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World War II in Alaska Guide: Introduction

Introduction

During World War II, Alaska was a territory. Its Aleutian Islands became a battlefield when Japanese forces invaded and occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska.  These attacks, a diversionary tactic of the Japanese during the Battle of the Midway, resulted in a 14 month air war and the relocation of  the Unangan (Aleut) people.

Attu

 

In the fall, after the June 1942 Japanese invasion and occupation of  Attu, forty people were sent to Japan as Prisoner-of-War, Twenty-one people died during this internment, including four babies, born in Japan. In 2012, the National Park Service published Nick Golodoff’s Attu boy.  Golodoff was six when his family was captured and sent to Japan. In this book his memoir is combined with transcriptions of the oral histories of other Attu survivors.  Sadly, during the war, Goldoff’s village was destroyed and the United States Government opted to use the island for military purposes. The Attu were not allowed to return. Today Attu is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the Alaska National Maritime Wildlife Refuge

Battle of Attu

The Battle of Attu, which took place from 11–30 May 1943, was fought between United States forces--aided by Canadian reconnaissance and fighter-bomber support--and the Empire of Japan, on Attu Island. Attu Island is an Aleutian Island, Iocated off the coast of Alaska.  The Battle of Attu was the only World War II land battle fought on incorporated territory of the United States.  Attu: The Forgotten Battle looks at this battle.

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