Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island

By Gregory J. W. Urwin | Go to book overview

XIX
"BOY, THIS DON'T HAPPEN ON GUAM"

Wake's Second and Third Air Raids, 9-10 December 1941

"Good Men, and They Were Willing to Learn"

Daybreak on Tuesday, 9 December, revealed a clear blue sky over Wake Island. The garrison welcomed the sight. If the Japanese sent their bombers for a second swipe at the atoll, no clouds would conceal their approach. A little smoke was still rising from the debris that had once been the Pan Am station and some of the wreckage at the airfield, but those thin skeins presented no serious obstacle to the Americans' line of sight.

Awakened before sunrise, Devereux's Marines greeted the second day of the war under a full Condition 1 Alert. Lookouts searched sea and sky, while everyone else stood by their guns. Those sailors still on duty with Commander Keene's NAS detachment rose early, too. Commander Cunningham placed Yeoman Tripp and another bluejacket on the Camp 2 water tower with a hand-driven siren to give timely warning of the next attack. At the aerological station, Aerographer IC Walter Cook and his two assistants switched on their wireless set and tuned in a historic broadcast. They heard President Roosevelt denounce the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor as "a date which will live in infamy" and ask Congress for a declaration of war.1

Still animated by fury born of Wake's own day of infamy, VMF-211 girded itself for a second visit from the Chitose Air Group. The loss of so many planes the day before meant that Major Putnam could no longer maintain constant daytime patrols. From this point on, he would mount one reconnaissance flight at dawn and another at dusk to search the surrounding ocean

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