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Wake Island
Timeline: Yellowstone: 1936
OTL equivalent: Wake Island
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699px-Wake Island in Oceania.svg.png
Location of Wake Island encircled in red
 -  Claimed by US January 17, 1899 
 -  Reclaimed by American Pacific-Asiatic Zone 1938 
 -  Occupied by Empire of Japan 1939 

Wake Island (also known as Wake Atoll) is a coral atoll located in the western Pacific Ocean in the northeastern area of the Micronesia subregion. After the Yellowstone Eruption of 1936, the island was under the jurisdiction of the American Pacific-Asiatic Zone - the governing body of the former U.S. West Coast and Pacific territories - before being occupied by the Empire of Japan in the Pacific War.


Wake Island was first discovered on October 2, 1568 by Spanish explorer and navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neyra. Over the centuries that passed, the Spanish and the British would lay claim on this island.

The island was annexed by the United States in 1899. Due to its strategic location located between Honolulu, Guam, and Manila in the Philippine Islands, a cable station, telegraph station, and a cooling station was constructed. The native population of birds in the island would be poached for feathers by Japanese nationals. Occasionally, several Japanese sailors would end up castaway on Wake Island. On the early 1930s, Wake Island was used a stop for Trans-Pacific flights from the United States to mainland China. Concerned with the Empire of Japan's expansion in the Pacific from the Mandate of Nanyo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed Wake Island, Johnston, Sand Island at Midway and Kingman Reef, under the control of the Department of the Navy. In an attempt to disguise the Navy's military intentions, Rear Admiral Harry E. Yarnell then designated Wake Island as a bird sanctuary.

The USS Nitro arrived at Wake Island on March 8, 1935 and conducted a two-day ground, marine and aerial survey, providing the Navy with strategic observations and complete photographic coverage of the atoll. Four days later on March 12, 1935, Secretary of the Navy Claude A. Swanson formally granted Pan American Airways permission to construct facilities at Wake Island.

The Yellowstone Eruption of 1936 cut off the U.S. Navy personnel station at Wake Island from the contiguous United States. Since they could no longer sustain themselves on the island, these sailors had to evacuate to the nearby Nanyo with negotiations from the Japanese government. From there on, the sailors evacuated to Guam and to the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The American Pacific-Asiatic Zone would reclaim Wake Island and redeploy forces there. During the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1939, Wake Island was attacked by Japanese air forces from the Marshall Islands the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wake fell to the Japanese on December 23, 1939 after American forces surrendered when supply from Hawaii was cut off.