Remembering Pearl Harbor attack Dec. 7, 1941

Seventy-six years ago Americans learned that United States forces had been attacked that Sunday morning by Japan. Aircraft from the Japanese carrier fleet flew over the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, dropping bombs and torpedoes on ships peacefully tied up at Pearl Harbor. Eight battleships and several other vessels were either sunk or heavily damaged. More than 2,400 military personnel and many civilians lost their lives in the attack. Timed to hit at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, the attack caught many of the sailors still asleep or relaxing in their quarters. The action came as diplomatic negotiations between our two countries were ongoing.

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Voicing the Need for Preserving Veteran Oral Histories

Nearly 100 people attended a workshop hosted by the Alaska Veterans Museum (AVM) and led by the Veterans History Project (VHP) and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian. Attendees learned techniques for collecting oral histories from Alaska’s veterans and how to submit them to VHP, within the Library of Congress, to ensure the stories are preserved for future generations. Col. (ret) Suellyn Novak serves as the president and director for AVM, which is headquartered in Anchorage. AVM’s mission is to educate, honor and inspire by preserving artifacts and stories from Alaskan veterans. AVM has spearheaded numerous oral history efforts for this reason. The workshop fine-tuned those efforts and provided a clear avenue for those stories to be preserved at the Library of Congress.  

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Alaska waters rich but filled with danger

Ocean waters in and around Alaska are filled with treasure. They are also treacherous, subject to high winds, shifting currents, icebergs and extreme cold. They have claimed many ships and many lives over the years. Historically, the month of October has seen the deadliest shipwreck, the most successful rescue and one of the most spectacular maritime disasters. The most tragic was the wreck of the steamship Princess Sophia on Oct. 24, 1918. It resulted in the greatest loss of life of any sinking off Alaska. Although several smaller vessels were standing by, severe weather conditions caused the captain of the ship to wait rather than risk transfer of his passengers. In the end, all 350 aboard were lost in the icy waters of Lynn Canal.

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Alaska, the Setting for a Historic Meeting Between President Nixon and Emperor Hirohito

Nixon’s purpose for visiting Alaska was two-fold. He was invited to meet with Walter J. Hickel, the man he chose as Secretary of the Interior and then fired after the former Alaska governor publicly criticized the commander-in-chief. Hickel hoped for a reconciliation in order to foster support for oil drilling in the Arctic. He and wife Erma hosted Nixon and his wife Pat at a reception that night in their Turnagain home attended by 150 guests who were entertained by popular folk-singer Burl Ives. The trip coincided with a stopover on an over-the-pole flight to Europe by Japanese Emperor Hirohito. It was the first-ever trip by a Japanese monarch to United States soil. Hirohito, then 71, and Empress Nagako were visiting seven nations on the other side of the globe.

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The Veteran’s History Project

Saving Private Ryan inspired Brad Schmitz to plant a tree to honor veterans in 2001. However, after visiting a gravesite in Holland for 8000 U.S. servicemen who gave their lives in World War Two, he wanted to do more. One particular grave from his home state of Idaho, Private Herbert Ronk, stood out to Schmitz. Research and inquiries provided no further information about Ronk. “I’ve asked myself over the years of who I would call my hero,” Schmitz said. “One is Captain Miller [played by Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan]. Everyone loves Captain Miller. But it’s Herbert Ronk, it’s this private who died thirty years before I was born, who’s the real hero. He’s a man I never knew, but he’s this legend in my mind and in my heart because of what he stood for.”

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Cooperatives Bring First Chugiak Utilities

With one exception, for several years Chugiak remained in the dark and telephone, a fragile utility continued subject to the whims of wandering moose.

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Community Enjoyed Brief Independence

Pioneers fending for themselves during the early years, Chugiak-Eagle River residents were reluctant to take on governance. Most welcomed statehood for Alaska and supported the constitution drawn up by citizens.

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Ordinary Folks Take On Services

Last week we looked at a dozen or so families who moved to the wilderness area north of Ft. Richardson and took out Chugiak, home sites or business sites. The

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