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Plane engine failed on flight to Wake Island

While I was assigned to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., once again I was called to Tachikawa, Japan, to repair some printing equipment.

I had finished my job and was on my way back to the States. Halfway to Hickam Field, Hawaii, was Wake Island, our refueling stop.

Our headquarters Navy Unit was assigned to Wake Island to refuel all our transport aircraft coming and going to Japan.

When we were past the point of no return, one of our transport’s engine went out. As I was flying as additional crewmember, I was a few feet from the pilot when he started sweating.

I started sweating, also.

The plane was loaded and all you could see was the Pacific Ocean. When I saw Wake Island, it looked like a small postage stamp in the ocean.

The pilot made a good landing, and the fire trucks were ready near the runway. At this time, Wake Island only had a few people on the island.

Today, Wake Island (also known as Wake Atoll) is a coral atoll with a coastline of 12 miles, just north of the Marshall Islands. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. There are about 150 people living on its 2.85 square miles.

Access to the island is restricted, and all activities on the island are managed by the U.S. Air Force.

My sixth landing on Wake Island was enough for me. I don’t miss it a bit.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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