Sitka, Alaska, USA

Sitka, with a year round population of 8,900, is the only Inside Passage community that fronts the Pacific Ocean – it was originally a permanent settlement of Russians named Novoarkhan

Sitka, with a year round population of 8,900, is the only Inside Passage community that fronts the Pacific Ocean – it was originally a permanent settlement of Russians named Novoarkhangelsk, or New Archangel by Alexander Baranov, the governor of Russian America; Alaska, USA

 

Sitka is an Alaskan city and borough near Juneau, the state capital. With a population year round of 8,900, Sitka is spread over Baranof Island, part of Chichagof Island and others.  Sitka is the only Inside Passage community that fronts the Pacific Ocean, hugging Baranof Island’s west shore in the shadow of the impressive Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano with a graceful cone reminiscent of Japan’s Mount Fuji.  A unique blend of Russian and Tlingit culture, Sitka’s past remains a tangible part of its present.  Russian fur traders eventually overpowered the native Tlingits, establishing a permanent settlement named Novoarkhangelsk, or New Archangel by Alexander Baranov, the governor of Russian America.  Sitka eventually became the capital of a Russian fur trading empire stretching all the way to Fort Ross in Northern California.  Although most of the Russians returned to their homeland after the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867, their legacy remains visible in the restored Russian Bishop’s House and reconstructed St. Michael’s Cathedral.  In fact, the Russian Orthodox Church still has 89 active parishes in native villages throughout Alaska thanks to the foresight of Bishop Innocent Veniaminov who translated scriptures from Russian, allowing indigenous people to worship in their native language.  Sitka National Historical Park is the site of Russia’s defeat of the indigenous Tlingit people and has a trail dotted with totem poles.

 

Representing Russian influence in North America, the onion-domed St. Michael_s Orthodox Cathedral contains Russian Orthodox art and religious icons, and the walls are decorated with sa

Representing Russian influence in North America, the onion-domed St. Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral contains Russian Orthodox art and religious icons, and the walls are decorated with sail cloth in honor of those who perished at sea; it was constructed in the mid-19th century and then rebuilt in the 1960s following a massive fire; Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

Sitka Harbor with the mountains of Baranof Island in the background; the city has one of the largest “fleets” of watercraft (pleasure, fishing and commercial) of any city in Alaska

Sitka Harbor with the mountains of Baranof Island in the background; the city has one of the largest “fleets” of watercraft (pleasure, fishing and commercial) of any city in Alaska

 

Our ship is visible in the distance, anchored in Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA

Our ship is visible in the distance, anchored in Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA

 

A group of six of us chartered Captain Lucas_s expedition style catamaran from Allen Marine Tours for the morning and we toured Sitka Sound and the islands near Sitka, Alaska, USA

A group of six of us chartered Captain Lucas’s expedition style catamaran from Allen Marine Tours for the morning and we toured Sitka Sound and the islands near Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

Beautiful, long kelp on Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA

Beautiful, long kelp on Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA

 

A “raft” of sea otters, floating and swimming on their backs in Redoubt Bay, Sitka, Alaska, USA

A “raft” of sea otters, floating and swimming on their backs in Redoubt Bay, Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

This sea otter was oblivious to our boat and continued to relax as we approached, Redoubt Bay, Sitka, Alaska, USA

This sea otter was oblivious to our boat and continued to relax as we approached, Redoubt Bay, Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

The salmon were returning up river at this end of Deep Inlet off the Eastern Channel of Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA; this was after we saw a number of harbor seals in the inlet cavorting on

The salmon were returning up river to spawn at this end of Deep Inlet off the Eastern Channel of Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA; this was after we saw a number of harbor seals in the inlet cavorting on some rocks

 

Near the river_s entrance to the ocean, we spotted thousands of jellyfish, Sitka, Alaska, USA

Near the river’s entrance to the ocean, we spotted thousands of jellyfish, Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

Humpback whales were abundant in Sitka Sound – we watched about a dozen whales cavort and play and surface and dive for about a half-hour; Sitka, Alaska, USA

Humpback whales were abundant in Sitka Sound – we watched about a dozen whales cavort and play and surface and dive in a steady rain for about a half-hour; Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

The tail flukes on each humpback whale are unique (like a human_s fingerprints) and can be used to identify individual whales, Sitka, Alaska, USA

The tail flukes on each humpback whale are unique (like a human’s fingerprints) and can be used to identify individual whales, Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

On the way back from whale watching in Sitka Sound to Sitka, we stopped by this small rock, adjacent to a small island, to spot an American bald eagle (at the top of the larger tree, cen

