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    Description

    Battle of Wake Island: U.S. Flag Salvaged From the Onslaught of Japanese Forces.
    128" x 90" cotton or wool bunting 48-star flag that flew over the American base on Wake Island during the first battle between Japanese and American forces in World War II. The Japanese attacked Wake Island simultaneously with Pearl Harbor. The operation commenced on December 7, 1941 (December 8th as the island was on the other side of the international date-line) and ended on December 23, 1941. A heroic and poorly armed garrison of approximately 500 Marines and Navy personnel fought off two landings and countless aerial assaults before surrendering to vastly superior forces. An attempt to reinforce the island was of necessity aborted. In the meantime, US planes sank the destroyer Hayate, which gained the distinction of being the first Japanese vessel sunk during the war. The Japanese occupied the island until shortly after the signing of the Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri. The exploits of the defenders were dramatized in the 1942 film "Wake Island".

    As the Japanese made their second and final landing, a Micronesian civilian worker retrieved the flag and was pursued by Japanese soldiers. Running between some buildings, he bunched up the flag and quickly buried it beneath some sand before receiving a bullet wound to the leg. He escaped death as the Japanese wanted him for slave labor. Once released from the hospital, he went back and buried the flag more securely beneath a hut. Shortly after the end of the war, fighter pilot Lt. Avery Lett stopped on Wake Island for refueling. He met the civilian worker who gave him the flag for safekeeping. After serving in the Korean War, Lt. Lett returned home where he displayed the flag on Memorial Day, July 4th and Veteran's Day every year from 1953 to 2000.

    The lot includes a copy of a notarized statement from Lt. Lett dated February 22, 2008, some information about the Battle of Wake Island along with a copy of a New York Times article on Wake Island published on December 24, 1941.

    Condition: No markings. Two grommets on hoist. Hemmed on fly. Blue color to canton faded. Felt repair/patch to top right corner, a few very small holes. The red stripes still retain their original vibrant color.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    10th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 870

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