25 Facts About Wake Island


One of 14 U S insular areas, Wake Island is administered by the United States Air Force under an agreement with the U S Department of the Interior.

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Wake Island derives its name from British sea captain Samuel Wake, who rediscovered the atoll in 1796 while in command of the Prince William Henry.

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The name is sometimes attributed to Captain William Wake Island, who is reported to have discovered the atoll from the Prince William Henry in 1792.

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Wake Island is located two-thirds of the way from Honolulu to Guam.

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Presence of the Polynesian rat on the island suggests that Wake was likely visited by Polynesian or Micronesian voyagers at an early date.

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Wake Island first received international attention with the wreck of the barque Libelle.

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Wake Island ordered the schooner Ana, owned and commanded by his son-in-law George H Johnston, to be dispatched with first mate Kausch to search for the missing gig and then sail on to Wake Island to confirm the shipwreck story and recover the buried treasure.

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Since Wake Island appeared to have neither food nor water, the captain and his 12-man crew quickly departed, crafting a makeshift sail by attaching a blanket to an oar.

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Wake Island learned that USAT Sheridan had a similar encounter at Wake with the Japanese.

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Wake Island was now clearly a territory of the United States, but during this period the island was only occasionally visited by passing American ships.

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Wake Island first tried to plot the route on his globe but it showed only open sea between Midway and Guam.

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In 1937, Wake Island became a regular stop for PAA's international trans-Pacific passenger and airmail service, with two scheduled flights per week, one westbound from Midway and one eastbound from Guam.

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Wake Island is credited with being one of the early successes of hydroponics, which enabled Pan American Airways to grow vegetables for its passengers, as it was very expensive to airlift in fresh vegetables and the island lacked natural soil.

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Wake Island's defenders sank two Japanese fast transports and one submarine and shot down 24 Japanese aircraft.

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In 1973, Wake Island was selected as a launch site for the testing of defensive systems against intercontinental ballistic missiles under the U S Army's Project Have Mill.

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The airlift to Wake Island continued at a rate of one C-141 every hour and 45 minutes, each aircraft with 283 refugees on board.

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Subsequently, the island has been used for strategic defense and operations during and after the Cold War, with Wake Island serving as a launch platform for military rockets involved in testing missile defense systems and atmospheric re-entry trials as part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

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Wake Island's location allows for a safe launch and trajectory over the unpopulated ocean with open space for intercepts.

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In July 1995, various units of the U S military established a camp on Wake Island to provide housing, food, medical care and social activities for Chinese illegal immigrants as part of Operation Prompt Return .

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The 611th ASG was already providing support and management to various geographically remote Air Force sites within Alaska and the addition of Wake Island provided the unit with more opportunities for outdoor projects during the winter months when projects in Alaska are very limited.

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Wake Island has no permanent inhabitants and access is restricted.

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Civil administration authority at Wake Island has been delegated by the Secretary of the Air Force to the General Counsel of the Air Force under U S federal law known as the Wake Island Code.

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Since Wake Island is an active Air Force airfield, the commander is the senior officer in charge of all activities on the island.

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Transportation on Wake Island is provided by contractors or government-owned vehicles.

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Wake Island's paved roadway network has been adequately maintained to move materials, services, and personnel from the airfield on the southern end to the personnel support area on the northern end.

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