In Recognition of Veteran's Day Part I
The storm cloud of war in China and Europe has already been unleashed. Since 1931 Japan has conducted a bloody scourge against Manchuria. Since 1939 Germany has been militarily excising the countries of the Eastern Bloc and Scandinavia. Still the United States resists entering the war even after Europe falls to the Nazis and Great Britain valiantly repels the Herman Goering's Luftwaffe as it tries to bomb London into submission. The winds of war are everywhere yet Congress only grudgingly allows the Lend Lease Act to begin supplying England and Russia with tanks, ammunition, and even fighter aircraft.
Suddenly on December 7th 1941 Pearl Harbor is attacked without warning. The Japanese Embassy in Washington DC at 2:30 in the afternoon a Declaration of War is finally decoded hours after the flames of US warships leave black smoke billowing in the skies of Hawaii and the bodies of sailors float in the harbor. An act that propels America into war against the Axis Powers as announced by President Franklin Roosevelt the following day ignites vengeance in the states as American men flock to the recruitment centers even Hollywood actors angrily come to the call of their nation. Tyrone Powers, Eddie Albert, Clark Gable, James Stewart, and many others enlist ready to fight!
Agony in Asia
What's even worse is the uncanny string of victories the Japanese Imperial Navy and Armies rack up in the Asian theater. in quick succession! The US Army base in Manila falls along with the British army there surrendering in humiliating fashion to a smaller but more aggressive Japanese force of invaders, Malaya, Guam, and Singapore fall to the a Japanese juggernaut of aerial attacks, Naval power, and an army that swarms its objectives seemingly imperiousness to opposition. General Mac Arthur evacuates his troops to Corregidor and it's underground tunnels for the wounded. Unprepared for war 20,000 US troops and Naval personnel attempt to make a last stand there.
The Japanese multi objective plans don't end there as a task force steams for a little known island in the Pacific known as Wake. There feverish preparations are made by 1779 US Marines, US Naval personnel and civilian contractor personnel scrambling to make fortifications to defend the island. They don't have to wait long as the Japanese flotilla consisting of 2 light cruisers,8 destroyers, and 2 troop transport ships converted from destroyer escorts head full speed to their appointment with destiny. Already land based Japanese bombers will be softening up the island prior to an amphibious invasion.
What you don't know will hurt you
As the Japanese eagerly approach Wake Island little do they know that they are facing 6 five inch coastal guns, 450 US Marines, and a small airfield that accommodates US F4F Wildcats and Brewster Buffalo fighters, 12 three inch anti-aircraft guns and 30 water cooled 30 caliber heavy machine guns. First blood is drawn when a large formation of 36 Mitsubishi G3M3 heavy bombers from the neighboring Marshall Islands unleashed an attack upon the small atoll.
The airfield is hit hard with several F4F's destroyed 23 Marine personnel killed and 11 wounded. Luckily for the Wake defenders none of the heavy artillery awaiting the Japanese amphibious invasion is hit. Intact and ready to go they will soon perform exactly as needed as the desperate hours pass. 3 more bomb raids will occur prior to the attempted landing. After the first bombing in order to decoy the Japanese from hitting the coastal guns wooden false targets are erected on a different part of the island and the next bomb run obliges by knocking out the decoys.
Closing in for the kill
Now the Japanese Task Force begins its assault, but there is no response from the anticipated shore defenses. Elated the fleet moves in closer to the beach head to make landing the 450 Japanese Special Forces troops easier. US Marine Major Devereux orders his artillery to remain silent as the Japanese edge closer to Wake Island shortening the lethal distance between themselves and the shore batteries of the Americans. The Japanese Task Force Commander believes that the prior heavy air strikes have knocked out heavy gunnery defenses and confidently orders his landing group closer. All the while though the remaining 4 F4F Wildcat Fighter aircraft harass the landing force.
Suddenly and with deadly affect the US Marine heavy guns open up! They hammer three of the Japanese ships one at 4,000 yards is hit in the magazine and explodes and sinks in minutes Destroyer Hayate goes down taking its entire crew with it! meanwhile the 4 F4F Wildcats diving strafing and bombing the Japanese shipping land a direct hit on Destroyer Kisaragi and detonating the depth charges on deck with a direct hit. The ship disappears below the Pacific waters taking its crew along with it! To make matters worse for the Japanese Light Cruiser Yubari's super structure is hammered 11 times by hits from the US Marine Coastal guns! The Japanese have now lost 325 Naval personnel and army troops, 2 destroyers, with extreme damage to a light cruiser forced to limp away!
In full view of the ground troops on Wake Island they are electrified by their David and Goliath victory over the Japanese first wave and exact the very first loss of a Nippon warship in the second World War! Without unloading any of their amphibious force the Japanese task force retreats having been badly bruised by the unthinkable-determined American resistance from a tiny island in the Pacific called Wake! At home disillusioned American crowds gather around radios elated to hear the good news. For the first time in the war the Japanese have experienced an embarrassing setback and the crowds are delighted! Commander Cunningham of the Wake Island forces defiantly send out a message to the world that echoes through out the US and her allies, "send more Japs!"