Originally published 22 June 2001
Photo Courtesty of Hal Tenney


These pages present photos and stories supplied by those either stationed on or visiting Attu during the Post-WWII years. The WWII battle to wrest control of Attu from the Japanese occupiers began on 11 May, 1943, and ended with Attu subsequently being secured by the 30th of May, 1943. The Casco Cove Coast Guard Station, otherwise known as LORAN Station Attu, was established as a Naval Air Facility on 7 June 1943, seven days after Attu Island had been declared secured. The United States maintained a contingency of Coast Guard troops on the Island, whose primary responsibility was to maintain the LORAN-C navigational equipment, until Attu closed on 27 August 2010. The large encampment of allied military and other support personnel began to evacuate the Aleutian Islands after the "hot" war ended in 1945, leaving only a small contingency of troops behind to guard that for which a very high price had been paid in terms of human misery and death by both the Japanese and American soldiers. New threats began to emerge from a new enemy, Russia, a one-time American ally during WWII, the result of conflicting ideological and governing methodologies. Russia further devolved into Communism, while America maintained democracy and Capitalism as the underpinnings of its society. America’s foreign policy towards Russia was formulated into one of global containment. With the emergence of the "cold" war by 1947 new roles were being defined for the Aleutian Islands as a part of those containment efforts, the foremost of which was not only maintaining the security of America’s far-reaching, albeit remote, Aleutian islands and the safety of their peoples…but also that of the north American continent over a thousand miles further towards the east and beyond. Russia’s primary threat emerged in the 1960s with the evolution of ICBM missile technology and their nuclear warheads that could be carried towards America’s shores, coupled with their newly developed anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) defense systems designed to counter America’s growing arsenal of offensive ICBMs. Requirements were now mandated to keep an eye on Russia’s progress along those lines, as well as to provide early warnings of a potential launch of lethal missiles headed towards America. To minimize the arms escalation by both sides, the SALT I treaty was signed in 1972, followed by the 1974 efforts to put SALT II in place. The AN/FPS-108 radar installation, otherwise known as “Cobra Dane,” was built on Shemya, Aleutian Islands, AK in 1976, and brought on-line in 1977. It’s primary mission was that of intelligence gathering in support of verification of the SALT II arms limitation treaty by monitoring Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kura Test Range facilities, and their on-going MIRV testing to ensure compliance with the SALT treaties. Some 35 miles to the west of Shemya the U. S. Coast Guard continued manning Attu Island’s LORAN Station with a small contingency of about 20 members providing regional NAVAIDS for vessels having LORAN capabilities. In 2000, considering the evolution of GPS satellite navigation technologies, there came threats to close Attu Station as a cost-savings measure. A reprieve kept the station opened until August, 2010, when it was finally closed, abandoned, and uninhabited. Such was the environment surrounding the Aleutian Islands, and that in which thousands of American’s served in various capacities during the post-WWII years. Tours of duty on Attu were considered to be remote isolated tours. There were no families permitted at this station. Electricity was supplied by USCG Generators. Weather patterns were such that either taking off or landing on Attu’s landing strip could be extremely hazardous. Overcast skies, high winds, and williwaws (producing winds in excess of 100 knots) were the weather norms. Summer fogs resulting from the intersection of the Bering Sea and the North Pacific often reduced visibility to just several yards. The mountain adjacent to the landing strip also provided a formidable hazard to landings and takeoffs. Attu Island today is under the protection of the National Parks Trust Territory. There are few individuals visiting Attu these days as the island has been placed under restrictions by the National Parks Service. The island had been shelled for lengthy periods of time by off-shore Naval battle ships as a prelude to the Attu landings by Allied Forces on the 10th of May, 1943 as well as during post-landing support as required. Aircraft also dropped bombs on Japanese held positions as well. Mortar shells and hand grenades were lobbed on each other’s positions. To this day…there are fears of unexploded munitions that haven’t either been discovered and removed, or otherwise disabled that perhaps in part drives these cautionary measures. Pete Wolfe and Jim Flynn initially provided many of these photos, which were forwarded to us by Rene Thibault. Our thanks to all for providing such beautiful content for these pages! The scrapbooks are collections of stories and photos unique to an individual of their experiences on Attu.
Last updated: 11/22/2016 08:11
ATTU VILLAGE In this village the Aleuts made their home. It consisted of about nine buildings to house the population, and a Russian Orthodox Church. The Village had a Priest and a School Teacher. The Teacher was also the village Doctor.