December 11, 1941, the USMC, Navy and civilian construction workers on Wake Atoll held off a Japanese amphibious landing attempt in what became the Pacific War’s only successful defense against such an assault. Wake held out for another two weeks until the Japanese effected a night landing and got ashore in force.
The garrison surrendered on December 23, 1941 after having inflicting between 700-1,000 casualties on the Japanese. The defenders also sank two destroyers, two transports and a submarine during their desperate stand in the Central Pacific. The December 11, 1941 victory galvanized a dispirited American home front and led to considerable press. “Remember Wake Island,” became a propaganda slogan for months after the atoll’s surrender.