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The Japanese occupation of Kiska took place between 6 June 1942 and 28 July 1943 during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of the American Theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II. The Japanese occupied Kiska and nearby Attu Island in order to protect the northern flank of the Japanese Empire. Along with the Attu landing the next day, it was the first time that the continental United States was occupied by a foreign power since the War of 1812, and was one of the only two invasions of the United States during World War II.
Initially, the only American military presence on Kiska was a twelve-man United States Navy weather station—two of whom were not present during the invasion—and a dog named Explosion.The Japanese stormed the station, killing two Americans and capturing seven. After realizing that Chief petty officer William C. House had escaped, a search was launched by the occupying forces. The search ended in vain, with House surrendering some fifty days after the initial seizure of the weather station, having been unable to cope with the freezing conditions & starvation. After 50 days of eating only plants and worms, he weighed just 80 pounds. Beforehand, the prisoners of war had been sent to Japan.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and beginning of the Pacific Theater in World War II, coupled with Japanese threats to mainland Alaska along with the rest of the United States West Coast, had already made the construction of a defense access highway to Alaska a priority. On 6 February 1942, the construction of the Alaska Highway was approved by the U.S. Army and the project received the authorization from the U.S. Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proceed five days later.
Reacting to the Japanese occupation, American and Allied forces waged a continuous air bombardment campaign against the Japanese forces on Kiska. Also, U.S. Navy warships blockaded and periodically bombarded the island. Several Japanese warships, transport ships, and submarines attempting to travel to Kiska or Attu were sunk or damaged by the blockading forces.
In May 1943, U.S. forces landed on Attu in Operation Landcrab and subsequently destroyed the Japanese garrison there. In response, the Imperial Japanese Navy successfully evacuated the island of Kiska ending the Japanese presence in the Aleutian Islands.
On July 29, 1943, Rear Admiral Kimura Masatomi, commanding two light cruisers and ten destroyers, slipped through the American blockade under the cover of fog and rescued 5,193 men. The operation was run by light cruisers Abukuma (1.212 men) and Kiso (1.189 men), and destroyers Yugumo (479 men), Kazagumo (478 men), Usugumo (478 men), Asagumo (476 men), Akigumo (463 men) and Hibiki (418 men). The destroyers Hatsushimo, Naganami, Shimakaze and Samidare gave cover to the operation.
Not completely sure that the Japanese were gone, the Americans and Canadians executed an unopposed landing on Kiska on 15 August, securing the island and ending the Aleutian Islands campaign. After the landing, the soldiers were greeted by a group of dogs who had been left behind. Among them was Explosion, who had been cared for by the Japanese.
Over 313 Allied casualties resulted from this attack on the unoccupied island, due to friendly fire, accidents, landmines, and booby traps.
On 19 June 1942, American aircraft attacked and sank the Japanese oiler Nissan Maru in Kiska Harbor and on 30 June American naval forces bombarded the island. The American submarine USS Growler attacked and sank one Japanese destroyer 7 mi (6.1 nmi ; 11 km ) east of Kiska Harbor on 5 July, two other destroyers were also heavily damaged. Over 200 Japanese sailors were killed or wounded while the Americans sustained no losses, it became the single bloodiest engagement during the operations on and around Kiska. USS Grunion was attacked by three Japanese submarine chasers while patrolling Kiska Harbor on 15 July. In response, she fired on and sank two of the Japanese ships and damaged the third. Grunion was lost a few weeks later off Kiska on 30 July with all hands, she is suspected of being sunk after one of her own torpedoes circled back when she attacked the Kano Maru.
On 8 August, the Japanese cargo ship Kano Maru was sunk at Kiska Harbor by PBY Catalinas. Days before, the cargo ship was damaged by one of Grunion's torpedoes. Troopship Nozima Maru was also bombed and sunk in Kiska Harbor on 15 September. On 5 October, the Japanese steamer Borneo Maru was sunk at Gertrude Cove and on the 17th, the destroyer Oboro was sunk by American aircraft. RO-65 sank off Kiska on 4 November, Montreal Maru on 6 January 1943, and Uragio Maru on 4 April. I-7 was grounded and abandoned by her crew on 23 June while assisting in removing Kiska's garrison. She was chased onto the rocks by USS Monaghan.
USS Grunion (SS-216) was a Gato-class submarine that sank at Kiska, Alaska, during World War II. She was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grunion.
USS S-28 (SS-133) was an S-class submarine of the United States Navy. A diesel submarine, she served during World War II during which she accounted for the sinking of one Japanese ship. Her keel was laid down on 16 April 1919 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 20 September 1922, sponsored by Mrs. William R. Monroe, and commissioned on 13 December 1923, Lieutenant Kemp C. Christian in command. She was lost at sea with all hands in July 1944. The remains of the sub were found in 2017 at a depth of 8,500 feet (2,600 m) off the coast of Oahu.
Kiska is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is about 22 miles (35 km) long and varies in width from 1.5 to 6 miles. It is part of Aleutian Islands Wilderness and as such, special permissions are required to visit it. The island has no permanent population.
