Wake and Midway
by Jorge Sanchez - 4 years, 9 months ago
When I learnt that the Military Tours Company, based in USA, was going to open Wake atoll for the Veterans of War to celebrate the 68th birthday of the battle of Wake, I immediately joined!
It was worth. Not only for the island itself, discovered by my hero, the Spanish navigator don Alvaro de Mendaña in the XVI century, but for the gathering of interesting people, apart from the Veterans of War. Some 50 great travelers also traveled there, from Guam and Honolulu, and it was most interesting to converse with them.
There were several monuments and plaques along the island of Wake. This one was close to the airport.
Americans compare Wake Island with the Alamo!
There is only one bar in Wake Atoll, called Drifter Reef, but very nice, serving cold beers at a cheap price, with a view to the lagoon.
I flew from Los Angeles to Honolulu and finally, on June 2 of the year 2010, I boarded the plane chartered by Military Historical Tours for Midway Island.
On this tour, no dinner was organized the night before the flight, as was done on Guam before the flight to Wake. This was probably why the price of the tour to Midway was $100 less than Wake.
On board the plane, there was a large group of Japanese, who were invited by the U.S. government. They were going to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which was fought from June 4-7, 1942. From this, the Americans would come out victorious. Since then, Japan was on the defensive, suffering defeat after defeat, until their final surrender.
Aboard the plane, I recognized several travelers that had also traveled to Wake.
Carl, Kevin, Veikko and his wife Oili were traveling, plus other travelers whom I knew from the visit to Wake, but I did not know their names.
I noticed this time there were fewer travelers than on the Wake trip, and it’s because Midway has been accessible on tours for bird watchers, from Honolulu, or even on cruises from various ports in California. If Wake represented for travelers the Woodstock of 1969 for lovers of music, Midway corresponded to the festival on the Isle of Wight in 1970.
We landed at Midway atoll at noon. The panorama that spread before us was wonderful: There were hundreds of thousands of albatrosses; some said that there were more than a million, and they were of different species. They stood around at ease without fear of man.
It was a vision that seemed supernatural. Veikko defined it as “miraculous.” For him and his wife, the visit to Midway Island with its albatrosses represented the finest of his travel career.
We attended a very moving official ceremony in which the U.S. military, and American and Japanese veterans participated. All exchanged warm words and made vows that the United States and Japan would always have peace and friendship.
I remember the first speaker, facing the albatrosses that were walking everywhere with impunity, including under the podium from where he was going to talk, joked:
“This is the first time in my life that I’m going to speak before such a large audience.”
After a small snack of sandwiches and cream pastries, some guides suggested we walk to visit the most historical places on the island, but after a while, I got bored and left my group in order to explore the atoll on my own.
Midway was discovered by an American whaling ship in the mid-19th century, and was incorporated into the United States long before Hawaii. Some seventy people live there, many of them volunteers who had offered to study and take care of the albatrosses.
The atoll consists of a circular coral reef with two main islands, Sand Island and Eastern Island. Its beaches are beautiful; it was a paradise to live there as a volunteer.
By the way, I think that Wake and Midway should be two separated territories in TBT.