IMPACTS OF MILITARY ACTIVITIES (continued)
The Aircraft Warning Service, part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, received authorization in May 1940 to begin setting up a network of Alaska detector sites. The military's Western Defense Command initially proposed four such sites, and in December 1940, authorization was granted to construct four fixed sites and one mobile site. Three months later, stations were authorized at a minimum of seven additional locations. These stations were designed to give a minimum warning to the approach of hostile aircraft at the territory's three largest Navy bases (at Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, and Sitka) and its two largest Army bases (at Anchorage and Fairbanks). The Western Defense Command, up to this point, did not propose any AWS detector sites in the Seward area.. 
Following the declaration of war in December 1941, the Commanding General of the Alaska Defense Command was given the authority to immediately construct detector sites as determined by the tactical situation. Soon afterward, new detector sites were established surrounding each major air base in Alaska. Then, in October 1942, the Alaska's Air Defense Plan was expanded to include Very High Frequency stations for local communication with certain friendly aircraft during periods of general radio silence. The construction of the Outer Island Aircraft Warning Service Station, in the Pye Islands 80 miles southwest of Seward, was constructed in response to one of these two initiatives. The station was one of the more than 20 Alaska AWS stations which were either operating or under construction by the end of 1942.. 
Contemporary maps and drawings suggest that the Outer Island AWS station was first proposed in June 1942..  By August a small, temporary construction camp had apparently been established at the island's southeastern tip, 325 feet above sea level. Plans were laid out that month for a detector-site complex large enough to house 150 men. The proposed camp, which would be laid out on a south-facing hill, surrounded a small swamp. The camp would consist of a 50-man headquarters building, two 50-man barracks, three 16' x 36' Quonset huts (for materials storage), three latrines, a cold storage building, a powerhouse, and the detector site. Water would be provided by two concrete-lined storage tanks, connected to the camp by water lines. Either underground or overhead power lines connected the powerhouse to each building; the entire camp would be connected to the north side of the island by a 0.6-mile dirt road. The proposed Kitten Pass landing site, at the island's northern end, would have a dock, where two additional 16' x 36' Quonset huts were proposed; the dock, located at the base of a cliff, would connect to the road by means of a short tramway and stairway.. 
Construction on the permanent camp closely followed the outlined plans. Much of the camp was built that winter; the communications gear was installed by the Signal Corps, while the buildings and supporting infrastructure were supplied by the Corps of Engineers. The detector site was fully operational by March 1943. By October, the camp had been completed. During that summer or fall, the island saw its only "action" when the commander of a U.S. ship convoy ordered his crew to open fire with its 20mm guns. The detector-site crew, clearly alarmed at the assault, jumped behind sandbags and radioed that they were under attack by a Japanese submarine. The convoy commander was obviously unaware that the island had a fully staffed AWS station. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident.. 
Little is known about the lifestyle led by the soldiers stationed on Outer Island. One anecdote suggests that many soldiers, either out of frustration or boredom, killed hundreds of sea lions at their rookeries while out on patrol. Another account states that Outer Island soldiers, like soldiers in many remote areas, were lonely; they thus welcomed the opportunity to socialize with others. Josephine Sather, who lived on nearby Nuka Island, recalled that:
It is not known how long soldiers remained on Outer Island. They probably remained at their post until the spring or summer of 1944; then they, like those who were serving at the various Resurrection Bay posts, vacated the area and moved to camps in the States.
The area, not having been withdrawn by the War Department, remained part of the public domain for the duration of the war. When the soldiers left, military officials apparently removed the camp's communication gear and other valuable equipment. They abandoned the various buildings, however.
The camp was quickly forgotten and its material remains soon deteriorated. When the U.S. Geological Survey studied the island in 1951, in conjunction with a topographic map of the area published that year, it made no indication of buildings or other cultural features.. 
For the next several decades, few visited or paid attention to the old World War II site. In July 1976, Nina Faust visited the landing site at the northern end of the island as part of a bird survey. While there, she found many remaining artifacts. She noted that:
Excerpts of Ms. Faust's journal from that visit provide an excellent description of both the landing and camp area:
Many of those who have visited the island since then have also focused on the decaying resources at the north-end landing site. Marge Tillion, who lived on nearby Nuka Island during the early 1980s, noted that it was still possible to ascend the stairs rising from the beach. In 1989, archeologist Mike Yarborough noted that the site consisted of "three flights of log stairs, iron rails, and drilled boulders on or adjacent to a boulder beach at the northeast corner of the island." Yarborough, who was unable to make a land survey, also noted a road cut that "runs up the mountain slope along the southeastern coast of the island" and located an iron cart beside the road.. 
National Park Service ranger Mike Tetreau visited the island in 1994. He noted that in the old camp area, salmonberries and other overgrowth had done much to obscure the visible resources. He recalled, however, seeing the remains of at least two large bunkhouse structures and at least two smaller buildings. Of these buildings, perhaps one wall remained standing; all the rest were collapsed. One of the buildings was buttressed with earth mounds. The road that once connected the camp to the landing area was almost if not entirely obscured.. 
Last Updated: 26-Oct-2002