On the way back from whale watching in Sitka Sound to Sitka, we stopped by this small rock, adjacent to a small island, to spot an American bald eagle (at the top of the larger tree, center); Alaska, USA

 

This eagle is keeping an eye out as her nest has two three-month old baby eagles who took their first flight in the past week, Sitka, Alaska, USA

This eagle is keeping an eye out as her nest has two three-month old baby eagles who took their first flight in the past week, Sitka, Alaska, USA

Nearby was the so-called “flower-pot” or “tea-pot” rock filled with local, natural foliage, Sitka, Alaska, USA

Nearby was the so-called “flower-pot” or “tea-pot” rock filled with local, natural foliage, Sitka, Alaska, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

Battery 402_s “command and base end station” was completed in January 1944 and remains intact, although the U.S. Army base was decommissioned after World War II, Fort Schwatka, Dut

Battery 402’s “command and base end station” was completed in January 1944 and remains intact, although the U.S. Army base was decommissioned after World War II, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA; the battery today is the “symbol” of the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area and Fort Schwatka

 

From the pier in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, a group of four of us climbed up the northeast side of Mount Ballyhoo on Ulatka Head Road to the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area – a 134 acre tract of land on Amaknak Island that houses the military ruins of Fort Schwatka, the highest coastal battery ever constructed in the United States.   Remnants of the military occupation are present all over the island, including on top of Mount Ballyhoo, the location of Fort Schwatka.

At the Museum the day before we had picked up the self-guided tour booklet that explained the ruins of the fort and the few remaining buildings.  When we got to the top, the guide booklet informed us: “Before you lies the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area and the historic footprint of the U.S. Army base Fort Schwatka and Battery 402.  At 897 feet above sea level the fort is the highest coastal battery constructed along the coast of the Untied States.  The fort was constructed in 1940 to protect the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base from a seaborne invasion fleet.  The June 1942 attack on Dutch Harbor prompted an upgrade of the fort that was completed in early 1944.  At full development Fort Schwatka had over 100 structures supporting the soldiers of the two coast artillery units that manned the cannons and antiaircraft guns.  Barracks, storehouses, a recreation center, officers club, Quonset huts, latrines, administration, and support buildings all served the needs of an estimated 250 soldiers stationed on this lonely mountain…  Engineers designed the structures here to withstand bomb blasts, earthquakes, and gale force winds.  Today, many of the [mostly wooden] structures of Fort Schwatka have collapsed, but the gun mounts and lookouts are among the most intact in the entire United States.”

 

Our hike up the mountain to Fort Schwatka and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, took us past the main peak of mount Ballyhoo

Our hike up the mountain to Fort Schwatka and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, took us past the main peak of mount Ballyhoo

 

Wild flowers were rampant across the hillside and all across the fort grounds and the military ruins at Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

Wild flowers were rampant across the hillside and all across the fort grounds and the military ruins at Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

 

As we walked around the ruins and inside the completely intact, concrete magazine complex of Battery 402, we noticed the contrast between the wild flowers on the hillside and all across the fort grounds and the military ruins.  Having come of age during the Vietnam War, the Peter, Paul and Mary/Pete Seeger song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” came to mind.  We all hope that present and future conflicts can be settled through diplomacy, rather than war…

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

[sung by Peter, Paul & Mary; song written by Pete Seeger, Sanga Music Inc. –BMI]

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

The view of Mount Ballyhoo from inside the entrance to a munitions magazine known as an “elephant steel” shelter or Armco hut, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

The view of Mount Ballyhoo from inside the entrance to a munitions magazine known as an “elephant steel” shelter or Armco hut, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA; covered with dirt and turf, the cement and steel bunker was nearly invisible from the air, as it would have appeared to overflying Japanese aircraft as just another contour on the mountainside

 

Wildflower #2, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

Wildflower #2, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

 

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

The Battery Command and Base End Station [see the first photograph] as viewed today from the main grounds of Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

The Battery Command and Base End Station [see the first photograph] as viewed today from the main grounds of Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska; a state-of-the-art SRC 592 radar room provided the battery with target tracking information when visibility was poor due to weather or darkness

Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing?
Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago?
Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

Wildflower #3, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

Wildflower #3, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

 

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

The view of Mount Ballyhoo and the bay from the back “slit” in the upper level of the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

The view of Mount Ballyhoo and the bay from the back “slit” in the upper level of the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

Wildflower #4, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

Wildflower #4, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, USA

 

