Sokeh's ridge hike

The guns of World War II are long silent, but the reminders of that now long ago conflict are still on Pohnpei. On United Nations Day the students of Phi Theta Kappa hiked up the ridge to clean-up around the 127 mm Japanese coastal defense guns. The ridge is filled with history of a war, the memories of which are fading with the passing of the generation who survived the war in these island.
PONAPE HARBOR: Seen from Kolonia is Ponape's main harbor. In the background, Sokehs Rock rises over 600 feet above the sea. Photograph: U.S. Marine Corps, Arthur H. Navarre Collection (Courtesy of Diane Hindy). Copyright ©2008 Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen Association.  All Rights Reserved.
Circa 11 September 1945. Either the USS Hyman and USS Farquhar is likely to be the ship in the harbor based on a preceding page.

The ridge we climbed is on the extreme left of the photograph. The highest point, on the right end of the ridge, is the present day location of the cell towers.

JAPANESE DEFENSES: Located on Sokehs Rock, this Japanese 127mm dual-purpose gun overlooked the main harbor town of Kolonia. Photograph: U.S. Marine Corps, Arthur H. Navarre Collection (Courtesy of Bill Kehr). Copyright © 2008 Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen Association.  All Rights Reserved.
Undated photograph.

Prior to setting off, two of the hikers down the heavy duty boots grandma purchased in Wisconsin, summer 2009. The boots are not used very often, but were sure useful today.
After a long, slow trudge to the top, the gang was excited to reach the 127 mm guns.


Not sure what the unit on the right side of the gun housed, but for a Kosraean it is a good place to sit and rest.


After a photo session with the guns, the gang headed on up to the cell towers, a location that back in 1992 appeared to me to possible be an anti-aircraft gun emplacement and spotting tower base.
Two of the climbers on the "observation platform" built atop a cement equipment shack at the towers.


The back of Paipalap - Sokeh's distinctive rock.
Kolonia with Nett Point in the background. The new state capitol building looming large just right of image center. Built with money from the People's Republic of China - somehow apropos for a trip to see Japanese WWII hardware.
Posing as proof of arrival at the topmost point.

The airport with work occurring on the extension on the far end of the airport. Also under construction is the new expanded terminal building.

Walking back to the guns, the students of Phi Theta Kappa had arrived and were cleaning up around the 127 mm guns. Even in 1992 the guns were lost in the forest as hinted at in the old image above. Since 1992 community efforts to clean up and plant Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, ground orchids, and other flowers have occurred.

Hand-pulling grass from the top of the berm.

And a favorite place to pose for photographs. Seventy years on, these youngsters have no direct knowledge of the war nor do they usually even have elders around from that day and age. The generation that could tell the stories - who were old enough to remember the war - are now a dwindling few.

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