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In November 1941, Major Caton takes command of the small Marine garrison on Wake Island. His tendency toward spit and polish upsets the men's tropical lassitude, but Pearl Harbor changes everything. Soon the island is attacked and the Marines pull together day by day; but how long can they hold out? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This week the History Channel presented a fine documentary on this action. No question that the Wake Island defenders were heroic in every way, but they did not fight to the last man, as the film implied. The commanding officer surrendered the island to the Japanese after an American admiral decided the Marines weren't worth it and recalled a task force steaming to Wake's rescue. The Japanese decided not to follow their instincts and murder their captives outright, knowing the atrocity would be obvious. Later, when defeat was imminent, the Japanese commander in a rage murdered all the civilians; he was hanged for it. The few surviving Marines endured terrible captivity until the war's end. Six of them were featured in the documentary. Their stories were heart-wrenching.
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