December 7th, 1941 is a day that will live in infamy as the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2,400 innocent crewmen and dragged American into World War II. However, there are few people who speak about the events that occurred on December 8th, 1941 and the other Japanese Assault.
Wake Island was a United States Territory after the Spanish-American War in 1898 and was used as a military base. It was a small island but it was just big enough to build a landing strip, making it a valuable location in the Pacific. Wake Island was declared a bird sanctuary in order to avoid detection from its actual use as an aircraft and submarine base.
The Japanese learned of Wake Island’s strength as a military position and planned an attack shortly after the raid on Pearl Harbor. The Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Wake Island with a fleet of naval ships, military aircraft, and infantry. The attack caught the American forces off guard and although many of them were not even equipped for battle they wouldn’t give up the island without a fight.
During the initial raid the Americans used artillery to sink two Japanese destroyers and a group of 12 Wildcat fighters kept the enemy aircraft at bay. Despite being vastly outgunned and outnumbered the Marines at Wake Island fought off the Japanese over three weeks before their eventual surrender.
The Battle of Wake Island is not mentioned in the history books very often but it served as a morale boost for Americans to join the war against the Japanese. It went down in history as “The Alamo of the Pacific.”