It was 68 years ago this past June when the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and invaded the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu. As the Japanese dug in, the U.S. began bombing the intruders while working at a feverish pace to establish airfields to more effectively support the bombing runs, including the Adak base which also served as the staging area for the invasions that enabled the U.S. to recapture both islands.
Now a current exhibit at the Anchorage Museum is highlighting this lesser known WWII story with the "Kiska and Adak: War in the Aleutians" on display through February 20, 2011. Both Kiska and Adak are designated National Historic Landmarks and the NPS was instrumental in organizing the exhibit and providing photographs, materials, and caption text. The inspiration for the exhibit was a collection of nearly 40 digitally dramatized photographs of the modern day Kiska battlefield by Professor Dirk Spennemann, taken in connection with NPS and USFWS documentation site visits and made possible with a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program.
The exhibit highlights Aleutian soldiers' life with over 200 photographs -- some being shown for the first time of U.S. soldiers who lived on Kiska, as well as display items from the Anchorage Museum's collection of Aleutian soldiers' life as seen through artwork, cartoons, clothing, military and personal articles.
The exhibition is a collaborative effort of the Alaska Regional Office, the Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia, and the Anchorage Museum. The exhibition opening was timed to coincide with Alaska Archaeology Month and was made possible with the support of the Alaska Anthropological Association and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area. Janis Kozlowski, program manager for NPS Affiliated Areas and Beringia, is planning to offer the modern-day Kiska landscape photographs as a travelling exhibit in the future. The exhibit continues to garner attention with the Anchorage Daily News reporting that the Kiska exhibit on-line website stories and photographs have exceeded the level of "extraordinary" viewing traffic. The on-line articles with Kiska photograph series by Dirk Spennemann can be seen at the link below.