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Kodiak Alaska Military History



The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum


Kodiak Alaska Military History
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PEOPLE | OTHER COASTAL DEFENSE BUNKERS | SHIPS | SHIPS, NOT KODIAK | OTHER LINKS | BOOKS | ACTIVITIES | INFO NEEDED

 

People

Other Coastal Defense Bunkers

Ships

USCG Bouy Tender Ironwood. Click on the picture for a web page about its history and decommissioning.
USCG Storis, WMEC38
The St. Mihiel (san mee YEL) ferried many troops to Kodiak during WWII. The USS St. Mihiel, AP-32, 8213 tons, named for a French town (about 150 miles east of Paris, 20 miles South of Verdun, in Meuse) involved in World War I, was one of the ships used to evacuate wounded from the battle of Attu. This is from page 78 of The Forgotten War Volume Four. According to an article by Charles Gum in Alaska Geographic, World War II in Alaska, Vol 22, No 4 page 48, the St. Mihiel was a World War I liberty ship converted into a troop carrier. Mr. Gum arrived in Kodiak on the ship September 16, 1941. Prior to WWII she was an Army ship. John R. Fahey was a radioman aboard her. More on Navsource.
US Navy Ship Kodiak LSM 161 wasn't named Kodiak until 1959. This picture was taken in the fifties and came from Tom V. (rogiv@ix.netcom.com). Click on the thumbnail for the full image (210,477 bytes). According to Jane's 1958-59 (page 407) this class displaced 743 tons beaching (1095 tons full load), 196.5 feet long at water line, 203.5 ft overall, 34.5 ft beam, 8.5 ft draft. They carried 2 - 40mm AA guns. Diesel 2 shafts, BHP 2800 = 12.5 knots. Complement 59. Could carry 5 medium tanks. More at Navsource.
Corky McFarland photo 1949 SANTIAGO Beached near the VFW in Monashka Bay in 1941 because the soft iron riveted hull started leaking. Was used as an oil lighter. Also see photo of this ship at a dock in Womens Bay circa 1940. A map showing this dock is on our maps page.
Catwalk leading to ALGONQUIN in Womens Bay, 27 Dec. 1940 NAS Kodiak (VFW collection) She was built in 1898 as a steam and sailing ship and converted during the war to navy ship YAG29. See page 248 Vol 2, The Forgotten War for more pictures. Algonquin (Cutter) - The former Coast Guard cutter Algonquin was chartered by Siems-Drake-Puget Sound and towed to Kodiak by the Patricia Foss following installation of a 1,200 kilowatt generator by the Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging Company serving as a generating plant there in connection with Air base construction. Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1940, H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest.
Hauling out YP-73 on seaplane ramp, Womens Bay, 10 April 1941 NAS Kodiak (VFW collection) YP-73 was grounded and lost at Kodiak 15 January 1945.
Shuttle boat at Long Island dock. (Dan Vesper photo)
SS Tanana, Womens Bay (VFW collection)
SS Mary D and SS Cordova, Womens Bay - 21 Nov 39 (VFW Collection)
USF&WS Eider, circa 1939 (Norman Sutliff collection)

