Wake Island has the distinction of being the only time defenders were able to prevent a landing during World War II. The marines and naval personnel on Wake, a refueling station for the Pan American Clipper, would become heroes to the American public starved for good news as the Japanese advanced across the Pacific.
Wake Island was 2000 miles west of Hawaii, across the International Date Line. Some 1600 civilian construction workers and servicemen were on the island, and they were attacked within minutes of the Pearl Harbor attack by Kwajalein-based bombers. On December 11, the defenders used their World War I issue 5-inch guns to repel a landing force and damage three cruisers and a destroyer.