Commuters Go 1,000 Miles to Honolulu

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Commuters Go 1,000 Miles to Honolulu


Article describing a small colony living on Palmyra soon after it was handed back to the original owners, who succesfully sued the Navy for control. Describes the number of people living there, and their being employed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.


Brownsville Herald


Brownsville Herald




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Inflation? Housing Shortage?

Nothing like that plagues residents of this city's most outlying suburb.

That's the report of a commuter who made a 1,000 mile trip downtown recently.

Otto Hournung Jr spanned a might broad stretch of the Pacific when he flew in from Palmyra atoll to go shopping. But the jaunt was actually from one part of town to another for Honolulu's "city limits" are 960 nautical miles to the southwest - just beyond Palmyra.

"The 57 Americans living out there regard themselves as the forgotten people of the territory." Hournung said.

Once a booming naval airbase, the atoll dozes now in the backwash of Pacific activity. It is populated by 32 men, 14 women, and 11 children, who hold down a small weather station and emergency air strip for the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Just a string of 52 damp islets, Palmyra boasts no post office, school or night club. There is no dentist and no doctor. There are no office holders-except an unofficial "deputy high sheriff" who servers without pay.

Palmyra hasn't always basked in peace and quiet.

A japanese cruiser shelled its military installations in 1942, and a wild storm sent high tides over most of its land a year ago.

Since the captain of the ship Palmyra discovered the island group for the United States in 1802, the kingdoms of Hawaii and Great Britain decided they owned Palmyra. American rights were finally settled, but actual title to Palmyra was confused up to last May.

Then the US Navy lost a battle of litigation it had been fighting for years with Leslie Fullard-Leo of Honolulu who said Palmyra was his private atoll. The US Supreme Court agree with Fullard-Leo.

That was seven years after the Navy sailed in with dynamite, bulldozers and an estimated $22,000,000 to turn the atoll into an immense airbase.

Since the Navy steamed away last spring, the tropical foliage has tangled itself over abandoned highways, messhalls and barracks.

Original Format



“Commuters Go 1,000 Miles to Honolulu,” Palmyra Archive, accessed February 25, 2020,