The United States Navy took over the island and utilized it as a naval air facility during World War II. It served primarily as a base for long-range air patrols in the Pacific from 1941-1946. During that time, a total of 6,000 soldiers were stationed on the atoll. A seaplane runway was dredged, merging the atoll's two western lagoons into one. The troops also joined three of the islands into one and built a landplane runway about one mile long.  

©Bishop Museum Archives


Palmyra was only attacked once. A Japanese submarine surfaced offshore and shelled the beach. The submarine was driven off by American troops. During this time, the island remained privately owned by the Fullard-Leo family, although the Department of the Navy fought for jurisdiction over the atoll. As a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Fullard-Leo family defeated the U.S. Government for ownership.  

©Bishop Museum Archives

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