This page updated 2008 February 23

History of Chiniak Chiniak map Navy DF Coast Guard DF WW II Radar Tower WW II Command Bunker Air Force Tracking Station Home Page

Kodiak Alaska Military History

Chiniak Tour March 21, 1998

Introduction

Chiniak History based on the borough comprehensive plan.

Click on a picture to see the full 640 x 480 version. The sun was from the South for all of these pictures. The shadow angles will help the viewer determine direction of view. Photos by Curt Law, AL7LQ. Text and web page design by Joe Stevens (The guy getting in some of the pictures...) Comments from others are at the bottom of the page.

In 1962 Pete Azzole took some pictures of the area too.

The pictures


1 - The USCG recently installed a differential GPS transmitter just beside the Miller Field runway. The runway condition is severely potholed and some of the rusty Marston matting has been partially removed. It is NOT suitable for landing an airplane.

Don Parker: -- The Chiniak DGPS is on 313.0 Khz, with data at 100 baud.

Pete Azzole: -- When I was there, Miller Field was merely steel matting. I don't recall finding any structures or remnants thereof in the immediate vacinity of the field. The Army quonset community in the trees shown on my homepage was nearby though. In fact, I never knew it was called "Miller Field" -- I assume we are talking about the same place; it was near our site, maybe 1-2 miles toward the Naval Station.

2 - Looking north from the DGPS transmitter, you can just make out the WW2 gun emplacement bunker on top of the hill in the distance across the lagoon.

Pete Azzole: -- This appears to be the gun emplacement I show in my homepage; the one with the underground command center. [Note: it was just for ammunition storage.]


3 - This building is locally known as "Little Navy". This view is looking at the back side (sunny side). The concrete portion on the right has been severely damaged on the corner. Two more views below show this same concrete room. There are six pairs of holes through the wall near the ceiling. They look like parallel transmission line entrance holes.

Pete Azzole: -- This appears to be the engineering/generator/garage building which was located in back of the main site building. The site shot on my home page (with imminent hail storm) is the "front" -- a small part of this building is just barely visible. You asked about size of the power panel: we had quite a bit of electronic equipment down in the d/f shack (#7-8), plus we had HF CW transmitters we used as communications backup to the landline links. Additionally, one end of the barracks building was an operations area which had a fair amount of communications equipment too.

Note: -- By the time Pete was there, the WACS was operational. After the Navy left, the Air Force ran a power line to this site and used the buildings for barracks.

4 - The electrical panels in the building suggest quite a lot of power consumption. There are three engine generator exhaust ports from the building. The west end of the building has been demolished, apparently by materials scavengers. These power panels were certainly upgraded several times over the lifetime of this building.
5 - The inside of the concrete room showing the parallel holes. Best guess is they were for parallel feedlines to antennas.
6 - View of the east end of the building showing the outside of the concrete room. The wood portion of the building is covered with green painted cedar shakes just like the building below.
7 - About a half mile south of the above building. The remaining wood is charred suggesting that this building burned down.

Pete Azzole: -- This is the remains of the "D/F shack" where the direction finding equipment was located.

Chuck Mackey: -- Fred Zharoff taught school in this building. It was windowless and I installed a window for them.

Thomas L. Lyon: -- The first year it was used for [a school was] 1967-68.

8 - There is a remnant of what might be an entrance porch on the right side.
8B - This photo of the DF shack was taken circa 1960. Joe Stevens has the 4 by 5 negative.
9 - Just to the west of the building there is this concrete hole in the ground. There is some resemblance to a well, but there are remains of copper parts inside.

Lloyd Johnson: -- This is the foundation for the HF DF (HuffDuff) that I operated in 1945.

10 - Joe Stevens acting like he knows what he is doing.
11 - Just about a quarter of a mile north of the main Navy building, at the crossroads, there is a very small log cabin. The south end has been extended with frame construction.

