Current & Former Residents of Midway
Midway is a very special refuge for wildlife, but it is the role that people have played and will continue to play that makes this place come alive. The stories of discovery, adventure, mystery and heroism echo through the historic buildings.
Former residents recall, with mixed emotions, the times in their lives when Midway figured so prominently and the "sense of community" that developed on this remote island. The rich cultural diversity among today's residents makes the living experience more rewarding and memorable for all of us. Our new visitors are captivated by the experience and become friends of the refuge and lasting partners in the success of this project.
Although Midway was "home" last century to squatters, its first "legal" residents were the first employees of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company and U.S. Marines sent to stop the wanton commercial exploitation of birdlife. The employees of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company made a comfortable home amongst the blowing dunes of Sand Island. They were followed in the mid-thirties by Pan Am employees, sent to this remote island to build a prefab hotel in support of the short-lived Clipper operation that spanned the Pacific. The late thirties brought soldiers preparing for war, and intensive construction from 1938-1941. Naval Air Station, Midway Island was commissioned on August 1, 1941. From that point forward, the Navy "community" of residents would develop and manage Midway's islands.
During the Cold War, the number of enlisted personnel and dependents increased to 3,000-5,000 people. Tours of duty with dependents were typically 18 months, or 12 months if dependents were not present. Most military personnel and a small number of civilians lived in barracks. It was a complex military organization and a bustling community as well. On their off hours, residents took advantage of the diversity of recreational pursuits, such as diving, swimming, fishing, baseball and other team sports. Bicycles (or "horses" as they were called) quickly became the transportation of choice. The George Cannon school provided classes for dependent children grades 1-12. A chapel provided worship services for most major faiths. Residents shopped at a Navy Exchange, found medical help in the Station Hospital, listened to a local radio and TV station and watched movies in the Station Theater.