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

The circular concrete platform is a “barbette carriage” that is the mount for one of the two 8-inch guns of Battery 402 at Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

The circular concrete platform is a “barbette carriage” that is the mount for one of the two 8-inch guns of Battery 402 at Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska; the huge Mark VI, Mod 3A2 gun was 30 feet (9.1 meters) long and weighed 51.5 tons (46,720 kilograms) and could fire a 240-pound (109 kilogram) shell up to 22 miles (35.4 kilometers)

 

The view of Unalaska Island and the bay from the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

The view of Unalaska Island and the bay from the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

Some of the nearly vertical cliffs on the edge of Mount Ballyhoo at the end of Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

Some of the nearly vertical cliffs on the edge of Mount Ballyhoo at the end of Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

The view from the opposite side of the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, where there was another 8-inch gun (only the mount remains today), Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unal

The view from the opposite side of the hillside Battery Command and Base End Station, where there was another 8-inch gun (only the mount remains today), Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

Wildflowers in front of the entrance to the magazine complex of Battery 402 – the large concrete structure (with a sod over the roof) held the ammunition needed for immediate response

Wildflowers in front of the entrance to the magazine complex of Battery 402 – the large concrete structure (with a sod over the roof) held the ammunition needed for immediate response by the adjacent 8-inch guns, Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

 

A view of our ship at the pier in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, and the main part of the town of Unalaska (across the bay from Dutch Harbor), taken as we hiked down from Fort Schwatka

A view of our ship at the pier in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, and the main part of the town of Unalaska (across the bay from Dutch Harbor), taken as we hiked down from Fort Schwatka

 

The lower hillsides of Ulatka Head Road were covered with salmon berry bushes and ripe berries – these are favorites of Alaskan bears (and us); Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, A

The lower hillsides of Ulatka Head Road were covered with salmon berry bushes and ripe berries – these are favorites of Alaskan bears (and us); Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

We picked a baseball cap full of berries and enjoyed them with friends for dessert that evening in our apartment on the ship; Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

We picked a baseball cap full of berries and enjoyed them with friends for dessert that evening in our apartment on the ship; Fort Schwatka, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

A full-size model of an Unangan (Aleut) kayak with a modern replica of a paddle and hunting visor; the man is wearing a waterproof kamleika; Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amakna

A full-size model of an Unangan (Aleut) kayak with a modern replica of a paddle and hunting visor; the man is wearing a waterproof kamleika; Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

“The Museum of the Aleutians – in Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island (which has a automotible/truck/bus bridge to the main island of Unalaska), Alaska, USA – is a state-of-the-art cultural center of the Aleutian Islands and the Unalaska community.  The Museum opened its doors in 1999 with the mission to collect, preserve, and research the ethnography and history of the Aleutian Islands Region.  Through actively growing ethnographic, Russian/American, WW II, and artwork collections, the Museum provides stimulating permanent and changing exhibits, as well as a home to researchers and community events.

“The Aleutian Islands chain is made up of approximately 100 islands in a 1,250 mile range, separating the Bering Sea to the north and Pacfic Ocean to the south.  Volcanic, foggy, and windswept, these islands have been home to the Unangan (also known as Aleut) culture for thousands of years.  Given the harsh climatic condition of sea life, it is not surprising that the Unangan developed and shaped their culture to co-exist with the unique environment that defines the Aleutian Islands. Ioann Veniaminov (1797-1879), a Russian Orthodox priest and the Unangan’s first ethnographer, identified adaptability as one of the key cultural characteristics that enabled the Unangan people to develop and sustain a complex maritime lifestyle for at least 10,000 years.

“Academic research on the Aleutian Islands reaches back to the late 19th century, and prehistoric cultural development is continuously explored through anthropological studies and archaeological fieldwork to date.  Aleutian archaeologists have counted at least 25 known prehistoric village sites within a 2 mile (3.2 km) radius of the Dutch Harbor Airport, and there are doubtless many more sites waiting to be discovered and documented.  Chert and obsidian projectile points, worked and decorated bone root picks, ivory needles, and whale bone bowls are just a sampling of the artifacts from these archaeological excavations that are yours to view and enjoy at the Museum of the Aleutians.  By analyzing these objects, one can come closer to understanding how the Unangan people thrived in the Aleutians.