Photo of typical Liberty Ship
courtesy of Project Liberty Ship
SS John W. Brown
The STAR of KODIAK (Originally the USNS ALBERT M. BOE, #248849, hull No. MC-3132) was the last one built in 1945. She was built on ways No. 10 at one of the shipyards, New England Shipbuilding Corp., South Portland Maine. The keel was laid on 11 July 1945. It was launched 26 September 1945 and delivered 30 October 1945. She is type Z-EC2-S-C5 which is a BOXED AIRCRAFT TRANSPORT. The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Laid up on 22 January 1954 in the Olympia National Defense Reserve Fleet in the Columbia River near Olympia, Washington. Sold 7 August 1964 to Zidell Explorations, Inc., Portland Oregon for $65,533 for non-transportation use. This ship was brought from Blaine, Washington in 1965 to serve as an Alaska Packers seafood processing plant after the 1964 tsunami washed out their shore-based plant. She is situated, firmly aground, next to the ferry dock in downtown Kodiak. On January 19, 1995, the Tyson Seafood Group bought her from All Alaskan Seafoods. She was originally named for Albert M. Boe (1916-1944), a merchant seaman killed in an explosion aboard "USAT FS-214" in 1944. Engine, (no longer aboard). List of Liberty Ships. [revised 27 Sep 2008]
Tug Commissioner and barge William Muller, 24 May 1940 higher resolution 258k
Photo from Harry A Isom USAT U.S. GRANT, 10,352 tons, made several trips including 1124 men on 3 September 1941. (USN AP-29)
USNS Frederick Funston, * ferried naval personnel and families to Kodiak. She was operated by the Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service, was built in 1942 at Tacoma, Washington, and is named in honor of Major General Frederick Funston, a medal of honor holder who served as a colonel in the Spanish-American War. A troop and dependent carrier, the Funston has a length of 492 feet, a beam of 70 feet, a weight of 11,969 gross tons, and a cruising speed of 16 1/2 knots. She is seen here in Seattle's Elliott Bay. Thanks to Judie Freeman for the photo and information. Also see Timothy Smith's page.
Chuck Roberts sailed on the USNS James O'Hara through Kodiak circa 1953.
USS Wright, AV-1, visited Kodiak July 9, 1938 and issued a postal cover.
USAT Brig. Gen. M.G. Zalinski at Army Dock Kodiak
Casco, Seaplane tender for Fleet Air Wing FOUR
Another FAW4 tender was USS Williamson
USS Namakagon AOG-53 a Patapsco class gasoline tanker was homeported at Kodiak between 1947 and 1953. more
Submarines Cusk, Rasher, Carbonero and Tunny in Kodiak 1958.
USS Cusk (SS 348) arrives in Kodiak 1958.
USS SPICA delivered Army personnel 6 July 1941
The SS YALE, a retired ocean liner, was used as a floating hotel in Kodiak for defense contractors during WWII. She was never a US Navy vessel. more more

There are many large anchors around town. They measure six feet and seven inches wide at the widest part of the flanks. The harbor department has placed some of them as decorative items. They may have been left when the Navy departed. Does anybody have the true story on these? Some of the inscriptions read:

1 43      BALDT-52       US NAVY      PSF
231       PSF            A4901        8-48
              231             5      5

Ships, general, not Kodiak

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Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

Recommended books and publications

These are just reviews.

THE FORGOTTEN WAR by Stan Cohen in FOUR volumes 1981 to present.
Vol 1: North Country Defenses 1867-1941, Northwest Staging Route, The Alaska Highway, The Canol Project, Lend-Lease to Russia, Transportation Systems, Towns and Airfields, North Country at War, Aleutian Islands Defenses, Dutch Harbor, Adak, Amchitka, The Navy at War, The Air Force at War, The Battle of Attu, The Kiska Occupation, Legacy of the War. Page 86 top is identified as Ft Greely Kodiak but it is actually the navy base with left-right flipped. Page 86 bottom is a good aerial view of the Kodiak navy base and army base in July 1941. INDEX
Vol 2: North Country at War, Canol Project, Russian Lend-Lease, Transportation System, Alaska National Guard, Excursion Inlet, Airfields, Dutch harbor, Attu, Kiska, Attu, Shemya, Legacy of the War. INDEX
Vol 3: North Country at War, Cold Bay, Dutch Harbor, Communities at War, Cold Weather Testing Facility & Ladd Field, Royal Canadian Air Force, Lend-Lease, 10th Emergency Rescue Boat Squadron, Naval Activity, Annette Island, Seward, Kodiak, Adak, Amchitka, A One Man Civilian Air Force, Kurile Islands Operation, Postal History, Legacy of War. INDEX
Vol 4: North Country at War, The Alaska Highway, The Canol Project, Transportation Systems, Communications & Russian Lend-Lease, Soldiers of the Mist - The Alaska Territorial Guard, Attu, Kiska, Additional Revised Printing Information & Photos, Legacy of the War. INDEX THIS IS A MUST-HAVE SET!