Pete Azzole: -- Based on your location description, I'm not sure this existed when I was there. I remember a very small cabin which was an escape used by the XO and CO of the Naval Station, but I think it was further away from our site and I'm not sure it was log cabin construction, rather frame/clapboard.
Richard Kivi: --That's not the CWO's hideaway. It is an abandoned cabin. We used it one summer to board horses and one of the guys kept his pet raven there. We also used it to dress out some deer we shot that had wondered onto the antenna fields. . . which were also used by a local rancher to graze cattle. [18 July 2007]

12 - Some lower logs have rotted and caused severe settling, but the roof is intact.
13 - Building No. 4 is largely intact with two water pumps inside. This building is located across the main road from at the turnoff down to the big log cabin by the lagoon. Like the main building, this one is covered by green painted cedar shakes.

Pete Azzole: -- I believe this is a fire pumping station that was located near the barracks building. (1960)

Lloyd Johnson: -- This was the main water supply in 1945.

14 - The window glass is missing and the door is gone, all the copper wire has been stripped except for the motor windings. A stream of water is flowing out of the doorway by itself on this day, but it has rained for the last 45 days steadily.
15 - This and subsequent pictures are of the big log house near the lagoon. This is a short drive from the main road and it is not visible from the main road.

Pete Azzole: -- This is the log cabin we all built during my tour as an escape from the barracks environment. (See my homepage) The sounds from the "bar" and combined purpose rec room/mess deck (shown in my homepage) in the barracks carried all too well topside where we slept and especially down the hall where the OIC and Asst. OIC rooms were located. We ran basic power and water to the cabin; had hardly any furniture; we took sleeping bags over there to crash onto. We had a refrigerator, a record player, a soda fountain/ice cream freezer, austere "kitchen" and burned wood to keep warm. The cabin was located a short walk uphill from the lake, which would freeze over and make some great skating.

Ted Nelson: -- My daughter was married in this cabin in May 1973.

16 - Some of the wall has been vandalized but much of the interior is still in place.
17 - The roof is partially missing and the logs are severly waterlogged. See comments below from Richard Loden.
18 - Just behind the log house there are the remains of a generator set.

Pete Azzole: -- The generator must be a subsequent settler's doing.

Note: -- According to several people who worked at the Air Force station, they took over the maintenance of the log house after the Navy left in the summer of 1966 and made substantial improvements including central heat.

19 - 1962 Chiniak US Air Force Tracking Station. Photo by Pete Azzole. View from the WW2 SCR-296 radar site on Round Top.

20 - 1998 Chiniak US Air Force Tracking Station. Photo by Joe Stevens. View from the WW2 SCR-296 radar site on Round Top.

21 - Telephoto from St. Peters head gun emplacement, looking over DGPS site and Miller Field, showing AF Tracking Station on the horizon left of center. Taken July 1998.

22 - Navy main building circa 1960. Negative from my collection. Different print from same negative as below.

23 - Navy main building circa 1960. Negative from my collection.

24 - On the way to Chiniak from Kodiak, you have to go over this piece of road, the Kalsin Bay Hill. Since this photo was taken in the mid 1980's it has been widened.

25 - The Kalsin Bay Hill was widened in 1997.

Situation

The entire Cape Chiniak area is owned by Lesinoi Incorporated, PO box 1186, Kodiak, Alaska 99615, tel 907-486-8191. Access is via a "land use permit" available from their Kodiak office at 424 Marine Way or at Cy's Sporting Goods. Although Miller Field is only 14.5 air miles from the Kodiak post office, it is 42 road miles from downtown Kodiak by mostly gravel road. Some trails to the WWII areas require four-wheel-drive or a hike.

Cape Chiniak was named "Cape Greville" in 1778 by Capt. Cook. Chiniak is an Alutiiq name first reported in 1888 by Lt. Comdr. Tanner, USN, of the steamer Albatross. Present day naming has the two easternmost points of Kodiak Island named Cape Chiniak for the major point and Cape Greville for a minor point two miles south.

Comments

From: WakiWhut (at) aol.com
To: petej (at) gate.net
Subject: Cape Chiniak Memories
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 19:13:20 EDT

Pete, I was stationed at the Cape 12/64-12/65 it was my first duty station
after "A" school and it almost spoiled me. I thought all duty stations would
be like it.  Boy was I in for a big suprise. After looking through the photos
you took, I started remembering some of the folks that were at the Cape when I
was -- I'm sending a list of the ones I can remember.
OIC LT Koch
OIC LTCDR McKinney
AOIC LTJG Roberts
AOIC Kochenauer
CTRCS Johnson
CTRCS Mackie
CTAC Rust
CTMC Bombeck
SKC White
CTO1 Williams
CTR1 Geddes
CTR1 East
CTR1 Harms
CTR1 Harshbarger
SK1 Oscar (don't remember his last name)
EN1 Root
EN2 Harper
HM2 Romine
CS2 Street
CS2 Al  (don't remember his last name)
CTM2 Drinkwater
CTR2 Baudendistol (B-Garble)
CTR2 Gibson
CTR2 "Pete"  (The Dog)
CTR2 Peyton
CTR2 Sutlick (Al who sent some info)
CTR2 Tennant
CTM3 Geckle
CTM3 Ghouly
CTM3 Laskey
CTM3 Shaulis
CTR3 Dufrene
CTR3 Erickson
CTR3 Goode
CTR3 Lawrence
CTR3 McCritis
CTR3 Morgan
CTSN Barrett
CTRSN Darsey (Me !)
CTRSN Elliot
CTRSN Gross
CTRSN Guy
CTRSN Hauser (Sleeper)
CTRSN Hennesey
CTRSN Mozell
CTRSN Schlect (Sis)
CTRSN Waters
CTRSN Weeks
CTRSN White
SN Lamont
SN Malloy
And Three other SN's that I can't remember the names of

I'm sure there are names that I have forgot, but I hope this will add a little
"personality" to the memories of the Cape.

Rick Darsey USN Ret.



[Note: This was received before photos 22 & 23 were posted.]

Pete Azzole: -- petej (at) gate.net -- there's not one picture of the 'real' main building which is the two-story building shown in my homepage. What you show is the garage/generator building. Based on your description that the d/f shack was burned down, my guess is that for security reasons, they burned down both those buildings before turning the property over. That would have been a prudent action given that paper has a way of slipping through cracks and finding its way into places you don't suspect over the course of time and the risk of someone finding any of that stuff as they rummaged and dismantled the place would be too great. You should have at least found the foundation for the barracks/ops building though; it was longer than the generator/garage building. It was just a stones throw from the beach, as can be seen from the shot taken out of my topside bedroom window toward the beach (see homepage) and only about 20-30 yards from and parallel to the generator/garage building. In fact, it would have been adjacent to the opposite side of the building shown in Photo #3.

Pete Azzole: -- There was a AN/GRD-6 U-Adcock array of D/F antennas.


Joe Stevens: In our 1998 tour, we could find no remains whatsoever of the main building shown in photos 22 & 23. No foundation, nothing.

On a later trip in November 1998, we found several holes dug in the vicinity of the main building mentioned above. All the alders and undergrowth had been removed and still there was no indication there had ever been a building there.


Al Sutlick: -- eu635csi (at) adnc.com --

I believe photos 13 & 14 might be the old pump house down the hill from the barracks building, and a bit above the lake. I recall that anytime we had fire drills, we could remotely start the diesel driving the pump(s), by way of a plunger-type switch, just inside the door of either of the two hose sheds. You could hear the diesel kick in, down the hill. One of the enginemen then had to hop in one of the trucks and make it down to the pump house as quickly as possible, in order to open the door so that fresh air could get to the air intake on the engine. The more I look at those two photos, the shed actually looks too small to house a diesel, in addition to the two pumps in there.

While I was there at Chiniak, I recall how the water level in the lake went down, due to beach erosion over an extended period of time, after the big earthquake. The water level dropped down enough to where mud was being sucked into the intake of the line providing water for the pump hose.

When we had fire drills, they used to like to make it realistic, by building a small bonfire in the driveway out in front of the main building (the side overlooking the lake). I was the nozzle man on the hose in the shed in front of the building. When I cracked the valve open, water barely made it out of the nozzle; it only reached out about ten feet, and fell a few feet short of reaching the fire! It was at this time that we realized we had debris in the intake line from the lake.

The Seabees came out from the main naval station and used explosives to take down a side of a hill overlooking the lake. The soil, along with boulders, was hauled over to the section of beach that had eroded, allowing lake water to flow into the ocean. After a bit of difficulty, they stopped the flow from the lake. Over a relatively short period of time, the water level in the lake rose to normal.

After all these years, I can't recall if the beach repair was undertaken as the result of just observing the lake water level had gone down, or as a result of knowing that mud was already in the line feeding the pump house.