“The most important survival method for early Unangan culture was subsistence living — surviving off the land and natural environment — and consisted of understanding and utilizing every aspect of island topography.  Kayaks, called iqyaks or ikyaadak in Unangam Tunuu (the Aleut language), were commonly used for hunting marine mammals, such as seals, whales, and sea otters, in the dangerous open seas.  Ethnographic studies suggest that all parts of an animal were incorporated into daily life, as evidenced by the archaeological record as well as by the continuing oral tradition to this day. Gut parkas, or kamleikas, were made by sewing seal or sea lion intestine together, capitalizing on the material’s waterproofing and weather-protective capabilities.  Kamleikas are still made today, and examples of these are on permanent display in the Museum’s Special Collections Gallery.

“The adaptation of indigenous language, traditions and subsistence skills that are many centuries old are continued today through native culture camps, exhibitions, publications and research.  The Museum works with local artisans, scientists, anthropologists, and linguists to help preserve the time-honored skills and traditions of the Aleutians’ first inhabitants, as well as to keep abreast of the most current scientific research passing through our neighborhood.  The Museum also works closely in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Marine Advisory Program, helping to bridge the gap between scientific biological research and the local community by hosting the Forum of Alaska Marine Issues lecture series, which is open to the public.  It is through endeavors such as these that we can strive to better understand this exceptional part of the world.” – Unalaska International Port of Dutch Harbor Visitor & Relocation Guide

 

Kamleikas are outer garments made of sea mammal gut or esophagus – an exrtremely light, strong, and waterproof material that were sewn with grass or sinew threads that expanded when we

Kamleikas are outer garments made of sea mammal gut or esophagus – an extremely light, strong, and waterproof material that were sewn with grass or sinew threads that expanded when wet, making the garment waterproof, Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA; Aleut men, who used their kamleikas almost daily, needed about three new garments each year

 

A long visor Aleut bentwood hunting hat decorated with walrus ivory figurines, sea lion whiskers, glass beads and traditional Unangan decorations; created by Hugh Pelkey; Museum of the A

A long visor Aleut bentwood hunting hat decorated with walrus ivory figurines, sea lion whiskers, glass beads and traditional Unangan decorations; created by Hugh Pelkey; Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Aleut baskets- 12. geometrical design basket from Unalaska, 13. flower design basket from Unalaska, 14. red and black design basket from Atka; Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amak

Aleut baskets: 12. geometrical design basket from Unalaska, 13. flower design basket from Unalaska, 14. red and black design basket from Atka; Museum of the Aleutians, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

The Split Dock of Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, with the mountains of Unalaska Island in the background, across Iliuliuk Bay

The Split Dock of Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, with the mountains of Unalaska Island in the background, across Iliuliuk Bay

 

The port of Dutch Harbor, on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Chain – connected by a bridge to the much larger Unalaska Island — consistently ranks as the busiest fishing port in the United States of America.  For the last 30 years, Unalaska’s economy has been based primarily on commercial fishing, seafood processing, fleet services and marine transportation.  Annually, more than 1.7 billion pounds of frozen halibut, salmon and king crab is shipped to domestic and export markets in North America, Europe and Asia, making the Port of Dutch Harbor first in the nation in quantity of catch landed and first or second in the nation in the value of the catch for more than 20 years.  Fans of the Discovery Channel may be familiar with the area, highlighted on the popular series “Deadliest Catch.”  Naturally, sport fishing opportunities are plentiful.  Dutch Harbor is also known for being the only place on American soil other than Pearl Harbor to be bombed by the Japanese.  In June of 1942, two days of air attacks killed 43 American servicemen, but did very little long-term damage to the base.  We had the opportunity to visit the informative Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center, adjacent to the small airport on the island — for more details of the story see below.

 

From our mooring at the Kloosterboer Dock, this view looks northeast to the North Pacific Fuel Dock and the Trident Dock; the Ulatka Head Road zigs-zags up the hill around Mr. Ballyhoo

From our mooring at the Kloosterboer Dock, this view looks northeast to the North Pacific Fuel Dock and the Trident Dock; the Ulatka Head Road zigs-zags up the hill around Mr. Ballyhoo (named by Dashiell Hammett — of “The Maltese Falcon” fame — when he was stationed in Dutch Harbor during WW II) to the ruins of Fort Schwatka, the defensive WW II fort that guarded Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

A fisherman making repairs to the chains (hundreds of yards-meters long) used on his Pollock fishing boat to hold the large fish net; Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

A fisherman making repairs to the chains (hundreds of yards/meters long) used on his Pollock fishing boat to hold the large fish net; Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Where small towns in New England have “general stores” of a modest size, the Alaska Ship Supply store is a giant combination hardware store and grocery in Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Islan

