Monday, December 14 at 3 a.m. ET
War Stories with Oliver North pays tribute to those who sacrificed and served in one of the most overlooked chapters in World War II.
On December 7, 1941 — the "date that will live in infamy" — Pearl Harbor wasn't the only American military installation attacked by the Japanese. Just hours after the bombings in Hawaii, the enemy also set their sights on the 1,600 Americans located on three tiny specks of coral 2,000 miles west of Honolulu, known as Wake Island.
The enemy expected only feeble resistance from 350 Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion and the 1,200 civilian contractors stationed on the island. They were dead wrong.
For over two weeks, the Marines and contractors, under the command of Major James Devereux, out-maneuvered and outfought the enemy. The Japanese Navy under the command of Admiral Kajioka returned with an armada of over 40 ships and the small American garrison, battling incredible odds, was forced to surrender the island. In the aftermath, the Wake Island defenders suffered as POWs in the brutal hands of their captors.
Yet for a stunned nation, the heroic two-week defense of Wake Island was the only good news in those early days of the war. A grateful FDR paid tribute to their fighting spirit, which inspired Hollywood's first World War II movie "Wake Island."
In this episode, you'll meet the legendary defenders of Wake Island: The Marines and civilians who were among the first to inspire the United States to victory in the Pacific.