ALASKA'S HIDDEN WARS by Otis Hays, Jr. published 2004 by University of Alaska Press. Secret campaigns on the north Pacific rim. Signal intelligence, Tatsuguchi diary, propagnda leaflets, Soviet presence in the north Pacific, secret Nisei. Excellent bibliography and chapter notes. 19 illustrations, 182 pages, 6x9 inches. Mr. Hays served as an intelligence officer in Alaska during WWII and has written several other books.
THE LAST FLIGHT OF BOMBER 31 by Ralph Wetterhahn was published 2004. Harrowing tales of American and Japanese pilots who fought in World War II's arctic air campaign. The book was written because of the discovery of a navy PV-1 bomber crash site on Kamchatka. There is a Nova show about it too. However, the book gives an excellent overview of the entire campaign and quite a lot of detail about the navy fliers who flew from Attu after we took the island from the Japanese in 1943. Several Japanese who served on Attu, Kiska and Paramushiro were interviewed. 85 photographs, 4 maps, 357 pages, extensive appendices. Fantastic book.
The original book about WW2 in Alaska is THE THOUSAND MILE WAR by Brian Garfield, originally published in 1969. The book has several errors, probably due to more information coming to light lately. The revised 1995 edition printed by the University of Alaska Press has many revisions and new notes and is for sale at the Kodiak Military History Museum.
A much more recent book is Aleutian Headache by Bert Webber 1993. Inquires to the publisher: Webb Research Group, PO Box 314, Medford, Oregon 97501 USA. Cover price $13.95, 225 pages 8-1/2 x 5-1/2. Webber was stationed in Kodiak as a telephone technician and describes a little of his activities here. The majority of the book is about the Aleutian Campaign and is very well written. There are many photos and maps throughout the book. I give it a big thumbs up. It's available at Zenith Books.
Even newer than that, and with more local focus is ROAD SYSTEM GUIDE TO KODIAK ISLAND WORLD WAR II SITES by Loretta Stoltenberg, Alaska State Parks, Kodiak District Office, January 1997. Cover price $5.00, 8-1/2 x 11. 28 pages. The paper cover opens flat and is a 11 x 17 image of the Harbor Defenses of Kodiak Alaska as constructed drawing MASTER PLAN 1945. There are maps of most areas that show the 1945 structures with the 1997 roads and structures overlaid. It is a wonderful guide to almost everything you can see on the road system and a little bit beyond. It only has one paragraph with no pictures and no maps for the Chiniak area (listed under Off the Road). The photos are all scanned in fairly low resolution and the book has the look of desktop publishing, but the maps are really worthwhile. It sure puts a lot of information into a very handy book and gets another big thumbs up.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has been cleaning up WW2 sites in Kodiak for some time. They publish Fact Sheets that have some very very good highly detailed color maps as well as an occasional historic photo. They tend to get facts wrong when writing about the history of a site, but the maps make these flyers very worthwhile. Their contact point is Pat Roth, Engineering Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District; P.O. Box 898, Anchorage, AK 99506-0898; or call 907-753-2861. I have not been able to find these Fact Sheets on the web but the Kodiak Public Library has a small collection.
Wanda Marie Fields, NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Stories of Alaskan Pioneer Ranchers (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2000), 311 pp., cloth, $80.00 plus postage, ISBN 1-888125-44-6, order from the author, P.O. Box 25, Kodiak, AK 99615. Arriving on Kodiak Island as Baptist mission houseparents in 1949, the author and her husband soon turned to cattle ranching. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs, this is the story of traditional Western ranching adapted to a very non-traditional location. Chapter 9 covers the WW2 period. Most of the sources are interviews and other non-primary sources so all of the information may not be accurate. The book has hundreds of photos, many showing military facilities over the years.
While not particularly about Kodiak, a few others deserve mention. The Alaska Geographic issue WORLD WAR II IN ALASKA has a few Kodiak pictures and some stories. The Forgotten War Volumes 1-4 have some mention of Kodiak. Vol 4 has Kodiak appearing on 10 pages. Kodiak appears in the index of Vol 3 ten times.
THOSE NAVY GUYS AND THEIR PBYS by Elmer A. Freeman mentions Kodiak in the index about 26 times. There isn't coverage of any fixed facilities in Kodiak. My dad flew on PBY's during the war, so I found it interesting. It's a unique airplane. There are two links below to more PBY stuff. I've read and reread this book and it gets better every time.
WAR COMES TO ALASKA, THE DUTCH HARBOR ATTACK, June 3-4, 1942 by Norman Edward Rourke, Burd Street Press, PO Box 152, Shippensburg, PA 17257 USA, published 1997. This book contains information from Japanese sources too. There are copies of Japanese and American documents and maps. Good coverage about American POW's in Japan. Bibliography and index. 6 by 9 inches, 166 pages. The word Kodiak occcurs on 16 pages but mention is largely incidental.
ALASKA AT WAR edited by Fern Chandonnet. 455 pages 8.5 x 11. Papers from the Alaska at War Symposium, Anchorage, Alaska, November 11-13, 1993.
SOLDIERS OF THE MISTS Minutemen of the Alaska Frontier, bu C.A. Salisbury. 1992 Pictorial Histories Publishing, Missoula, Montana. The national guard of Alaska during WW II.
THE CAPTURE OF ATTU as told by the men who fought there. Originally published by Intelligence Section, Adak, Alaska 1943. Reprint foreword by Terrence Cole published 1984, 1985 ... by Alaska Northwest Publishing, Anchorage, Alaska. 80 pp. 8.5 x 11. There is a different printing available at the museum store.
NO TUMULT NO SHOUTING The Story of the PBY and Fleet Air Wing 4 by Lois and Don Thorburn (1945). "They fought weather; they fought terrain; and they fought the Japs." "... from the air look like particularly undesirable building sites on the windward side of a crater on the moon. There are paltry strips of beach where no self-respecting seal would think of spending a cheap vacation." Available used.
CULTURAL RESOURCE INVESTIGATION AT KISKA, LITTLE KISKA AND SEMISOPOCHNOI, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA. Charles M. Mobley & Associates, Anchorage, Alaska. 1996 contract for US Army Corps of Engineers. 107 figures, maps and tables describing Allied and Japanese evidence of WW II in the Aleutians. With bibliography. 116 pp. 8.5 x 11.