Where small towns in New England have “general stores” of a modest size, the Alaska Ship Supply store is a giant combination hardware store and grocery in Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA; we bought completely waterproof pants (used by local fishermen) and some kayaking waterproof gloves to add to our foul weather gear on the ship for our expedition travel

 

The Alyeska Seafoods processing facility on Unalaska Island, across the bay from Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

The Alyeska Seafoods processing facility on Unalaska Island, across the bay from Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Homes on Haystack Hill in Unalaska, Unalaska Island, across the bay from Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

Homes on Haystack Hill in Unalaska, Unalaska Island, across the bay from Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

The Grand Aleutian Hotel in Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, where we had had piles of delicious king crab legs as part of a large Sunday buffet lunch at their Chart Room Resta

The Grand Aleutian Hotel in Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, where we had had piles of delicious king crab legs as part of a large Sunday buffet lunch at their Chart Room Restaurant

 

King crab legs on the Grand Aleutian Hotel_s Chart Room Restaurant_s Sunday buffet, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

King crab legs on the Grand Aleutian Hotel’s Chart Room Restaurant’s Sunday buffet, Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA

 

At the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitors Center we learned more about the so-called “Aleutian Campaign” of World War II (from 1942 to 1945). “The Aleutian Islands are the setting for a little known story of how America was forced into war to reclaim her own soil during World War II. As Japan expanded her empire across Asia and the Pacific in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the United States hastened to fortify the westernmost defenses of her territory, establishing naval bases and air stations in the Aleutian Islands [part of the Alaska Territory, bought from Russia on 30 March1867 in the so-called “Seward’s Folly” purchase]. Civilian and military crews poured in by the thousands to ready the nation for a war in the North Pacific.

“It came all too soon. In June of 1942, just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese bombed Unalaska, and seized the islands of Attu and Kista [the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands]. The Japanese troops numbered less than 10,000 men. Within little over a year the United States and her Canadian allies matched that number more than tenfold and defeated the Japanese.

“There were heavy losses on both sides. In the end, however, the weather emerged as the deadliest enemy. For the Alaska Natives in the Aleutians, the war changed their lives forever. Most of the Unangan (Aleut) were exiled thousands of miles from home in filthy disease-ridden camps; the Attuans were captured and transported to Japan. [The U.S. treatment of the Aleutians was similar to the internment of the Japanese during World War II – shameful acts that did not reflect the founding principles of America.] At the end of the war many Unangan found their homes and churches pillaged, their archaeological sites looted, their waters and lands contaminated, and whole islands appropriated as military reserves.

“Thus, [this] is a story of both noble and ignoble events; it is a tale of Americans at war thousands of miles from home and Americans in exile thousands of miles from home. This is the story of the ‘Aleutian Campaign.’” – exhibit signage at the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center

 

The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor_s Center (and museum), Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, is adjacent to the Dutch Harbor airport

The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center (and museum), Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA, is adjacent to the Dutch Harbor airport

 

“At Dutch Harbor, the captured [Japanese] Zero [fighter airplane] – see photograph, below — was turned upright by crane, then crated for shipment south. She arrived at North Island, Naval Air Station San Diego on 12 August 1942. The fighter was placed in a balloon hangar, secreted behind a 12-foot high stockade and guarded day and night. Crews worked 24 hours a day, repairing the vertical stabilizer, rudder, wing tips, flaps and canopy. [On] 25 September [1942], the Akutan Zero, the U.S. star now on her wings and fuselage, flied mock combat against the best aircraft in America. These tests affirmed that even the most advanced U.S. plane can not defeat the Zero in its own arena – the low-altitude, slow-speed, twisting dogfight. To survive such an attack, U.S. pilots must first flee – dive away in a near vertical descent, then roll hard right before the Zero can bring its cannon and machine guns to bear. Once disengaged, the battle must be pressed on at high speed — – in swooping attacks from high altitude. Only then can the Zero’s design faults, its inherent fragility, be exploited.’” – exhibit signage at the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center

 

“The Prize of the Aleutians” was found in Dutch Harbor -- a captured, downed Japanese Zero airplane that had been declared by the U.S. War Department (in the late 1930s) to be “…

“The Prize of the Aleutians” was found in Dutch Harbor — a captured, downed Japanese Zero airplane that had been declared by the U.S. War Department (in the late 1930s) to be “…an aerodynamic impossibility” but went on to fly circles around U.S. and allied aircraft in the early 1940s; Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Alaska, USA – photo courtesy Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center

 

