier, sailor, or Marine alike.
After the surrender, Dr. Ozeki had assisted the American Naval doctor and civilian surgeon in tending to the wounded on both sides.  His compassionate treatment of American patients is recalled with gratitude by Marines who were under his care.
Former Marine Wiley Sloman, recovering from a serious head wound, recalled before his recent death that Dr. Ozeki granted his request for American food to replace the rice and seaweed that he couldn’t eat.  Wiley had been left for dead on Wilkes until a “clean-up crew” after the surrender found him and brought him to the hospital. 
The Americans on Wake were not what Dr. Ozeki expected:
The Americans who surrendered to us were not the savage brutes we had expected to encounter.  We had been instructed that in hand-to-hand combat to never allow an American “gorilla” to come within arm’s length as they were all trained boxers…[and] one solid punch was enough to break a man’s neck.  It made me laugh to hear from one of the POWs that they were told to stay clear of US because we were all black belts in Judo and Jujitsu.
Many of the Americans with whom Dr. Ozeki conversed were undoubtedly civilians, who outnumbered the Marines three to one.  Marines and civilians had been stripped and re-attired willy-nilly in each other’s clothing and Dr. Ozeki’s remarks indicate that he considered all Americans on Wake to be Marines.
Shortly after the surrender, Dr. Ozeki selected then PFC Edwin Borne to drive a truck around the island picking up wounded Japanese soldiers, later collecting wounded Americans.  For the next several hours, Borne ferried the doctor around the island on various other errands.
The selection of POWs to drive vehicles was a necessary evil.  In pre-World War II Japan most lower-ranking Japanese soldiers or sailors had never ridden in a motor vehicle, let alone operated one.  American POWs captured in the Philippines, where Japanese army discipline was notoriously poor, would watch in grim satisfaction as Japanese soldiers mangled captured vehicles and themselves in “kamikaze” attempts to master the mysterious enemy machines.  General Yamashita’s chauffeur in conquered Manila was a U. S. Marine corporal.
In a rare post-war reconciliation, Dr. Ozeki met several years ago with his former part-time chauffeur, Eddie Borne and two of his former patients, Wiley Sloman and Walter T. Kennedy in Nagoya, Japan.  This event apparently received a lot of “good press” in Japan, but has divided the dwindling ranks of Wake Island Defenders.  Some believe that it is time to let bygones be bygones with the Japanese; others are adamant that it can never happen in their lifetime.
Regardless of the policies of his government, past and present, Dr. Ozeki proved himself to be a humanitarian on Wake Island.  To revile him merely because he is Japanese is no different than the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki reviling all Americans, and perhaps surprisingly, with only a few diehard exceptions, the record shows that they do not.  We should also forgive, but never forget.
As time marches on, it is beginning to be a moot point.  Dr. Ozeki is no longer with us and there are only a few Wake Islanders left on both sides of the debate, so perhaps the issue will soon fade away into the sunset, as it should. 
After we were crowded into the civilian barracks on Wake by the Japanese, Japanese soldiers became much more amiable and willing to try out their few English words. Along with Dr. Ozeki, they had discovered that Americans were human after all and not the “gorillas” they had feared to find on Wake Island.
In an amazing display of naiveté, Japanese “technicians” took our three inch gun crews, including me, back to our gun positions and requested instructions on their operation.  There were con-artists among us, including me, so in short order the few firing locks remaining in the guns were smuggled out of the gun positions and wound up buried in the sand or in the depths of the lagoon.
I have wondered about this for more than 60 years.  Did the Japanese really believe that we would cooperate with them?  One explanation for this apparent simple-minded trust may lie in the Japanese Bushido attitude towards surrender. Death before surrender, says Bushido.  To surrender is such a despicable act that one loses all honor and becomes so depraved that moral scruples are out the window, so why not betray one’s country’s secrets to its enemies?  I can think of no other explanation for the Japanese technicians’ strange belief that we would show them how our weapons worked.
On January 12, 1942, most of us embarked on the Nitta Maru, a former passenger ship that had been converted into a troop ship.  We left behind the seriously wounded and about 350 civilians.
The Naval Landing Force which had taken Wake was an elite assault force, the Japanese equivalent of American Marines.  They appeared to respect the courage and military skill of the defenders, in spite of the fact that we had violated the warrior code of Bushido by surrendering, and there had been no serious mistreatment of POWs on the island.  This would soon change.
As we came over the side of ship up the Jacob’s ladder from the landing barge below, we ran a gauntlet of kicks, blows and screaming epithets from members of the ship’s crew.  Many of the small bundles of possessions that some of us carried were confiscated or thrown overboard.  We were shoved and kicked down the ladders into two large cargo holds which measured less than four feet from top to bottom.  Except at the hatchways, it was impossible to stand up straight.
Guards were posted at the hatchways.  We soon discovered that attracting their attention in any way was a drastic mistake. Newly posted guards asserted their authority by testing judo throws or punches on the handiest prisoners.  For the remainder of their watch they randomly cuffed and whacked prisoners who caught their eye.  Since we were forbidden to change positions or move about under pain of death, those nearest the guards received more than their share of punishment.  I had foresightedly scuttled as far away from the hatch as I could and missed my share of the fun.  It took some of us longer than others to learn the first rule of survival in a prison camp: Be as inconspicuous as possible.
Notice that in the REGULATIONS FOR PRISONERS reproduced below, death sentences are prescribed for such dire crimes as “individualism” and “egoism.” The Japanese sure knew our weak spots.  Japanese Regulations for Prisoners published in "Enemy on Island. Issue in Doubt." by Stan Cohen
We spent the next 12 days miserably huddled in the cargo holds of the Nitta Maru.  Twice a day we received a bowl of watery rice gruel, garnished occasionally with bits of pickled daikon (Japanese radish) or small half-rotten fish, heads and all.  By the time the trip ended we no longer turned up our noses at our Oriental menu and had begun to consider fish eyeballs a delicacy.
As we moved into the colder waters of the northern Pacific, our thin cotton blankets were no longer adequate, and we shook and shivered and huddled together for warmth.  The thirty officers making the trip fared somewhat better in a small compartment that had once been used for a mailroom.  They, too, received their share of beatings from sadistic guards.marx soldiers like these are almost perfect for wake defenders, a slight conversion of trouser bottoms
On 18 January, the ship arrived in Yokohama, where thirty of the prisoners, including the squadron commander of VMF 211, Major Paul Putnam, were removed and taken to a prison camp at Zentsuji, where they would join their fellow POWs from Guam.  Most of them were officers or men who for one reason or another the Japanese apparently believed possessed more technical information than other prisoners.
The Yokohama layover provided a propaganda bonanza for the Japanese.  Senior officers were interviewed and photographed by Japanese reporters, who insisted that they smile for the cameras.  An article in a Japanese newspaper boasted that the prisoners “were admiring the bushido treatment they received on the boat” and that “the Japanese exerted every effort to thresh out American individualism.  Now they are very cooperative with the Japanese.” These pictures eventually made their way back to America, where they appeared in Life Magazine.
Down in the hold, we had no idea what was going on and had no chance to smile for the cameras.
On January 20 the ship set sail for Shanghai and further lessons in Bushido.  Two days out of Yokohama, the commander of the fifty-man prisoner-guard detachment, Captain Toshio Saito, mustered his men and available ship’s company on the main deck and called for five prisoners, apparently selected at random, to be brought forward.  One of the Japanese crewmen present recalled the scene in post-war testimony to the War Crimes Commission:
Captain Saito took his position on a box or a barrel which was approximately three feet in width.  He drew his sword and held it at his right shoulder to indicate that the executions were to begin.  Saito took a piece of paper from his pocket. . . the following message was read by Saito to the five prisoners of war (who were blindfolded) in front of him in Japanese and was substantially as follows:

