Saturday, August 4, 2012

War Is REAL And Never Insignificant

It's true, there was actually a war fought right here on North American soil .  The Japanese did bomb the continent.  Lives were lost, many lives were lost, maybe not as many as in Germany but tell that to the family of a loved on who was fighting in Alaska in WW2.  War is war.

To be  honest, I am not a fan of 'war', I mean who is really?   I know there are people who are absolutely fascinated with war, and those people bring immeasurable value, and protection to our country. To me, the history of the war is what interests me. After all, wars have helped shape our society as we now know it.

L-R F/O Jim Gohl,  F/O Robert Lynch, & F/O John Ingalls
RCAF 111F Squadron, 1942
When my grandfather passed in 1996 and we discovered all his war memorabilia, it intrigued me.   But then life got busy and I forgot all about it until a few months ago when my neighbor had asked me what kind of plane my grandfather flew in WW2.  That lead me to countless hours, and still counting by the way, of research on the Aleutian campaign. It saddens me that the Aleutian campaign is known as the "The Forgotten War", that all those servicemen who endured the most treacherous conditions and sacrificed their lives for the immediate safety of our North America were not given the recognition they deserved.  That historians and other war strategists at the time deemed the Japanese invasion as a minor and insignificant distraction.  Again, war is war, people died, people suffered.

The Aleutian Islands, where that war was fought, were so remote that it has been said, many of them felt abandoned by the county and that they were left up there to die.  Suicide and mental breakdown rates were higher than any other war.  They lived in tents or Quonsets huts in sub zero temperatures, supplies were hard to get due to their remoteness.  Mail from home, their main source of joy, took months to arrive.  Everything had to be shipped in on boat with limited supply space which took weeks or even months sometimes, depending on the weather which was seldomly good.  Besides living conditions that were difficult,  the flying conditions for the airmen was even worse.  They had to brave long journeys over the rough Bering Sea, flying through the spontaneous thick Alaskan fog never knowing if a mountain was going to pop up out of the sky.  The Aleutian campaign claimed the highest loss of aircraft due to weather related crashes with over 150 aircraft lost due to climate alone.  The weather also was responsible for thousands of troops that suffered from frost bite related injuries, which to those of you who live in warm climates and are unfamiliar with the pain of frostbite,  it can be so severe you can lose body parts.

Quonset Hut on Adak, AK 1942
source- National Park Service
The number of servicemen lost in combat is still unclear at this point, the numbers are inconsistent depending on the sparse literature out there, but it is reported to have had the worst casualty rate since Hiroshima.  If that is not war, I don't know what is.

 Now, can you imagine what would have happened if the Japanese were met with no defense and were allowed to take over Kiska, Attu or Dutch Harbor without a fight.  Heck yea, they would have kept right on marching towards the mainland.  Doesn't sound so insignificant to me.  The North needed to be defended, and I am so thankful that those troops were there.

If you know of any Aleutian Island Veterans, either Canadian or American, I would like to honor them in the "In Memory" page.  Please contact me for details and spread the word and share this site with your friends.

1 comment:

  1. War Is REAL And Never Insignificant
    It's correct, there was actually in war lives were lost, many lives were lost, the family of a loved on who was fighting in Alaska in World War 2. War is war at the end of it, it just become a memorabilia not more than this.