War stories: A close-up look at the Alaskan front in WWII

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A series of free public lectures spotlighting different aspects of the Aleutian campaign in World War II will unfold on Thursday nights for the next month at the Anchorage Museum.

Most Alaskans are aware, to some degree, of the history. In 1942, the Japanese military invaded and occupied two islands at the western end of the Aleutian Chain. American and Canadian forces mounted massive counter-attacks. Thousands died.

By the time the shooting stopped, a civilian population had been permanently displaced. The islands bristled with weaponry. Legions of soldiers were encamped in the mud and ice of the stormy region where some were taking the first steps toward desegregation in the Armed Forces.

Soldiers' life

The first talk, presented by historian Janet Clemens and Janiz Koslowski, program manager for the National Park Service's WW II National Historical Program, will look at the experiences of the American pilots, soldiers and sailors involved in the battle.

Koslowski, who has interviewed more than 40 veterans, will share their stories along with a trove of photos.

Among those veterans was Sam Maloof, later one of America's most admired designers and woodworkers. He was among some 35,000 troops sent to dislodge the Japanese from Kiska, an engagement that the Allies thought would be a bloodbath....

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