Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Operation Landcrab

Family visits continue up here in Juneau, but I wanted to share something I learned with you really quickly. One of my parents' favorite things to do when in Juneau is to hit up the Alaska State Museum (it's interesting, plus always a great thing to count on with our rainy climate). This time around we saw an exhibit about the World War II battles fought in Alaska. That's right, Hawaii wasn't the only state to be attacked!

'When "Over There" Was Here'
(my mom checking out the uniforms)

The Aleutian Island chain was perfect for Japan's military strategy since it bridged the Pacific between there and North America. Unalaska (aka Dutch Harbor) was bombed and the islands of Kiska and Attu were at one time occupied by Japanese troops. The battle to regain Attu had one of the highest percentage of losses in WWII history! It's name: Operation Landcrab. ("Oooooh", you're all thinking, "that's why she's sharing this.")

Americans unloading gear in Massacre Bay

In May 1943, 15,000 Americans went up against 2,500 Japanese soldiers (I've also read it was 17,000 Americans versus 2,380 Japanese men, so I think these are just rough estimates). You can read about the details here (it's really interesting, and an amazing piece of Alaskan history)! All told, only 29 Japanese fighters survived while 1,500 Americans were wounded and 550 soldiers were killed in battle. What added to the devastation of war was the challenging climate that comes with an Aleutian battle site: 1,200 Americans died simply from Attu's climate.

hauling supplies through the snow on Attu

Japan installed a peace monument on Engineer Hill in 1987. It's made of titanium in the hopes that it can withstand Attu's extreme weather.

remembering Operation Landcrab

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