Alaska Territory During World War II: 1942-1943

Alaska was made a territory of the United States in 1912, (given statehood in 1959) and was considered American soil during the 1940s and World War II.

An important battle in the Pacific ocean, the Aleutian Islands Campaign is mostly forgotten because it took place simultaneously with the Battle of Guadalcanal, as well as the Battle of Midway. While often overlooked, it is yet another of our Army's significant military feats of the war. 

From June 1942 until August 1943 the Japanese tried to invade the U.S. by way of the Aleutian Island chain, just off of the Alaska Peninsula. On June 3, 1942, Japanese bombers attacked Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. The Japanese took control of the islands of Kiska on June 6, 1942, and Attu on June 7, 1942.

On May 11, 1943, the operation to recapture Attu began. Included with the invasion force was a group of scouts recruited from the Alaska Territory, known as Castner's Cutthroats. On August 15, 1943, an invasion force of 34,426 Allied troops landed on Kiska. Castner's Cutthroats were part of the force, but the invasion force was made up of units primarily from the United States 7th Infantry Division. 1,481 U.S. soldiers and its allies killed, 3416 wounded/disease.

In driving the Japanese from the Aleutians, the only foothold on American soil in the Western Hemisphere was gone. 


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