Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dusting off of the BLOG

I apologize for the BLOG neglect. The last two months have been interesting to say the least.

I'm single. It is for the better. I am looking forward to the road ahead.

One thing that has kept us busy on island has been a series of Trans-Pac movements. Basically tactical aircraft movements coming or going. They use Wake as a gas and over night stop.

I have done a kick ass job supporting aircraft here. I have received numerous accolades to include three awards. One was employee of the month from my company Chugach. The other was the Workhorse of the month award from the Wake Commanding Officer. The other was from the Commanding Officer of a Prowler squadron for all the support I was able to give his unit and for a job well done.

I am trying to establish some personal goals for my self to keep me occupied in my off duty hours. I have numerous aviation books I could read to keep my self current on basic knowledge of my chosen profession. The other was to start an exercise program and keep with it. I had a good routine before the major influx of Trans-Pacs hit us, then that sort of dissolved. It will be a good idea to get back on track. We have a pair of tankers coming in this afternoon. Once the flight ops are done for the day I'll go ride my bike. From where I live in "town" to the marina on the other side of the atoll is about 12 miles round trip a good ride.

For you SCUBA divers. We had an instructor out here, I earned my advanced open water rating. I hope to have a underwater camera soon to be able to document my aquatic adventures.

For you history buffs below is a picture of a 8" shore battery. The last gun emplacement on Wake Island. I believe the Gun's history it is of English origin. I think it was in Singapore when the Japanese took over management. It was installed here during WWII and this it where it remains to rust in peace. A reminder of what happened here so many years ago.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In memory of.

Good evening. I apologize for the late entry. I'll try not to let so much time pass between updates. I've settled into the island life as much as I can. Had my first regular paycheck and was able to strike back at some lurking bills. I recently acquired a bike, and am riding it for exercise. We have a road the runs from down town to the marina and back that is about 13 miles, with the wind blowing makes for a good work out.

The overall tone of my entry today is rather drab as it focuses on the dark period in Wake's history. There are a number of memorials and plaques around the island that detail what happened here. The plaque to the right is dedicated to the defenders of Wake Island. The memorial describes the actions of the 1st Defense Battalion and Marine Fighter Squadron VMA-211. One inscription reads, "All hands behaved splendidly and held up in a manner of which the Marine Corps may tell well." On flat surface of the monument at the base of the spire are rank insignia and name patches left by Marines who have visited here. It is a symbol of respect and admiration for our fallen brothers who died in battle defending this place.

This is the memorial dedicated to the Morrison-Knudsen contractors who served on Wake. There were some 1200 civilian engaged in the construction of an airfield, submarine base and defensive positions before the outbreak of WWII. During the battle some volunteer contractors became casualties fighting in defense of the island.

After the fall of Wake, some 1500 Marines, Sailors and contractors became POWs of the Japanese. Eventually most of the service members and a majority of the contractors were shipped to POW camps in China or Japan. 98 remained behind to continue the construction of the Japanese defenses on the island. The photo to the right is a picture of an aircraft revetment built by the American POW contractors for the Japanese.

After a successful raid by U.S. aircraft and ships in late 1943. The Japanese commander predicted a imminent invasion by U.S. forces and ordered the remaining civilian contractors executed. The victim's names are immortalized on this plaque. Their detailed story is here.

One prisoner was able to escape the massacre. During his brief evasion the unidentified POW inscribed "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock. He remained free for almost 3 weeks before he was re-captured and be-headed by the Japanese Admiral. This is the only physical evidence that remains of what happened here in October 1943.

Reading the events, viewing the memorials and personally seeing the inscription on that rock left me in an appalled state of awe. The memory and deeds of these men must not be forgotten by history.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Good morning. Here is an amazing sunrise from where the United States' day really begins.

Last night was outstanding. Wake Island has ~80 Thai people that comprise the majority of the island's work force. The Thais are some of most polite, skilled and dedicated people you will ever come across.

My friend and I were invited to one of the beach houses for a great Thai dinner. The food was the best I have had since my arrival. It compares to the best Thai restaurants in the States. There was papaya salad, sticky rice, a spicy duck dish, pad thai noodles with chicken, fried rice with pork. There was a new item I have never had before, Wasabi plant leaves. You take a portion of the leaf and use it to grab your choice of dishes. The wasabi leaves with the hot papaya salad had a bit of a twang to it, but it was good.

Here is the terminal building at Wake Island
Airfield. Compared to Midway we see a greater number of aircraft operations. As an aviation enthusiast I am in heaven to be around swarms of F/A-18 Hornets, KC-135 flying gas stations and my airplane, slow but will get you there C-130 Hercules.

Today is our day off, but we have a couple of C-130s coming in for gas, should be a fairly easy day, plus 4 hours of OT is most welcome.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The beginning

I am Benjamin and I reside on Wake Island. I work at the airfield as the en-route traffic supervisor.

I just graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University on December 17, 2011. I am a Marine veteran and a current C-130 crew chief at the 129th Rescue Wing in the California Air National Guard. My civilian goal is to fly for the fire service. I enjoy SCUBA and skydiving. I am engaged to my lovely fiancee Lorretta.

There are a number of events choices and aligning of planets and moons as to why I am here. It boils down to, yes you guessed it, green, show me the money. To advance my pilot career and establish a future for my fiance and I, I've decided to swallow a large sour pill and come here to work.

There are several benefits to Wake Island. The pay is good, room and board are taken care of. There will be opportunities for SCUBA diving, deep sea fishing and learning how to sail.

I have a lot of down time to explore the history here, start this blog and advance my education and overall general reading of subjects that interest me. One is military history. What the Marines, Sailors and civilian contractors did here is a bright spot in dark period of the early days of WWII. Although the island fell to Japanese, the Marines made them pay a high price for this piece of real estate.

As I become some more proficient in my job and adjust to island life I will explore what this island has to offer and record those events here.

This is my second tour on a remote island. I completed 3 1/2 years at Midway. I look forward to it, but the most difficult thing is the separation from Lorretta. I love you babe!