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Palmyra Atoll (U.S. Minor Outlying Islands)

Last modified: 2018-04-07 by ian macdonald
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[United States Flag] image by Joseph McMillan

Unofficial flag
[Unofficial Flag of Palmyra Atoll] by Skip Wheeler

ISO Code: UM-95
ISO 3166-3 Code: PUUM
FIPS 10-4 Code: LQ
MARC Code: up
IOC Code: Not Applicable
Status: unincorporated territory of the United States


See also:


Explanation of the Flag

I recently contacted the Nature Conservancy (the new caretakers of Palmyra Atoll) to see if they would consider making [the flag used by U.S. sailors during World War II] the unofficial flag of the atoll--giving some respect to the men who gave up so much for our freedom and who left the atoll slightly changed but pretty much the way it is today.

I received a letter from the regional director of the Nature Conservancy. She gave me permission to use the extinct Palmyra flag for our state and territorial flag display at the USS Arizona Memorial on December 7, 2001, the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Palmyra has agreed to fly the "GI flag" on an unofficial basis.

The Palmyra design was slightly altered to meet reality. The original design and color were pretty much kept; however the red sky was enlarged and the yellow beach was reduced. The sun was "lifted" out of the water. The Nature Conservancy has no intention of making this flag the official banner for the territory, but they allowed us to manufacture it for the December 7th exercises.
Skip Wheeler, 10 August 2001, 22 August 2001, 25 December 2001

The unofficial flag would be accepted as a flag of these possessions but in digital form only.
John Moody, 2 March 2018

The flag is described in NAVA News, 208, 2010.
Esteban Rivera, 5 March 2018


Reconstructed World War II Flag of Palmyra Atoll

[Reconstructed World War II Flag of Palmyra Atoll] image by Andy Weir

My grandfather was stationed on Palmyra during World War II and I have a black and white picture of him and a few of his buddies in front of the flagpole. On top is the 48-star US flag, and under that is a flag I didn't recognize. I asked my grandfather, and he said it was not a naval flag or the flag of his unit. Our conclusion is that it must be the flag of Palmyra, probably invented by the sailors there at the time. My grandfather remembers the colors, and there is no coat of arms or anything on it. It is just a collection of shapes. As far as I can tell from the picture and a ruler, it is a 2:3 flag. I can't be sure of that, because it is not being fully wind-blown in the picture. I also cannot guarantee that the flag I make will be perfectly accurate. There are parts of it I can't see, but it's mostly bars anyway, with one half-circle (representing a "flat" Japanese dot according to my grandfather, but he's prone to exaggeration). I took some liberties with the colors, because I was working with a black and white photo. My grandfather says it looked like a sunset (or sunrise) as seen from the beach at Palmyra, and claims to remember the colors. The red bar on top is the sunrise (or sunset) sky. The blue bar in the middle is the ocean, and the yellow bar on the bottom is the beach. The "beach" was more idealistic than anything else, because Palmyra doesn't have much beach. The foliage mostly goes almost to the water. The yellow half-circle to me obviously represents the sun, but my grandfather says it is a "deflating Japanese dot." If that were the case, why not make the semi-circle red? You'd have to pick a new color for the "sky," I suppose. Anyway, I disagree with my grandfather's assessment.

So, there you have it. The unofficial, probably extinct, made up by sailors, flew over the island for a couple of years only, not recognized by any authority, flag of Palmyra.
Andy Weir, 4 January 2001


About Palmyra Atoll

According to the CIA World Factbook:

Palmyra Atoll - 11.9 sq. km., uninhabited, about 50 islets covered with dense vegetation, coconut trees, and balsa-like trees up to 30 meters tall; incorporated territory of the US; privately owned, but administered by the Office of Territorial and  International Affairs, US Department of the Interior.
Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2000

Originally part of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Palmyra was incorporated as part of the Territory of Hawaii, but excluded from the state. Administered by Office of Insular Affairs, Department of the Interior.
Phil Nelson, 25 April 2000

An environmental agency bought Palmyra from the Hong family of Hawaii in the late 80s and vowed to prevent any development there.
Andy Weir, 4 January 2001

The Nature Conservancy site states: before agreeing to sell the atoll to the Conservancy, the Fullard-Leo family of Hawaii received a number of offers for commercial developments at Palmyra, including a repository for spent nuclear fuel and a major resort and casino development. The atoll had also been targeted as a site for a massive fishing and processing operation. In addition to raising the money to cover the costs of acquiring Palmyra, the Conservancy is working to produce a management plan for the atoll. Priorities include protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat and determining how best to manage public access to the atoll. In the waning days of the Clinton Administration, the area was declared to be the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Phil Nelson, 15 February 2001