On 3 June 1942, Japanese forces bombed the small settlement and naval outpost of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Japanese interest in the U.S. territory of Alaska stemmed from the bombing raid of Tokyo on 18 April 1942 in which 16 U.S. B-25 bombers launched from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Their origin unknown to Japanese forces, they suspected the aircraft came from a secret base somewhere in the northern U.S. territories. This theory made sense because the farthest west islands in the Aleutian chain lay only 650 miles from Japanese territory. Under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese forces planned to use the Aleutians as a diversion to lure U.S. Naval fleets from Pearl Harbor north and move in to seize control of Midway Island. Admiral Yamamoto concluded that Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific naval fleet would then divert his forces south to Midway only to be met by a large concentration of Japanese naval forces where he would then deliver the final destructive blow to an already crippled Pacific U.S naval fleet. Yamamoto sent a small portion of the 176 ship strong Japanese fleet north to converge on the Aleutians while he sent the remainder of his fleet South East to seize Midway Island. General Nimitz learned of Yamamoto’s plans after U.S. Military Intelligence broke the code of the Japanese Naval forces. Avoiding being ensnared in Yamamoto’s strategy, Nimitz planned an offensive on both the Japanese forces at Midway and the smaller fleet in the Aleutians. Nimitz dispatched one third of his fleet to go north under the command of Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald and join forces with Major General Simon T. Buckner Jr. ground forces commander of the Alaska Defense C...
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...e expanded to become a formidable and well equipped fighting force in the north. With multiple established cold weather schools and testing facilities, Alaskan war fighters are the most prepared cold weather fighting force in the world. Additionally, military aircraft are far better equipped for flight into adverse weather today.
Columbia University, http://afe.easia.columbia.edu. 2009. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1900_power.htm.
Garfield, Brian. The 1000 Mile War: World War 2 in the Aleutians. Garden City, New York: Double Day, 1969.
MacGarragle, George. "The Aleutians." U.S. Army Center for Military History. (2003). http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/aleut/aleut.htm
"National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition." National Geographic. (1981). http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/united-states/alaska-facts.
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