Mogmog Island at Ulithi in the Marianas.

Colorized Painting of Lt.(jg) Douglas Raymond Cahoon
Ulithi was located 360 miles southwest of Guam, 850 miles east of the Philippines, and 1,300 miles south of Tokyo. It was a typical volcanic atoll  with coral, white sand and palm trees, all situated in the Western Caroline Islands. The reef ran roughly twenty miles north and south by ten miles across, enclosing a vast anchorage with the average depth of 80 to 100 feet - the only suitable anchorage within 800 miles.

    When the U. S. Navy arrived on the largest Ulithi island they found about 400 natives and three Japanese soldiers. The four largest islands were taken over and put to immediate use by the navy. Asor was setup as a headquarters, while Sorlen was used as a shop to maintain and repair ships. Mogmog was assigned for recreation. The big island, Falalop, was just wide enough for an airstrip which allowed planes to fly in from Guam with over 1,200 passengers, 4,500 sacks of mail, and 260,000 pounds of air freight a week.

    By October of 1944, a whole floating base was in operation at Ulithi. Six thousand ship fitters, artificers, welders, carpenters, and electricians arrived aboard repair ships, destroyed tenders, and floating dry docks. One of the ships even had an air-conditioned optical shop. There also was a supply of base metal that could be made into an alloy and used to form any part the Navy needed. Other ships included, an ice cream barge that made 500 gallons a shift, while another distilled fresh water and baked bread and pies. The refueling ships not only took
fuel to the combat ships in the strike areas, but added men, mail, medical supplies, and take orders for spare parts. Thus, Ulithi went from a quiet, lonely atoll to the largest naval base in the world.

    There were no liberty towns in the pacific, and during the seven months that Ulithi served as a base, tiny Mogmog was the only land that most men of the Pacific fleet set foot on. Doug probably made it to Mogmog at least once, but it is doubtful that he had any interest in returning, although he took time to paint a peaceful moment on the island. During the eight or ten days that their carrier was in the harbor, each crewman was allowed one or two days ashore. After the carriers arrived at Ulithi harbor, a parade of LCIs and LCTs pulled alongside and 700 men would climb aboard each boat and shove off for Mogmog. As many as 15,000 eager sailors a day swarmed onto the small, sixty acre island. They arrived at about 1:00 p.m. and stayed until 6:00 p.m., when everyone was required to return to his ship. So many men were milling about on the island that, according to one Navy report, ?Mogmog resembled a sandwich discarded near an ant heap.? The report continued stating that a ?sailors? favorite activities on the island were the four B?s - bathing, baseball, boxing, and above all beer 
drinking.?

     Mogmog offered a small staff built chapel, a movie theatre and refreshment stands that provided thirsty sailors with alcohol and soft drinks. Rank had its privileges even on Mogmog. A superior area, known as Officers? Country, was off limits to enlisted men and allowed officers to lounge about in thatch-roof clubs, many times enjoying the music provided by a volunteer band of black sailors. As a junior officer, Doug was assigned a separate club from the lieutenants, captains, and admirals, and was given his own ?Fleet Officers? Club, Ulithi
Lagoon? membership card. Navy nurses were the only women allowed on the island and they were the exception to the rigid caste system, off-duty Navy nurses were allowed to circulate freely among any of the officers? clubs, but were expected to avoid social encounters with enlisted men.

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