The Aleutians: The Battle For Kiska Essay

The Aleutians: The Battle For Kiska Essay

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Sometimes called the “Forgotten Front1” or the “Forgotten War2” the battle for the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska was one of the bloodiest of WWII. With the Battle for Attu still fresh in their minds, on August 14th, 1943 the US military sent over 100 ships and 30,000 men to land on the island of Kiska to attack a Japanese force estimated at 10,000 men. What they found on the island wound up shocking the Allied Forces.
In December of 1941, the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, pulling the US into WWII. The Japanese commander in charge of the Navy, Admiral Yamamoto, was looking for an opportunity to pull the US Navy into a battle in which he could decisively engage and destroy its carriers. He decided that the best target available would be Midway. However, as a distraction, in June of 1942, Yamamoto opened up a second front by attacking the Aleutian Islands.
Unbeknownst to Admiral Yamamoto, US code breakers had deciphered the Japanese radio transmissions and the Americans knew exactly what he was doing. With this knowledge, Admiral Nimitz, commander of the US Naval forces in the Pacific, decided to send a contingent of 21 ships to Alaska and retained the rest of his fleet in the defense of Midway. The Japanese fleet was able to elude the Americans and attack the base at Dutch Harbor on the 3rd and 4th of June. Afterwards they were able to evade a naval confrontation again, and landed on the islands of Kiska and Attu on the 7th of June, quickly subduing the military and civilian inhabitants.
During the rest of the summer the US and Japanese traded blows, with the US Air Force regularly bombarding the forces on Kiska. To the frustration of the Americans they were not able to dislodge them. Continuing t...

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Huntoon, David H. The Aleutians: Lessons From a Forgotten Campaign. Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 1988.

Martin, Russell. “The Optical Aleutian.” American History, March 1998, pp. 48-55, 63-64.

Mortensen, Daniel R. “The Air Expeditionary Force in Perspective.” Airpower Research Institute Paper, 2003-01.

Rozell, Ned. “Kiska.” Alaska, September 2004, pp. 18, 20-21.

“The Aleutians Operations, 1942-1943.”

The Bloody Aleutians. Directed by Michael Prentice. 2001. Centennial, CO: Jones Entertainment Goup, 2001. DVD.

The US Army Center of Military History WWII Campaigns: Aleutian Islands

United States Navy Combat Narrative The Aleutians Campaign June 1942-1943.

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