History came alive on Saturday when Juneau residents heard the words of a sailor who eventually perished when his vessel, the U.S.S. Juneau, was sunk during World War II.
Seaman William George Meeker, a sailor aboard the light cruiser that sank following the naval battle of Guadalcanal, sent seventeen letters to Winifred Blohm, his next door neighbor and good friend in Harrison, New Jersey.
The letters were briefly put on display at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and an actor read from some of them during an event on Saturday.
The letters were donated by Blohm’s daughter and son-in-law Mary and Ray Testa.
Jodi DeBruyne, curator of the museum’s collections and exhibits, says they just received the letters last week – one week before the seventieth anniversary of the U.S.S. Juneau’s sinking.
“Mary was reading through the letters last December,” recalls DeBruyne. “So, they came across them and they discovered this great love story. They want to preserve it for a future (generation) and for William Meeker not to be forgotten.”
DeBruyne says letters will be preserved in archival- and museum-quality settings until they are brought out for display again.
Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker brokered the donation of the letters from the Testa family.
Also included: pictures of Meeker and a picture of Winifred Blohm visiting Juneau in 1991. The Testas are trying to track down another picture of Blohm visiting the U.S.S. Juneau memorial on the waterfront.
She passed away in 1998.
Among the 687-sailors who perished when the Juneau was sunk on November 13th, 1942 were the five Sullivan brothers. At least two other sets of brothers reportedly served on the vessel.
A service is planned at the U.S.S. Juneau memorial on the waterfront at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
- For the second time this year, a Republican from Matanuska-Susitna Borough left the state Senate majority caucus.
- The U.S. Senate is working on the health care bill, and Alaska health commissioner Valerie Davidson is in Washington, D.C., to meet with Alaska's senators, Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. One-quarter of Alaska's population currently is covered by Medicaid.
- Police posted this security video of the suspect on its Facebook page and described him as white, 25 to 30 years old, 6-foot-3 and skinny with scruffy facial hair.
- Uber and Lyft are negotiating with the City and Borough of Juneau over the collection of the city's sales tax. The companies insist it's the drivers' responsibility to collect and remit the 5 percent tax on fares.