he history of World War II is populated with battles and place names that have become legendary: Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal, Okinawa. Less familiar are Adak, Attu, and Kiska. They are part of the story of the Aleutian Campaign, in which thousands of American soldiers fought against Japanese forces that had invaded islands off the coast of Alaska, then an American territory. Beginning in June 1942 and lasting through July 1943, American forces struggled to take control of Attu and Kiska. Not only did they confront the Japanese, but they also battled another enemy: the unforgiving climate and weather of the islands. Despite the dramatic environment in which they served, and their successful defense of American soil, their stories have largely disappeared from the collective memory of the war. Currently, the Veterans History Project holds over 500 stories of veterans of the Aleutian Campaign, and hopes to add many more to the collection, in order to best tell the story of World War II's "unknown campaign."
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