The US annexed Wake Island in 1899 for a cable station. An important air and naval base was constructed in 1940-41. In December 1941, the island was captured by the Japanese and held until the end of World War II. In subsequent years, Wake was developed as a stopover and refueling site for military and commercial aircraft transiting the Pacific. Since 1974, the island's airstrip has been used by the US military, as well as for emergency landings. All operations on the island were suspended and all personnel evacuated in August 2006 with the approach of super typhoon IOKE (category 5), which struck the island with sustained winds of 250 kph and a 6 m storm surge inflicting major damage. A US Air Force assessment and repair team returned to the island in September and restored limited function to the airfield and facilities. The future status of activities on the island will be determined upon completion of the survey and assessment.
note:since super typhoon IOKE, a small military contingent along with 75 contractor personnel have returned to the island to conduct clean-up and restore basic operations on the island (July 2008 est.)
defense is the responsibility of the US; the US Air Force is responsible for overall administration and operation of the island; the launch support facility is administered by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA)