• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

William and Bobbe Crooks

William Crooks entered the US Navy as an aviation cadet and was commissioned a Marine Corp Reserve second Lieutenant Naval Aviator in 1944. During WWII he saw combat as a fighter pilot (in F4U1 and F4U4 Corsair) with VMF-211, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the South Pacific where he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and five air medals. He went on to serve in the Korean War at K-6 flying air support, and interdiction. His final tour to a war zone was in Vietnam as part of the 3rd Marine Division. His recon battalion was set up to evacuate American Nationals, if necessary. He served as military advisor to the command staff in Saigon and upon completion of service was awarded several military honors. Colonel Crooks retired from the Marines a highly decorated officer.

Roberta “Bobbe” Penhallick Crooks moved to Anchorage from Washington State in 1940 to get a job where wages were better . When war broke out and the threat of Japanese invasion was feared non-essential personnel were asked to leave and Bobbe went back to Spokane. During her time in Alaska she witnessed the military build-up in Alaska, the influence of the military on Anchorage and the restrictions imposed on civilians living in the state. After marrying William Crooks, a Navy fighter pilot and later Colonel, Bobbe talks about living a military lifestyle as their family grew.
 

 

 

Did You Know?

A PBY plane surrounded by crew

A PBY plane piloted by Lt. Jean Cusick was sent from Dutch Harbor, on June 3, 1942, to locate Japanese forces in the Pacific. He was shot down by enemy fighters en route. Five men out of the seven-man crew survived the crash and got into life rafts. Cusick and his enlisted pilot died on the rafts from their wounds. The other three were captured by the Japanese, and became the first prisoners of war in the Aleutian Campaign.