March 18, 2014 Veterans History Project Explores "Unknown Campaign" of World War II
Contact: Megan Harris (202) 707-8205; Monica Mohindra (202) 707-1071
The history of World War II is populated with battles and place names that have become legendary: Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal and 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, which was then an American territory. It is these battlegrounds – and the stories of those who served there – that the Veterans History Project (VHP) brings to light in the latest installment of the “Experiencing War” web series, available at www.loc.gov/vets.
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 of the islands. Despite the dramatic environment in which they served, and their successful defense of American soil, these soldiers’ stories have largely disappeared from the collective memory of the war. Currently, the Veterans History Project holds more than 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."
With this feature, VHP highlights the stories of a handful of veterans who took part in the Aleutian Campaign. They include Dean Galles, who sustained bayonet injuries during hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese, and Clifton Davis, who describes the unique blizzards known as “willowaws” that were common in the Aleutians. Also featured are the stories of Seabee Earl Long, who discovered a love of reading while on the long journey to the Aleutians, and Howard Bernstein, a pilot who flew bombing missions out of Attu Island.
Congress created the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of America’s war veterans from WWI through the current conflicts, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/vets or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to advance the knowledge and creativity of the American people through its collections, programs and services. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.