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Lest We Forget

A great battle of WWII took place on the Island of Attu, sovereign American soil, territory of Alaska during the period 11 May to 29 May 1943. Both the American and Japanese forces suffered losses of staggering proportions.

It culminated in a massive banzai attack by nearly 1,000 Japanese soldiers led by Colonel Yasuyo Yamazaki at Engineer Hill on 29 May 1943.

Once it was over, 549 Americans of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division and the fighting 4th Infantry Regiment of the Alaska Defense Force had been killed in action during this 19 day battle. Over 250 on Engineer Hill alone. 1,148 had been wounded and 2,100 were casualties of the severe weather which plagues Attu in winter.

1,851 soldiers of the Empire of Japan were killed in battle and when it was realized the battle was lost, nearly 500 more committed suicide by placing a live grenade to their belly or head. Only 29 were captured.

On July 4, 1943, men who had remained on the island assembled at Little Falls Cemetery to say their final farewell to these men or valor – heroes all!

Major Charles G. Fredericks read Roll Call of the honored dead.

Lieutenant Colonel Glen A. Nelson spoke of the horrors of war.

A Sergeant sang “My Buddy”.

Chaplain Habetz gave a prayer of remembrance and sacrifice in which he sanctified the entire battlefield area as “Hallowed Ground”.

After the volley, the last note of “taps” echoed over the mountains. Then it was over.

Captain Robert C. Foulston started to give the order “Forward March”, but the word “March” stuck in his throat.

With chins clamped hard and wet eyes blinking, the silent fighting men marched off the field.

It had been paid for. Attu was again, ours.

ROLL CALL (only Alaska names are given here)



Browne, Levi Anchorage

Sands, Lonnie Anchorage

Sano, William Naknak

Tanhershey, James Cullman




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