A Mississippi native, Joseph Sasser was drafted into the Army in 1942. Inducted into the Coast Artillery he would quickly be recruited for the 7th Provisional Scout Company, an infantry division with a very strict and arduous training regime and a mission not entirely clear. Whether good news or bad, Joseph was transferred to the 50th Combat Engineers and sent to Alaska where the Engineers would help expel Japanese forces entrenched on the island and intersect with the 7th Provisional Scout Company. Lack of proper clothing and equipment for the harsh Alaskan environment, sleepless nights in fox holes, an arduous battle on what become known as Engineer Hill on Attu and the invasion of Kiska would make Joseph’s tour in the Aleutians a memorable one. Learn more about Joseph’s experiences on Attu and Kiska in an interview conducted in 2011 and his hand-written memoir.
Courtesy Joseph Sasser
Joseph Sasser Transcript Summary (download full transcript above)
[0:00:18.1] Permission to tape the phone conversation.
[0:00:28.9] His memories about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
[0:02:14.0] Being drafted into the military and serving at the coastal artillery.
[0:03:03.3] Joining the 7th Provisional Scout Company.
[0:04:39.1] Recruiting hard workers.
[0:06:01.3] Arduous commando-like training in Fort Ord.
[0:09:47.6] 7th Scout Company going to the Aleutians and Massacre Bay.
[0:11:58.0] Lack of proper equipment for the harsh conditions.
[0:16:26.1] Sleeping in foxholes at night.
[0:17:13.6] Serving with the 50th Combat Engineers on Attu.
[0:19:29.9] Ensuing battle and naming of Engineer Hill on Attu.
[0:27:22.5] Dealing with Japanese prisoners.
[0:28:15.5] Joining the military and then going to war less than six months later.
[0:30:19.0] Difficulties with moving equipment in the tundra.
[0:31:36.1] Learning that they were headed to Alaska.
[0:33:46.8] Brief time in Adak and then going to Kiska.
[0:36:28.8] Writing letters for fellow soldiers who could not write.
[0:39:36.3] Crossing paths with other soldiers from Mississippi during the war.
[0:42:22.9] Role of the Combat Engineers.
[0:45:31.3] Memories of the battle on Engineer Hill and the war.
[0:50:37.3] Time spent at Washington and Lee University.
[0:54:24.3] Discussing his love for music.
[0:58:00.6] Pursuing his interest in music.
[1:01:10.9] Describing his hobbies, including music and trapping.
[1:03:10.9] Blue fox on Attu.
[1:04:00.6] USO shows in the Aleutians.
[1:05:25.7] Landing at Gertrude Cove on Kiska.
[1:06:31.9] The weather at Kiska.
[1:07:36.2] Japanese leaving Kiska.
[1:10:26.6] The Canadian troops on Kiska.
[1:11:09.8] Air attacks on Kiska.
[1:12:54.2] Article in a Mississippi newspaper about a troop ship in Aleutians.
[1:14:28.5] Leaving Kiska aboard a flat bottom ship.
[1:16:31.5] Discussion about Higgins boats, Andrew Jackson Higgins, and his daughter.
[1:22:24.0] Service after leaving Alaska.
[1:26:44.2] Discharge from the military.
[1:29:01.9] Mr. Sasser’s grandmother.
[1:31:02.2] Discussion about Navy Admiral who is a close friend.
[1:35:13.5] Mr. Sasser’s family.
[1:39:06.4] Closing comments.
End of interview at 1:39:44.9