5 Abandoned American Military Airfields of the North Pacific

Image by U.S. Air Force

The North Pacific Ocean is littered with abandoned airfields and other military installations.  Many sit atop tiny atolls and despite being shortlived, played a critical role in history.  Today, most of the infrastructure has gone, but the runways and dispersals stand as a silent reminder to the battles that once raged there.

Midway Eastern Island

Images via Google Earth and Forest & Kim Starr

(Bottom two images licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Midway Atoll is essentially two tiny islands swallowed up by military air bases, both of which still exist today.  After a turbulent wartime history that culminated in the bloody Battle of Midway, the larger of the two bases (Henderson Field on Sand Island) remains in use today as a public airport subsidized by Boeing.  The original airfield on Eastern Island was a strategic American base during World War Two, and became abandoned shortly after.

Images by U.S. Navy

The images above depict the conflict in full swing.  The Battle of Midway, fought between 4-7 June 1942, is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign during World War Two.  Six months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy defeated an Imperial Japanese Navy attack against Midway Atoll, crippling the Japanese fleet irrepairably and turning the tide of battle.

Images by Forest & Kim Starr

(Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

More than six decades later, what was once the scene of intense fighting is now a haven for birds and other wildlife, although marine debris and problems caused by lead based paints used on the buildings continue to present environmental challenges.


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About the author: Tom


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