The Aleutian Islands served as the battleground for some of the bloodiest conflicts on American soil since the Civil War. But most people have never heard of the Battle of Attu, the invasion of Kiska, or even the Aleutian campaign. A Japanese filmmaker wants to change that.
In 1942, there were 44 people living on Attu Island, nearly all Alaska Natives. They were taken as captives to Japan, where half of them died. And after the war, the federal government forbade them from returning. In August, a group of 11 descendants finally visited their ancestral home for the first time.
The Jesse Lee Home is a nearly century-old former children’s home and the birthplace of the Alaska state flag. The nonprofit Friends of the Jesse Lee Home had millions in grants and more than a decade to fix it up, but now time is running out.
Seventy-five years ago, Japan and the United States were locked in one of the bloodiest battles fought on American soil: the Battle of Attu. In 1943, American troops were streaming into Alaska in preparation for one of the deadliest battles of World War II. One year earlier, Japanese soldiers had bombed Dutch Harbor, seized Attu Island and took the Alaska Native people who lived there as prisoners of war.