The Foreign Service Journal - December 2013 - page 26

than invade it. Even though Pohnpei was bypassed during the
amphibious campaign, remnants of the bombing campaign are
littered throughout the island.
On takeoff from Pohnpei, I get a glimpse of the archaeo-
logical site of Nan Madol, home of the Saudeleur Dynasty
from 1100 to 1600, in the distance along the eastern side of
the island. This site is composed of megalithic structures and
funerary sites. It is said the founders of this dynasty came from
afar and looked nothing like the native people; but they did set
up an organized government, unifying Pohnpeians for the first
In the Marshall Islands
After a day of island hopping from Guam, the flight finally
touches down on the 50-yard-wide airstrip on the 30-mile-long
atoll in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands. As the aircraft
taxis to the quaint terminal, I see lagoon out one window and
surf out the other. It’s a fairly casual arrival in keeping with the
relaxed nature of the islands.
The cleared embassy escort meets me planeside and takes
me immediately to the chancery. The embassy is small enough
that the ambassador or deputy chief of mission typically drops
by for a chat during the sign-over of classified pouches.
On Jan. 30, 1944, when U.S. forces invaded, they discovered
that the Japanese, who had managed the island since 1922,
had already evacuated to Kwajalein. With Majuro’s capture,
the United States gained one of the largest anchorages in the
Pacific. It became one of the busiest ports in the world until the
action moved further west during the latter part of the war.
After spending 47 days adrift when his bomber crashed in
the South Pacific, bombardier Louis Zamperini (the focus of
a best-selling novel,
) was captured by the Japanese
off the Marshall Islands’ seaplane base of Wotje in June 1943.
He was then moved to Kwajalein as a prisoner of war before
being transferred to the POW camp in Ofuna, Japan, by ship
via Chuuk, a few months later. The nearly seven weeks Zam-
perini spent floating in the Pacific surrounded by sharks and
the subsequent six weeks of imprisonment on Kwajalein were
halcyon days compared with what awaited him on the Japa-
nese mainland.
After a restful night on Majuro under a blizzard of stars, it’s
time to head to the embassy to pick up the post’s outbound
shipment. The flight, which arrives from Honolulu, retraces the
previous day’s route back to Guam. Another long day of island
hopping concludes with a drive to Andersen Air Base for stor-
age and an overnight in Guam. Early the following morning, all
regional outbound classified diplomatic pouches are consoli-
dated and dispatched to Manila via Yap and Koror.
The Republic of Palau
The Manila flight continues southwest from Yap toward
Koror, part of the Republic of Palau, the westernmost cluster
of Caroline Islands. All these islands, including Yap, were also
part of the League of Nations Mandate that granted control to
the Japanese after World War I.
Koror itself, where the embassy is located, is currently
staffed by an ambassador and a few officers. It was not directly
WithMajuro’s capture, the United States gained
one of the largest anchorages in the Pacific.
Majuro, Marshall Islands. When U.S. forces invaded on Jan. 30,
1944, they found that the Japanese already evacuated to
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