Legal Notices: All photographs (except “The Prize of the Aleutians”) copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Delarof Harbor, Unga Island, Alaska, USA

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #1; the intrepid explorer and your blogger kayaking

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #1; the intrepid explorer and your blogger kayaking

 

Unga Island is an island in the Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, USA.  It is he largest of the Shumagin Islands off the Alaska Peninsula in southwestern Alaska.  The island has a land area of 171 square miles (443 square kilometers), making it the 35th largest island in the United States.  The island holds an ancient petrified wood forest and a more recent ghost town that was the site of a small gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  We took Zodiac boats from our ship anchored in Delarof Harbor to the pebble beach of the harbor, where a group of twelve of us embarked on a two-hour kayak paddle around the harbor and part of Unga Island.  The terrain was quite rugged, with tall cliffs, low rising hills and pounding surf; it is also treeless, except for a few trees around the village brought over by Norwegian settlers.  The island is another island home to thousands of seagulls and puffins and many sea otters in the kelp.

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #2

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #2

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #3; the arches at the end of the peninsula reminded us of Los Cabos, Mexico

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #3; the arches at the end of the peninsula reminded us of Los Cabos, Mexico

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #4

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #4

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #5

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #5

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #6

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #6

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #7

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #7

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #8

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #8

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #9

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #9

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #10

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #10

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #11

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #11

 

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA -- #12; the intrepid explorer and your blogger relaxing on the shore in front of part of the old ghost town, waiting for a Zodiac to return to o

Delarof Harbor, Unger Island, Alaska, USA — #12; the intrepid explorer and your blogger relaxing on the shore in front of part of the old ghost town, waiting for a Zodiac to return to our ship after kayaking

 

Legal Notices: All photographs (except the two photographs of the kayakers) copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #1

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #1

 

We anchored off Aghiyuk Island and took a tender ashore for a couple hours of hiking from the black rock beach up to a couple of saddles in the hills that gave us excellent views of the beach and cliffs on the opposite side of the island.  Aghiyuk Island is the northern most and largest of the Semidi Islands.   It has high dramatic rock formations and its gentler slopes are covered with ankle to mid-shin high vegetation.  The location is well known for its abundance of seabirds, marine mammals, and the marine resources upon which they rely.  The Semidi Islands are a group of islands of the state of Alaska, United States, lying offshore in the Gulf of Alaska.  The islands are part of Kodiak Island Borough and are located southwest of Kodiak Island, about halfway between the Alaska Peninsula mainland and Chirikof Island.

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #2

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #2

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #3

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #3

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #4

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #4

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #5

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #5

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #6

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #6

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #7

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #7

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #8

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #8

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #9

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #9

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #10

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #10

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #11

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #11

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #12

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #12

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #13

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #13

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #14

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #14

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #15

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #15

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #16

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #16

 

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA -- #17

Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Alaska, USA — #17

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Fishing on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

Boarding Captain Chris_s U-Rascal in Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

Boarding Captain Chris’s U-Rascal in Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Early on a rainy morning we chartered Captain Chris’s U-Rascal in Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA, for a day of sea fishing.  The eight of us caught quite a lot of fish (25 rockfish, 8 salmon, 11 halibut and a few other fish that we used for bait).  The crew cleaned all the fish and gave us quite a few bags of fillets that we brought back to the ship where the chefs in the seafood/steak restaurant prepared dinner for us and some friends for two evenings.  We (and another fisherman/chef) also kept some fillets in our refrigerator and freezer in our apartment for lunches and dinners that we will cook in our apartment’s kitchen for us and some friends.  Notwithstanding the stormy weather, it was a fun and fulfilling day at sea.  And the fish at our group dinners in the restaurant was fresh, well prepared and delicious!  A wonderful way to celebrate the success of our fishing.

 

Parts of Kodiak Island were barely visible in the fog, mist and rain; fishing on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

Parts of Kodiak Island were barely visible in the fog, mist and rain; fishing on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Another fishing ship (much larger) passed us as we were fishing on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

Another fishing ship (much larger) passed us as we were fishing on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

The intrepid explorer caught her first salmon of the day on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

The intrepid explorer caught her first salmon of the day on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

The intrepid explorer with her first salmon of the day on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

The intrepid explorer with her first salmon of the day on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

The intrepid explorer caught a large halibut on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

The intrepid explorer caught a large halibut on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

The intrepid explorer_s halibut on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska USA

The intrepid explorer’s halibut on U-Rascal from Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs (except the photograph of the intrepid explorer catching a salmon) copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.