Important Date in Johnston Island (JI) History – The 40’s

An Air Mail Letter from JI Dated 1942:

On 15 December 1941, two Japanese ships that had been part of the attack on Pearl Harbor eight days earlier opened fire on Johnston Island. The shelling lasted about 10 minutes. Fortunately, Johnston suffered no casualties and only minimal damage. On 21-22 December 1941, a Japanese submarine attempted another attack on the atoll, again without causing injury or damage. JA’s coastal artillery guns returned fire, driving off the sub.

During the remainder of WWII, American submarines used JA as a refueling base, and by 1944 the atoll was one of the busiest air transport terminals in the Pacific. Air Transport Command aeromedical evacuation planes began stopping at Johnston enroute to Hawaii. On 25 February 1944, ATC flight nurses Lts. Alice Kirais and Elsie Nolan stepped off a C-54 medical evac plane, becoming the first women known to set foot on the remote atoll.

Following V-J Day on 14 August 1945, Johnston Atoll saw the flow of men and aircraft that had been coming from the mainland into the Pacific turn around. Beginning 27 September 1947, over 1,300 B-29 and B-24 bombers passed through the Marianas, Kwajalein, Johnson Island, and Oahu enroute to Mather Field and civilian life. On 1 July 1948, operational control of JA transferred to USAF under the Pacific Air Command