“You have killed many Japanese soldiers in battle.  For what you have done you are now going to be killed – for revenge.  You are here as representatives of your American soldiers and will be killed.  You can now pray to be happy in the next world – in heaven.”

After reading the death warrant Saito folded the paper and I believe he placed it in his pocket. Each of the victims was made to kneel by the guards standing sentry over them.  They were blindfolded with hands tied behind them.  . . I recall of the five victims, two of them had their heads completely cut from their bodies.  Their heads rolled to one side.  Three of the victims were not totally decapitated.

At Saito’s orders, a different warrant or petty officer “stepped up to the plate” for each prisoner.  The ship’s crew enthusiastically applauded each blow, even when botched and the head was not chopped off properly, requiring the swordsman to make a second chop or even a third.

When all five heads were finally chopped off, other men were handed the swords for the sport of trying to cut the corpses in two with a single stroke, samurai style. But none of them were samurai; they were just hackers, slashing away in a welter of blood.  When they had had enough, Saito had the bodies propped against a sake barrel so that his guards could stick them for bayonet practice.  When the bayoneters had had enough, the carcasses and the chopped-off heads were thrown overboard.  That night, Saito invited some guests to celebrate the satisfactions of the occasion.  (Gavan Daws, Prisoners of the Japanese, p. 49)
From the testimony of Japanese witnesses and participants, it is clear that Saito acted without authority in the time honored tradition of gekokujo, which can be loosely translated in this case to mean a “heroic” act by a subordinate in defiance of higher authority.  He could be reasonably certain that if and when his actions became known to higher authority, reproof, if any, would be mild, completely eclipsed by admiration for his warlike Bushido spirit. The beheadings were obviously not meant as a warning to other prisoners, who may have suspected the worst, but did not discover what happened until after the war.  Saito’s apparent motive was to “harden” his men for combat by forcing them to participate in a bloody slaughter.  This was common practice in the Japanese army, which had access to Chinese prisoners, but uncommon in the Navy due to the lack of available victims.
Retired Commander Glenn Tripp, USN, then a third class petty officer, was a close friend of two of the sailors executed on the Nitta Maru.  He claims that a Japanese warrant officer who spoke a little English told him that the five men had been beheaded and that the story was common knowledge among the prisoners.
General Devereux does not mention the incident in his book, published immediately after the war.  It seems inconceivable that he would have left this event out of his book had he known about it.  In his 1961 memoir, Admiral Cunningham states that he did not learn of the atrocities until after the war.  It is also inconceivable that the admiral’s yeoman, Glenn Tripp, did not pass on his knowledge to the admiral while they were together in prison camp.  Sorry Glenn, your memory is playing tricks on you.
Four of the five petty officers involved in the Nitta Maru massacre were tried and sentenced to life at hard labor by the War Crimes Tribunal after the war; a fifth was acquitted.  After about nine years of imprisonment, they were paroled.  Saito, who survived the war, strangely enough could not be found and was never brought to justice.  Commander Cunningham has remarked, “How [Saito] could remain uncaptured through all these years in an island kingdom noted for its effective police control is a final mystery well worth pondering

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