Beating Swords into Plowshares, Micronesian-Style
October 10, 2009 12:34 PM   Subscribe

The Pacific theatre of World War 2 left many traces behind. The shipwrecks of Chuuk Lagoon are probably the most famous, but they're hardly the primary reminders of former military action present in the day-to-day lives of many Micronesians.

Besides the many large-scale remains of the war, such as abandoned airfields Quonset huts, and abandoned bunkers, many Micronesians live with recycled WW2 materials of a smaller kind.

Marsden Matting is one of the most commonly seen pieces of WW2 materiel, and Marsden airstrips still exist. The materials have also found new life as walkways, construction materials, and, most often, as fencing (2).

In the Marshall islands, Japanese military rice cookers have been turned into water catchments, and 127 mm ammunition boxes have been repurposed as water catchments, storage lockers, and copra driers.

The scavenging of airplane parts is perhaps the zenith of Pacific war recycling. B-24s, in particular, presented a wealth of parts that found new peacetime purposes, such oxygen cylinders, propellors, and fuselage pieces. Even after the war, the US military was leaving behind items that the local people found useful: drop tanks from F-86s.

For even more photos and text about Micronesian military recycling, check out this PDF (note: 7 MB).
posted by barnacles (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
A fascinating subject, barnacles, thank you.
posted by hattifattener at 12:56 PM on October 10, 2009

Great post!
posted by maxwelton at 1:28 PM on October 10, 2009

I have been educated and informed and I thank you for it barnacles. But get off the bottom of my boat.
posted by Abiezer at 2:26 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I graduated from high school on Kwajalein Island, in the Marshalls. There was all kinds of stuff in the lagoon, occasionally pieces of plans or ships would wash up on shore. There was an intact Japanese bunker too.
posted by COD at 3:36 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cool! This is a great post. From the Marsden Matting link, I found an amazing Wikipedia article on the Berlin Blockade. So, this comment is pretty unrelated, but you satisfied my Cold War knowledge quota for today. And I thank you for that, sir.
posted by jstef at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2009

Yeah, this is good stuff. A lot of the re-use stuff reminds me of the Afrigadget blog.
posted by jquinby at 6:17 PM on October 10, 2009

I used to live on Milli, in the Marshall Islands. Former home of a Japanese air strip, there were a couple of gutted Zeros, many bunkers, anti-aircraft guns, huge old shell casings, etc.
posted by mecran01 at 6:57 PM on October 10, 2009

thank you ffor this lovely post and the wonderful Marshalls link, i'd link to another blog on "RE culture" (reuse, repurpose, recycle, repair etc) inspired by Erik's AFrigadget but it breaks a rule ;p
posted by infini at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2009

Post it, infini. The Rule only applies in posts, not comments.
posted by vanar sena at 12:01 AM on October 11, 2009

great post, thanks.
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 12:16 AM on October 11, 2009

Terrific post!
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2009


REculture: A post consumption economy
Repair, reuse, repurpose, recycle ~ exploring the informal businesses at the BoP
posted by infini at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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