USS Abner Read (DD-526) was a Fletcher-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander Abner Read, who fought in the American Civil War. The ship fought in World War II, seeing action in the Aleutian Islands Campaign. Afterwards she survived hitting a mine that blew off her stern in 1943. After repairs, she returned to service and operated in support of Allied forces in the New Guinea campaign and the Battle of Leyte. She was sunk off Leyte in 1944.
The Aleutian Islands campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American theater and the Pacific theater of World War II starting on 3 June 1942. In the only two invasions of the United States during the war, a small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska, where the remoteness of the islands and the challenges of weather and terrain delayed a larger U.S.-Canadian force sent to eject them for nearly a year. The islands' strategic value was their ability to control Pacific transportation routes, which is why U.S. General Billy Mitchell stated to the U.S. Congress in 1935, "I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world." The Japanese reasoned that control of the Aleutians would prevent a possible U.S. attack across the Northern Pacific. Similarly, the U.S. feared that the islands would be used as bases from which to carry out a full-scale aerial attack on U.S. West Coast cities like Anchorage, Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.
The Eleventh Air Force (11 AF) is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska.
Nenohi was the second of six Hatsuharu-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy under the Circle One Program. Three were laid down in JFY 1931 and the next three in JFY 1933. The remaining six ships in the plan were built as the Shiratsuyu class.
Usugumo was the seventh of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyer, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.
Operation Cottage was a tactical maneuver which completed the Aleutian Islands campaign. On August 15, 1943, Allied military forces landed on Kiska Island, which had been occupied by Japanese forces since June 1942.
The Battle of Dutch Harbor took place on June 3–4, 1942, when the Imperial Japanese Navy launched two aircraft carrier raids on the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and U.S. Army Fort Mears at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island, during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of World War II. The bombing marked the first aerial attack by an enemy on the continental United States, and was the second time in history that the continental U.S. was bombed by someone working for a foreign power, the first being the bombing of Naco, Arizona by Patrick Murphy despite being an accident.
The Battle of Attu, which took place on 11–30 May 1943, was a battle fought between forces of the United States, aided by Canadian reconnaissance and fighter-bomber support, and Japan on Attu Island off the coast of the Territory of Alaska as part of the Aleutian Islands Campaign during the American Theater and the Pacific Theater.
The Japanese Occupation Site on Kiska island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska is where the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked and occupied the island in World War II, as one of the only two enemy invasion sites in North America during the war. The Japanese built defenses and other infrastructure on the island before abandoning it in 1943 after losing the Battle of Attu. American and Canadian forces reoccupied the abandoned island, and departed the island in 1946. Now a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the central portion of the island, where these military activities were concentrated, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
Amchitka Air Force Base is an abandoned Air Force Base located on Amchitka, in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska.
The Action of 5 July 1942 was a naval engagement fought during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of World War II. During the action, the American submarine USS Growler attacked three Imperial Japanese warships anchored off Kiska island. It was the first action of Growler's career and ended with the loss of dozens of Japanese sailors.
The Japanese occupation of Attu was the result of an invasion of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II. Imperial Japanese Army troops landed on 7 June 1942 the day after the invasion of Kiska. Along with the Kiska landing, it was the first time that the continental United States was invaded and occupied by a foreign power since the War of 1812, and was the second of the only two invasions of the United States during World War II. The occupation ended with the Allied victory in the Battle of Attu on 30 May 1943.
The military history of the Aleutian Islands began almost immediately following the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire by the United States in 1867. Prior to the early 20th century, the Aleutian Islands were essentially ignored by the United States Armed Forces, although the islands played a small role in the Bering Sea Arbitration when a number of British and American vessels were stationed at Unalaska to enforce the arbitrators' decision. By the early 20th century, a number of war strategies examined the possibility of conflict breaking out between the Empire of Japan and the United States. While the Aleutian Islands were seen as a potential staging point for invasions by either side, this possibility was dismissed owing to the islands' dismal climate. In 1922, the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, after which the United States Navy began to take an interest in the islands. However, nothing of significance was to materialize until World War II.
Naval Air Facility Adak, was a United States Navy airport located west of Adak, on Adak Island in the U.S. state of Alaska. After its closure in 1997, it was reopened as Adak Airport. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark for its role in World War II, although most of its elements from that period have been demolished or lie in ruins.
Shiro Kawase was a vice admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He was a torpedo expert and his extensive experience as a commander of destroyers and destroyer formations made him more knowledgeable about the escort of convoys than most Japanese commanders of his time. He is best known for his command of the 5th Fleet during the latter stages of the Aleutians campaign in the spring and summer of 1943.
The Landing at Amchitka was the amphibious landing operation and occupation of Amchitka island by American forces during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
Nissan Maru was a Japanese cargo ship completed in 1939 owned by Nissan Kisen K.K. that was requestioned for service as an auxiliary collier and oiler by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She served with the 5th Fleet and was sunk by United States Army Air Forces bombers during the Japanese occupation of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
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