Anyway, even with the lake's water level restored, we weren't getting enough water through the line, to the hoses. As I had two complete sets of SCUBA gear up there with me, the OIC asked one of the enginemen if I would assist the enginemen in conducting an inspection of the intake to the line. We did, and found it clogged with dirt and other debris. We removed the filter screen, after which the fire truck from the Air Force tracking station came down and reverse-flushed the line. I don't recall if they hooked up at one of the hose sheds, or down at the pump house itself. Regardless, it did the trick. When the engineman and I tested the hose in the shed in front of the main building, the water pressure dug a deep hole in the ground! Talk about water pressure!

Cheers,

Al


Al Sutlick: -- eu635csi (at) adnc.com --

Just a quick comment concerning the photos covering the HFDF site at Cape Chiniak. In regards to notes for photo #18: The Naval Security Group left Chiniak the summer of '66, not in '64 as stated. It was either June or July that HFDF operations ceased completely, and the last segment of us HFDF operators were either transfered out-of-state, or to our new AK site at Elmendorf AFB, where we were a tenant on the AFB. I was in that last group of HFDF operators to depart Chiniak. I chose to relocate to Elmendorf.

When I arrived at Chiniak for a year's tour of duty, the latter part of '64, I already knew that it was planned to close the site and relocate to Elmendorf AFB. As I truly enjoyed the AK experience, I put in for - and received - a year's extension at Chiniak, just so I could make the move to Elmendorf. As it was, I spent roughly 18 months at Chiniak. Upon relocating to Elmendorf the summer of '66, I initially thought I would be able to start a new tour of duty in AK, which was now set at 3 years. But it wasn't to be; they took my 18 months at Chiniak and counted it towards my 3 years total in AK.

Cheers,

Al


Ted Nelson: -- kl7jbt (at) juno.com --

the #15,16,17 and I believe18 pictures of the large log building overlooking the lagoon at Little Navy was the Navy Recreational Hall where ther used to be cook outs and parties. Our daughter Beth was married to Rob Missal in that building in May of 1973. I first saw the building in February of 1974 and it was in first class shape then. Rob Missal was working for Philco Ford at the tracking station during that time. He told me that the guys from up on the hill at the radar site used the building for parties and it was kept in pretty good shape. It went down hill fast after it was given away as did everything else out there.


From: ro496molod (at) webtv.net (Richard Loden)
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 18:39:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Cape chiniak photos etc

Really enjoy your site on Kodiak and Chiniak . Was quite interested in "Pete Azzoles" cabin. As the architect, head logger,and chief carpenter on that cabin, I think that probably "fisherman Azzole" was one of the least contributing crew members to that project. Funny how I remember constructing that thing right from falling the trees right through the opening party as a blast since none of us were loggers, builders, bricklayers or construction types. And to see it still semi standing is something. R Loden OIC Cape Chiniak 61-62 now LCDR USN Ret. Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 21:13:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Cape chiniak photos etc

Boy thats a quick turnaround. Surprised you havent had more hits from Chiniakers on your site. The name of the facility was U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Cape Chiniak. It was a seperate part of Naval Communications Station Kodiak which was at the main base. Chiniak was a 40 man base under an OIC. We operated a direction finding station as a part of a net surrounding the Pacific. The tour of duty there was one year and I think most of us really loved it. We all loved especially time spent with "Jake" the trapper who lived a few miles toward the main base from us. He visited us frequently since we had good food and great cooks. On those times when I was invited to dinner at the Commsta C.O.s house I always brought Jake he was the life of the party and a Kodiak legend. Those of us who he invited for breakfast at his cabin had a real sourdough biscuit treat. We tried very hard to not notice his hands that he kneeded the dough with since they were generally dripping salmon guts,dog hair,and probably even more exotic stuff. While I was there I operated KL7CYU.the base ham station . Lots of "outside"phone patches. Gave up my license after I retired in 1971. Again really pleased to hear from you and the update. Often wish I could hop up there and see the place again but Im sure Id be dissapointed since it was so pristine and beautiful then. 73s Dick Loden

More on the US Naval Security Group and NSGA Cape Chiniak.

Kalsin Hill

Photo circa 1985 Photo circa 1998 Photo circa 1998

click on thumbnail for larger version

Al Sutlick: -- eu635csi (at) adnc.com --

The mere mention of the Kalsin Bay hill brings back memories of one of the more exciting incidents I experienced, while stationed at Chiniak.

You'll no doubt recall Pete, how we used to send one of the 6-passenger Dodge Power Wagons daily into the Kodiak naval station, to deliver outgoing mail, pick up incoming mail, and any items that they guys might want from the NEX, and also a few 16mm movies for viewing in the rec room.

Once a week (I don't recall the normal day), we would send the 2-1/2 ton stake truck in to the naval station for stores. This consisted of all of our foodstuffs, frozen or otherwise, beer, soda and anything else required.

While there were many of us with government drivers licenses for driving automobiles and pickup trucks, there were only a few of us whose licenses were endorsed for driving the 2-1/2 ton stake truck. I was one of them.

The stake truck we had, was no doubt the same one that was there during your stay, Pete. It was a '50s vintage GMC as I recall (later replaced with a new Chebby of the same capacity), the model that had the sort of rounded hood in front. It was a piece of junk, which might have been partly responsible for its replacement, soon after the "Kalsin Bay hill incident!"

Johnny Harper, one of our enginemen, and I, were returning from the naval station with a full load, with me driving. As we started down the Kalsin Bay hill, everything appeared normal. Somewhere around halfway down, the engine suddenly died. With it, went the vacuum assisted brakes and steering. Fortunately, the road is relatively straight. Other than encountering a vehicle heading up the hill towards us, my main concern was obviously to keep the truck on the road, and not go over the side. I told Johnny that should speed build up, I thought it would be best for him to bail out his side of the truck (unless he wanted to ride it out with me), after which I was going to sideswipe the embankment on the right, to scrub off speed, and hopefully come to a stop. Johnny said he'd ride it out with me. We didn't encounter any vehicles heading uphill, and we didn't build up much speed going down, as I was in a low gear to begin with. We got to the bottom of the hill, and surveyed the situation.

I seem to recall that we may have had either a radiator hose that burst near a hose clamp, or the cooling system (no overflow recovery tank in those days) was just low on coolant, causing the engine to slightly overheat and stall out. Anyway, a guy that lived in a nearby cabin on the flats, came over to see what was going on. He went back to his cabin, and returned with a plastic bowl for getting water from the nearby creek, to the truck's radiator.

We then made it back to Chiniak without further incident. I always wonder what might have been, had we had to have taken some drastic action, coming down the hill.

More later.

Al


As a USCG Radio and HFDF operator, I spent a winter at the Cape from 1945 until May 1946. Although things have changed a lot, I recognized many things in the pictures on your Web Pages. The sleeping quarters and kitchen facilities in the interior of the Main Building was not completed when I was there. We bunked in Quonset huts located on the side of the hill across the "Draw" northeast of the Main Building, and a large barracks building located down the hill in front of the Main Building housed the kitchen facilities, mess hall, and recreation area. The room in the Main Building where the "Power Panels" were located originally housed three "Hill" diesel gererators which explains the three exhaust ports in the wall. These were small units (10 KW) and would not singularly supply the station power requirements. We were never able to successfully parallel them so they would share the load, so we replaced them with two Caterpillar diesel generators (50 KW each) which we installed in the garage of the Main Building. We dragged the Hill Units out and left in the bushes to the right and in front of the Main Building. I'm a Ham Operator (WU9J) and about 1962 or 1963 I hooked up with a Navy Ham Operator at Cape Chiniak on the ham band and he told me that those Hill units were still there where we left them. Well, so much for the Chiniak stories. Any one who served there, I'm sure has a lot of fond memories. I'm really wondering if I will recognize the place if I am able to get out there. Again, I must tell you how thrilled I was to find your Web Pages about Chiniak. Thanks a Million Lloyd L. Johnson, lloydl (at) charter.net

June 14, 1998 visit by Lloyd Johnson

The group: Lloyd Johnson WU9J, Helen Johnson, Ed Johnson, Joe Stevens WL7AML, Curt Law AL7LQ, Daryl Lewis.
The place: Cape Chiniak, Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Lloyd and his family were visiting from their home near St. Louis.