Non-fiction Non-Alaskan but significant

Voyage of the Forest Dream & Other Sea Adventures and Men of the Menkar U.S. Coast Guard World War II Naval Exploits by Captain Niels P. Thomsen,USCG (ret), ex mayor of Unalaska.
The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz 1956, 1984, 1997 The Lyons Press. A Pole, now living in England, escaped a Siberian labor camp in 1941 and walked to India, taking about a year. Siberia and Himalayas in winter and Gobi Desert in summer. Absolutely astounding. You simply must read this. Stephen Ambrose: "a book that I absolutely cannot put down until I've finished it and one that I can never forget."
We Die Alone by David Howarth 1955 Macmillan, 1999 The Lyons Press. A Norwegan, trained in England, returns to occupied Norway to organize the underground. All others in his group are caught and executed by the Germans immediately upon landing. While unable to walk because of frozen feet and holed up in a snow cave high in the mountains, he uses his dull pocketknife to amputate all his toes. One of the books on Stephen Ambrose's list mentioned above. (Ambrose also recommends Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier but I haven't a copy yet.)

Fiction

Dangerous Voyage (Original title: Williwaw) by Gore Vidal. 1946 by E.P.Dutton, 1953 by Signet. Love - Hate - A Storm at Sea in the Aleutians. Vidal's first novel written when he was 20 years old and stationed in the Aleutians. It's about a small military freighter carying an odd assortment of passengers and crew along the Aleutians where they encounter a Williwaw and almost lose the ship. The book really holds your attention.
THE CLOUD ATLAS by Liam Callanan. 2004 by Bantam Dell. "Drifting through the night, whisper-quiet, they were the most sublime manifestations of a desperate enemy: Japanese balloon bombs." I couldn't put it down. ...j0e
Please suggest additional book reviews for inclusion. Contact us.

Subjects and sites in the Kodiak area that we'd like to know more about

  • 1911 USN radio station on Wood Island
  • Kodiak Naval Station - always looking for more information
  • Old Womens Mountain - remains on top ? Tony Perez thinks a radar?
  • Womens Bay submarine base - nothing visible today.
  • Chiniak Loran A site - Soquel Point?
  • Sitkinak Island: AC&W, WACS, Loran, other?
  • Point Banks CAA site, Shuyak Island - one of the most scenic spots in the area
  • Radar site on Cliff Point
  • abandoned submarine cables - to Seward, Chiniak, Marmot. Some removed by Bob Allen.
  • Middle Bay false city - was lit up during air raids while Kodiak was darkened
  • Pillar Mt. guns and buildings - collapsed buildings evidence, unfinished Panama mounts.
  • Marmot Island WWII - we have no info
  • Anton Larsen Bay, why was the island off limits during WWII?
  • Port Lions ACS Comm station
  • Larsen Bay, AWS Station
  • Chirikof Is, Navy, north end
  • Soldier's Cove or Neva Cove, opposite Ouzinkie 9/17/05 FOUND MAP - WAS ANTIAIRCRAFT TRAINING CAMP
  • Saltery Cove Road: Jack Brisbane (ex SeaBee) said it was rebuilt in 1958 by the SeaBees as an exercise. We don't know why it was built in the first place.
  • Middleton Island: A bit off the Kodiak group, but there is an operating unattended FAA staion there with two radars, NDB, diesel power plant, etc. There is WWII history at Middleton.
  • Knute & Fred Solberg's Fox Farm, Miller Point

    Do you know about any of these? Any amount of information is welcome no matter how small. E-mail to


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