• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

Paul Polink

Paul Polink along with his four brothers served in the military during WWII. Miraculously all five brothers survived the war. Paul himself signed up for the Air Force Reserve during his senior year in high school and was trained as a gunner and an aircraft mechanic.

He was assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron, which transported mail, troops, the wounded, supplies, the Governor of Alaska, several U.S. Senators, and members of the USO such as Joe Lewis. He also played baseball for his squadron and remembers playing at midnight due to Alaska's midnight sun.
 
Paul Polink (middle) and two other men
Paul Polink (middle) and two other men wait for a bus to Anchorage
photo courtesy paul polink
 


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Transcript summary

  1. Year of arrival in Alaska, joining Air Force reserves, desire to become a pilot, aptitude and selection as an aircraft mechanic audio / transcript
  2. Five men from family serving in WWII audio / transcript
  3. Ford Bomber School, Michigan, military training in various schools audio / transcript
  4. Troop carrier school, assignment to the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron, landing at Elmendorf Field in 1944 audio / transcript
  5. Flying missions out of Elmendorf Field, flying C-47s audio / transcript
  6. Flying missions to the Aleutians, remembering when the Japanese surrendered audio / transcript
  7. Colonel Grossmith, flying well known people to the Aleutians audio / transcript
  8. The C-47 as a medical ship, handling wounded, the effect of Aleutian duty on men's psyche audio / transcript
  9. Impressions of the Aleutians, frightening landing on Attu, weather audio / transcript
  10. Flying materials and men into weather stations, what it meant to serve as a C-47 mechanic in Alaska, working part time for commercial carriers, mechanics pay audio / transcript
  11. Profession as school principle after the war audio / transcript
  12. Life on Elemendorf Air Force Base, winter darkness in Alaska, interest of a 19 year old in seeing Alaska audio / transcript
  13. Recreation during time off from military duty, playing baseball, love of baseball, playing baseball for the 54th Troop Carrier team and later for the St Vincent College, Ft Richardson field, midnight sun baseball in Fairbanks audio / transcript
  14. Playing sports as a kid, coaching for a high school team, military baseball league audio / transcript
  15. Making friends in the service, popularity of the 54th among the men, giving men a ride to "see the sun" audio / transcript
  16. Keeping in touch with family, news from other theatres of war, worries about brothers safety, where four brothers were stationed during the war, desire to write a book about all 5 brothers war experiences audio / transcript
  17. Photos from an emergency evacuation of a ship aground, Aleutian volcanoes audio / transcript
  18. Recognizing veterans for their service, pride in service under the 54th, plaque for 54th at Air Force Academy audio / transcript
  19. Colonel Grossmith, Grossmith and the Berlin Airlift audio / transcript
  20. Popularity of the 54th among the service men, dreams vs reality in military service, importance of aircraft mechanics to air crew audio / transcript
  21. Confidence in pilots in the C-47, mechanic training, brothers experience as a B-24 pilot in the 15th Air Force audio / transcript
  22. Availability of aircraft parts, learning from more experienced mechanics audio / transcript
 

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.