Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Wake Island faces direct hit by Ioke.

Last night, I heard some good news about Super-typhoon Ioke, in that it looked like it would miss Wake Atoll by about 50 miles and only hit it with 75 mph winds, and while I'm relieved that they got everyone off the island today, it's sad to hear that National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Powell has said "Ioke will probably submerge the island and destroy everything that's not made of concrete." Current predictions show Ioke, the fifth-strongest storm ever seen in the Central Pacific, coming right over the island.

Pretty unfortunate, as it appears to be a beautiful place, with good diving and great fishing. (Mmmm... fresh Ahi sashimi!) 

Wake also contains historic memorials for the Marines, U.S. civilians, and Japanese soldiers who died there during WWII. Approximately 450 Marines and Navy personnel -- with the help of civilian workers -- fought off the Japanese for two weeks after Pearl Harbor, repulsed an amphibious invasion, sunk two Japanese destroyers, one submarine, damaged a cruiser and eight other destroyers, shot down 21 aircraft, and killed approximately 1000 Japanese soldiers in the defense of the island.

Wake was the site of a massacre of American POWs. One of the historical monuments of Wake is called the "98 Rock", a memorial for the 98 U.S. Prisoners of War who were forced by their Japanese captors to rebuild the airstrip as slave labor, then blindfolded and killed with machine guns on October 5th, 1943. An unidentified prisoner escaped, and scratched "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock near their mass grave. The prisoner was recaptured and beheaded by the Japanese commander, who was later convicted and executed for war crimes. 

The island currently serves as an emergency airbase and has been closed to tourists for several years. All I can hope is that after the hurricane, the island will be rediscovered by the public somehow.

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