Seventy years ago today, bombs fell on Dutch Harbor. The casualties and damage on a remote Aleutian islet amounted to little more than a blip in the cataclysm of World War II. To this day, educated Americans are unaware that it happened at all.
But the battle permanently changed Alaska in ways that few at the time realized.
Starting at 3:25 a.m. on June 3, warplanes took off from the carriers Ryujo and Junyo; Val dive bombers, Kate torpedo bombers, Zero fighters. Weather turned many back, but those that continued found clear skies between them and the 6,282 soldiers below.
On the ground, sirens screamed. Men raced to anti-aircraft guns. Ships rushed to clear out of the harbor. Army Fort Mears, with neat rows of closely-packed wooden barracks, presented a choice target. The bomber aimed for it and the communications facility on what became known as Suicide Hill. Zeros strafed the defenders in the trenches, then zipped back to their carriers.
"By 7:45 a.m. all the pilots and their crews had arrived safely home," says historian John Cloe in his book "The Aleutian Warriors." Numbers reported by Cloe indicate more than 40 American dead at the end of the first day of the battle.Click the link to read the whole article.