• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

Joseph Baldeschi

Joseph Baldeschi was born in Pennsylvania in 1924 but following the untimely death of his mother was sent to Italy to be raised by his grandparents. Returning to the US in 1938, Joe graduated from high school in 1943 and was inducted into the US Navy. He was trained as an aerial gunner and subsequently transferred to NAS Whidbey Island, WA and assigned to Fleet Wing Four, VPB-139 destined for Attu Island, Alaska. Their assignment was to photograph the northern section of the Japanese Kurile Islands, primarily the islands of Paramushiro and Shimushu, and destroy military installations. Just 10 days into his tour, Joe was wounded by shrapnel created by the explosion of an enemy shell. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.

Read a story explaining Joe's injury during combat, written by Joe's crewmate Chet Silas.
 
Photo of Joseph Baldeschi receiving purple heart beside recent photo of himself with his wife
An officer from Fleet Airwing 4 awarding Joe Baldeschi the purple heart.
Courtesy Joe Baldeschi, ARM 2c, VB-139, June 1943-June 1945.
 
 

 

Did You Know?

USFWS photo of a pair of whiskered auklets on Unalaska Island

The waters around Unalaska Island are one of the few places in the world to find the rare whiskered auklet.