Grand Rapids, MI (Take & Five & Company) -- President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7th, 1941, " ...a date that would live in infamy". Most remember it as the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor leaving thousands either dead or injured. What many don't know is that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese headed for a tiny, yet strategically important, island in the Pacific ... Wake Island.
At the time, Ralph Holewinski was a 20 year-old Marine Corporal from Gaylord, MI, stationed on Wake with 449 other Marines and 70 sailors. Japanese planes attacked Wake Island the day after they attacked Pearl Harbor. Outgunned, Holewinski and others managed to fight off the Japanese and hold the island for the next fifteen days before being taken prisoner.
Historians and veterans herald Holewinski as a hero for his actions during the battle for Wake Island. He was awarded the prestigious Bronze Star, but family members and other veterans are working to get him the Navy Cross - the second highest service award next to the Medal of Honor.
Holewinski and other veterans headed back to Wake Island for a reunion in 2004 to film the History Channel special, "Wake Island: The Alamo of The Pacific".
To watch the interview with Ralph Holewinski and learn more about what happened during the days on Wake Island, watch the video above! Interested in reading more about the battle for Wake Island? Check out this list of books about the attack and it's survivors.