Amchitka Alaska Historical Events Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Amchitka, Alaska Historical Events and Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate

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Amchitka, Alaska Historical Events

By 1949-'50, the Air Force presence on Amchitka had been reduced from about 500 (with a captain in charge of the island), to a mere 40 men, with a staff sergeant in charge! At that time, everything had been relocated to the Birchwood hangar. This included the limited communications-crypto center, the kitchen and mess hall, a small PX and post office, offices, and sleeping quarters. Only a handful of civilians remained to run the water, electrical, and sewage plants. Amchitka was very different from Adak in that the latter was very mountainous while all but the far northwestern tip of Amchitka was quite flat.
Submitted by Jerry

1947-48 Toward the end of World War II, Amchitka had been developed as the jumping-off location for the bombardment and invasion of the northern islands of Japan (the Kuriles). Toward this end, Amchitka had three runways: "Fox," the shortest, was closest to the island's harbor, and was used by fighters. The other two, "Charlie" and "Baker" were much longer. In fact, I think it was "Charlie" that was 10,000 feet long, making it the world's longest runway for its time. This was built so B-29s could strike Japan. In addition, much of the south-eastern half of the island was covered with buildings to house an entire infantry division (about 13,000 men) who would invade the northern islands of the Japanese Empire. Gravel roads went every which direction, and Quonset huts as well as vertical- sided buildings were laid out by the hundreds. A huge ammo dump was situated some miles from the large "Birchwood" hangar, situated alongside the "Charlie" runway. Stored at this dump was every type of ammunition, from .22 caliber to 8" shells; as late as early 1948, most of this ammunition was still sitting in its cases. Airmen stationed on Amchitka during 1947-48 could help themselves to all variety of hand grenades, which they used as recreation in blowing up many of the old abandoned buildings.

Another diversion for some (during the '47-'48 period) was making "moonshine" from the hundreds of 55 gallon drums of antifreeze. As a matter of fact, the islands head cook had to be flown to Anchorage because of his advancing state of blindness due to his high intake of the "wrong" kind of alcohol. It was not uncommon to be in the Birch- wood hangar watching a movie when all of a sudden a loud "boom" would be heard, coming from somewhere out in the "boonies." We knew that someone's still had just exploded.

Amchitka was maintained as a military outpost during the postwar period for two purposes: to provide a radio range station and an alternate landing site for aircraft flying the "Chain," and as a weather monitoring site for Russian weather reports. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, a team of six radio operators sat at their consoles, listening to and recording the five number groups of Russian weather broadcasts. These were then forwarded somewhere for analysis, probably to Washington, eventually.
Submitted by Jerry

This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Amchitka and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.

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