Bonita Gilbert

Building for War: The Saga of Wake Island

The presentation opens with an overview of the story of civilian contractors, many from the Inland Northwest, who came to Wake Island to build a navy base in 1941, and Bonnie’s reasons and methods for researching and writing a book about them.  She discusses Wake’s location, Pan American role, Wake’s strategic importance, buildup, the shocking descent into war, and the fate of the Wake men.  This saga offers a new perspective on WWII and why the U.S. was caught by surprise in December, 1941.  A running slide show includes photos from her 2011 Wake trip, and she includes a reading from the book and information on the current JPAC mission before opening to discussion.