WU9J
LLOYD L JOHNSON
4129 BRADEN ST
GRANITE CITY IL 62040 USA
lloydl (at) charter.net

Lloyd had been stationed at Chiniak with the US Coast Guard from August 1945 until May 1946. He described the facility as a direction finding station. They also operated a CW communications net with other stations in the DF net as well as a few others.

Callsigns in the area and in the HF net in 1945 were:
NNA, the westernmost station in the DF net;
NNB-NNE (the stations west of Kodiak were at Dutch Harbor, Adak, and others)
NNF Cape Chiniak
NNG Middleton Island
NNH Biorka Island, Sitka
NHB Navy Base Kodiak
WXR Army Base Kodiak
NMJ Coast Guard District 17 HQ Ketchikan
NRFO USCGC Onondaga

Huff Duff or H.F. D.F. (High Frequency Direction Finder)


June 14, 1998 visit by Lloyd Johnson

This foundation was identified on this trip. There was a square concrete pit with a concrete bridge over it. The ground ring was still in place. There were bits of the ground radial wires still attached to the disk. There were porcelain feed-thru insulators in the concrete box for each ground radial wire. There was one straight section of concrete wall foundation suggesting you could have looked under the building from three sides when it was intact. We found no evidence of wood remnants. This pit is just across the roadway (really two tire tracks in the grass) from the newer foundation of another burned building. Lloyd said the other building did not exist in 1946.

The station used a DAB receiver mounted on a rotating arm with two triangular loops. This arm was rotated manually and two horizontal lines on a three inch oscilloscope met in the center of the scope. The left and right half of the lines moving up and down as the antenna was rotated. Slip rings below the floor carried power and ground to the rotating asembly. The building was constructed with mortise and tenon joints using no metalic fasteners. You could look under the building and see a central ground ring with ground radial wires every two or three degrees.

The station had a crew of about 21 people. The winter of 45-46 the snow got to ten feet deep in places. This made it impossible to get to Kodiak for supplies. They used a bulldozer to open enough road to get to a pier where they met a boat from Kodiak. On one occasion a group from a Loran station visited. Lloyd didn't know where the Loran station was located and gussed they had a crew of three. They were visiting during the snow to borrow supplies.

Occasionally a message was received to monitor a certain frequency for a Russian signal. It might take one or two weeks before they would hear the signal. They would then DF it and send their report. They used CW in the clear for their net.

Lloyd said they closed the facility in May 1946 and turned it over to the Navy. In our searches of the area, the one concrete DF foundation was the only evidence that Lloyd could recognize. We searched for the Quonset huts they used as barracks but could only generally locate the vicinity. There were no Quonset remnants found. (Note: The Corps of Engineers did a very thorough "cleanup" of the area a few years ago.) Lloyd said the main operations building was a two-story building that was not complete. This appears to be the same two-story building described and photographed in 1960 by Pete Azzole. There was no evidence whatsoever found of this building.

Low Frequency D.F. Site


June 14, 1998 visit by Lloyd Johnson

Some distance from their HF DF site Lloyd said there was a LF DF. We couldn't find any evidence of this site and Lloyd couldn't provide any location assistance.

Army and misc. sites June 14, 1998

One of the Army searchlight bunkers still has a door in place, closed, and fairly intact. There is enough for data to make a replica of the door. Another searchlight bunker has an intact telephone terminal with two-pair lead sheathed cable in place. There is a short wood pole with remains of an antenna coupling unit located in the trees and not near anything else. There is a bronze survey marker "NASA GSFC GREENBELT MD CH1 1994".

Footnotes

The matting on Miller Field runs with the long way of the mat running the long way of the runway. According to sources this is the wrong way to lay it but they had most of it in place before it was discovered that it was wrong. There is still about half of the matting in place, but a lot of it is buried under vegetation and a thin layer of soil and therefore invisable. From the main road to the DGPS site a path down the center has been cleared of matting.

According to a note on page 90 of the book The Forgotten War Volume Four by Stan Cohen, Marston matting is named for the town in North Carolina in which the product was manufactured. According to Alaska Geographic Vol 22, No 4, p12, it was first tried out near Marston NC in November 1941. Each section weighed a bit more than 66 pounds and was 10 feet by 15 inches.


END