Wake Island is an important part of the Marshall Islands chain. It is a coral island in the shape of an atoll located in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is in the northeastern area of Micronesia, and it has played an important military role over the years. It is approximately 2,000 miles away from Tokyo, 1,500 miles away from Guam, and 2,300 miles west of Hawaii. It has been claimed by the United States over the years, but it is currently claimed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Wake Island is one of the most isolated islands in the world, as the nearest inhabited island in the Marshall Islands is close to 600 miles away.
The island is technically uninhabited. Nobody lives there throughout the entire year; however, there are approximately 100 people staying on the island at any given time. Because it has served as an important military installation throughout the years, it is important for the United States to maintain a presence in the area. After WWII, the island also served as a missile launch site, so there is still a significant military purpose served by Wake Island.
On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese empire attacked Pearl Harbor. At the same time, the Japanese launched attacks on December 8th, on the other side of the International Date Line, on several other American and Allied physicians in the Pacific Ocean. This includes Wake Island. The United States had originally taken possession of Wake Island in 1899, and an Airfield was built on the island that the Japanese empire wanted. On December 8th, 1941, the Battle of Wake Island commenced. The Japanese empire launched several unsuccessful military attacks, as US Marines were continuously able to repel the Japanese Army. Approximately 12 days after the start of the attack, the island was taken by an overwhelming Japanese force. The island remained in possession of the Japanese empire until they surrendered to the United States in September of 1945.
At the end of World War II, there was a significant increase in international air travel. Advances were made in aeronautics, and Wake Island became a very important base in the Pacific, as planes were looking to refuel as they were traveling between North America and Asia. Regular commercial passenger service started in 1946, and Wake Island saw heavy use. The island also played a very important role in the Korean War, as supply plans would stop on Wake Island to refuel before they proceeded to the Korean peninsula, where they delivered supplies to soldiers. The island also served as a very important location for a missile defense system. During the Cold War, a Missile Impact Location System (MILS) was installed on the island, and it was used to keep track of missile tests that were taking place in North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union.