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Given Up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at…

Given Up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island

by Bill Sloan

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Before reading this book, I was vaguely aware that a World War II battle had taken place on Wake Island at some point during the war. I didn't know that it was the first U.S. Engagement of the war, or that it began just hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed. It was likened to the Alamo at the time, yet unlike Pearl Harbor, it's rarely mentioned today.

When the war started, the Americans were behind in preparing the island's defenses. Marine and Navy personnel were outnumbered by civilian construction workers. When the Japanese bombing started, undermanned military units recruited civilians to help defend the island. When there weren't enough weapons available to arm all of the civilians, some of them carried ammunition, filled sand bags, and performed other vital support functions. One group of civilians was quickly trained and put to work manning a three-inch gun under the leadership of a Marine. The gun would otherwise have sat unused since there weren't enough Marines to man it.

Based on various histories of the battle and interviews with survivors, Sloan pieces together a day-by-day account of the battle for Wake Island. The skill and determination of the defenders is still as inspirational as it was in 1941. It was heartbreaking to read of the controversial decision to surrender at a point when a U.S. victory still seemed possible. It was even more heartbreaking to read about the treatment the military and civilian personnel received as prisoners of war. These brave men deserve to be remembered for their perseverance and ingenuity in overcoming innumerable disadvantages in the fulfillment of their duty. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Oct 19, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553585673, Mass Market Paperback)

A gripping narrative of unprecedented valor and personal courage, here is the story of the first American battle of World War II: the battle for Wake Island. Based on firsthand accounts from long-lost survivors who have emerged to tell about it, this stirring tale of the “Alamo of the Pacific” will reverberate for generations to come.

On December 8, 1941, just five hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese planes attacked a remote U.S. outpost in the westernmost reaches of the Pacific. It was the beginning of an incredible sixteen-day fight for Wake Island, a tiny but strategically valuable dot in the ocean. Unprepared for the stunning assault, the small battalion was dangerously outnumbered and outgunned. But they compensated with a surplus of bravery and perseverance, waging an extraordinary battle against all odds.

When it was over, a few hundred American Marines, sailors, and soldiers, along with a small army of heroic civilian laborers, had repulsed enemy forces several thousand strong––but it was still not enough. Among the Marines was twenty-year-old PFC Wiley Sloman. By Christmas Day, he lay semiconscious in the sand, struck by enemy fire. Another day would pass before he was found—stripped of his rifle and his uniform. Shocked to realize he hadn’t awakened to victory, Sloman wondered: Had he been given up for dead—and had the Marines simply given up?

In this riveting account, veteran journalist Bill Sloan re-creates this history-making battle, the crushing surrender, and the stories of the uncommonly gutsy men who fought it. From the civilians who served as gunmen, medics, and even preachers, to the daily grind of life on an isolated island—literally at the ends of the earth—to the agony of POW camps, here we meet our heroes and confront the enemy face-to-face, bayonet to bayonet.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An account of America's first battle of World War II describes the ordeal of American soldiers and civilians who defended Wake Island against a surprise Japanese attack just hours after Pearl Harbor.

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