History Presentation and PBY Flight Demonstration The Battle for Alaska
Saturday, June 10 2023
Doors Open at 8am Presentation at 9am
In mid-1942 the continental territory of the U.S. was invaded by the Empire of Japan. Beginning with air attacks on June 3rd, a small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands chain in the Territory of Alaska. While extremely remote and barely inhabitable, the islands’ strategic location provided a base from which Japan could control Pacific shipping routes. Further, the U.S. feared that the islands could be used as base of operations for full-scale aerial attacks on cities along the U.S. West Coast.
The remoteness of the islands and challenges posed by seasonal weather and difficult terrain delayed Allied efforts to drive the invading forces out for nearly a year. Once the joint American-Canadian counter-attack was underway, weather severely complicated operations resulting in many accidents and heavy losses of planes and aircrew.
The battle to reclaim Attu was launched on May 11, 1943 and was completed after a final Banzai charge by the Japanese on May 29. On August 15, 1943, the Allies launched an invasion force on Kiska following a sustained three-week barrage, only to discover that the Japanese had secretly withdrawn from the island on July 29. The overall campaign is sometimes called the “Forgotten Battle” because it has been overshadowed by the Battle of Midway and other events in the Pacific Theater of the war. It is also termed “The Thousand Mile War” because of the vast distances involved.
On June 10th at 9:00 am Air Force veteran and museum docent Don Miles will describe this important, but largely unknown military campaign that took place in what was to become the State of Alaska. Miles has spent time in the Aleutians and has flown in the Alaskan wilderness. Weather permitting, the presentation will be followed by a flight demonstration of the museum’s PBY Catalina amphibious aircraft. PBYs played a key role in the Aleutian Island campaign.