Skip to main content

Aleutian Duty

May 2024
1min read


An old Alaska boy myself (and a journalist who has written about World War II in the Aleutians), I thoroughly enjoyed the treatment given to the subject by my homeboy colleague Scott Banks (“Empire of the Winds,” April/May 2003).

But I must take exception to his saying that “it was the war’s only campaign fought on American soil.” I was told the same thing back during the 1980s; it’s a myth perpetuated by those in Alaska who don’t understand the status of Hawaii and Guam in the 1940s (they were very much American soil). While Hawaii was never occupied, it certainly saw a good deal of fighting on December 7, 1941, and and Guam certainly qualified on all scores.

The real claims to fame go something like this: Guam was the only American soil with a substantial civilian population that was occupied by the Japanese during World War II; the Aleutians were the only North American soil occupied by them.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate