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Wake Island (one of three islands that make up Wake Atoll, view
map) is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about
2,200 miles west of Honolulu, Hawaii and 600 miles north of
(view map). Wake
is best known in history books as the location of fierce WWII
battles between American and Japanese forces. Ninety-eight American
construction workers were executed on Wake in 1943 by Japanese
officers, who were later arrested for war crimes.
I've had the luxury of being on Wake three times. These pages
are used to provide family and friends with pictures and tales
from this tiny island.
I was part of a 5-member team sent
to Wake to survey damage sustained by Super Typhoon Ioke. Click
the thumbnail below to view photographs of the damage.
Typhoon Damage Photographs
August 31, 2006: A few days ago,
I was evacuated by the Air Force from Wake Island due to Super
Typhoon Ioke, interrupting a two-week business trip. The eye
of the monster storm is expected to pass directly over the tiny
island tonight. I very much hope that at least the barracks
and houses aren’t too heavily damaged. There are many
people who have called Wake their home for over 20 years and
were likely forced to leave most of their worldly possessions
when we evacuated.
I've posted a few pieces of information on the Tropical
Meteorology page, including a broadcast of me being interviewed
by the CBS news affiliate in Honolulu.
September 6, 2006: Images from Coast Guard reconnaissance
aircraft have begun to filter in (link1,
and although they show a number of buildings partially destroyed,
it sounds like the island is surprisingly intact. Click the
images below to view galleries from my recent trip to Wake.
(Warning: I'm writing the following
after receiving only a few fragmented hours of sleep during
the past 38 hours, and frankly, I'm doubtful of my ability to
construct a coherent sentence!) The trip began when we flew
out of Kwajalein Island late yesterday afternoon on Continental
Airlines. After a one-hour layover on Majuro (capitol of the
Republic of the Marshall Islands), we continued to Honolulu,
Hawaii, where we arrived at 2:30 AM. We immediately grabbed
a taxi and headed over to Hickam Air Force Base. Check-in for
the 8 AM flight to Wake Island was at 4:30 AM. Yup, almost FOUR
hours before the scheduled departure time!
Our mode of transportation to Wake was a noisy four-prop C-130
Hercules military transport plane. ATI (Air Transportation International)
normally provides flights to Wake with a 737. However, the runway
on Wake is currently undergoing repairs and C-130's will be
used until repairs are completed due to their ability to land
on short runways.
The 8-hour flight was interesting to say the least! We sat alongside
uniformed service members in uncomfortable canvas jump seats,
leaning against parachutes strapped to the fuselage. The head
was a small chemical toilet with only partial privacy offered
by a makeshift shower curtain. There certainly were no flight
attendants or in-flight movies, but we were offered large box
lunches. It's kind of cool to be able to say that I've taken
a flight over the Pacific Ocean in a military transport plane!
We arrived on Wake, dreary eyed,
around 4 PM...almost 24 hours after leaving Kwajalein. After
a quick tour around the island (Wake is about 4 miles in length),
we ate dinner and called it an early night. Tomorrow we'll repair
the weather radar and, given enough time, begin the process
of dismantling it.
After a rather sleepless night (thanks
in part the noisy wall-mounted AC unit), we met in the cafeteria
at 7:30 AM for breakfast. The first order of business was to
head over to the radar building for repairs. We gave the radar
a clean bill of health after replacing the main processor board,
Intermediate Frequency Device (IFD), and Automatic Frequency
Controller (AFC). This was some welcome news since we expected
troubleshooting itself to take a couple of days.
After an excellent lunch of ravioli, deep-fried fish, and garlic
Thai chicken, we drove to the weather forecast office, located
on the first floor of the terminal building. Here we installed
a GPS-driven network time server and inspected some roof-mounted
equipment, including a satellite tracking dish, used to download
weather images from polar orbiting weather satellites. Across
the street from the forecast office is the balloon shelter,
where weather balloons are launched during missile test missions.
Also located across the street are bunkers dating back to WWII,
all of which display signs of fierce gunfire.
We called it a day at 5 PM and Clint and I went for a quick
swim in one of the channels leading from the open ocean to the
lagoon. We were later treated a wonderful steak dinner, which
we cooked ourselves on a large charcoal BBQ. After dinner we
took our scraps of food and walked to the ruins of the old wooden
bridge that used to connect Wake Island to nearby Peale Island
before a fire destroyed the bridge late last year. The local
fish are accustomed to people feeding them in the evenings.
As we threw pieces of food into the air, the water appeared
to boil with hundreds of small fish, literally leaping out of
the water, fighting for their piece of the pie...literally.
Bwahahaha, I kill myself. But then again, maybe it's the can
of Coors I'm drinking?