The MONAB Story

A history of the mobile airfields of the Royal Navy

The building of the US Navy airstrip on Ponam Island



MONAB 7 commissioning



Jack T, Matthews 78th NCB H.Q. Company

Reproduced from the 78th NCB cruise book 1944

The 78th Naval Construction Battalion began movement to Ponam Island from Log Negros in late May, 1944, for the purpose of constructing an airbase for the servicing of carrier planes and as a shore base for carrier squadrons while in the area. The island was a small coral formation about two miles long and not over one-quarter mile wide at its greatest width and was located approximately 30 miles west of Lorengau.

The Battalion spent nearly 10 weeks on Ponam and during this time its construction activities reached a new high efficiency and production.

A 5000' x 150' coral surfaced runway with parking areas was constructed, together with shop facilities, storage warehouses, tank farms, roads, docks, and a camp of over 100 Quonset huts.

Work was maintained around the clock during most of this period. It was a hard, gruelling job, but one which when completed gave every man a feeling that he had done his work well. The knowledge that the Ponam Airfield would prove to be an important factor in the eventual defeat of the Japanese gave all hands an added incentive to rush the work through to completion.

MONAB 7 commissioning

Aerial view of the finished product, - note glistening coral surface, remains of coconut plantation.



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