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War Week at Alaskan Librarian

Full Disclosure: I am Sheri Somerville’s supervisor.


When I was coming of age in the 1980s, a number of the local TV channels in Los Angeles would happily tout “War Week” the week before or after Memorial Day. War Week would consist of marathons of war movies from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Because I’m feeling nostalgic and because I attended an excellent presentation by Sheri Somerville at the Alaska State Library on military history resources, I’ve decided to declare “War Week” at the Alaskan Librarian.

For the next five days, I will highlight a different Alaska military history resource that was in Sheri’s presentation.

Today’s site is a chronology of military events here in Alaska:

Elmendorf Air Force Base, “Military History in Alaska, 1867-2000”

Some facts you can learn from this site include:

  • The Army remained the sole U.S. government in Alaska for the next ten years [till 1877].
  • To link the widely scattered and isolated forts together, the Army Signal Corps built the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS) between 1900 and 1904.
  • Between 1921 and 1925, all the forts except Fort Seward (renamed Chilkoot Barracks) were closed. All that remained of the Army presence in Alaska, until the outbreak of World War II, were two infantry companies at Chilkoot Barracks, two Signal Corps companies that maintained and operated the Alaskan Communications System, and a small number of U.S. Army Corps of Engineer personnel who managed various construction projects.
  • The Alaska Air Guard was formed in l952, and federally recognized on l July l953. It and the Army Guard make up today’s Alaska National Guard.
  • The reduction of tensions [after the cold war] was also reflected in the number of Russian military visits to Alaska. The first occurred in August 1989 when two MIG-29s and a support transport stopped at Elmendorf AFB to refuel while en route to an air show in Canada. Since then, refueling stops became common and high ranking Russian visits to military bases in Alaska routine.

This page offers links to current air force news in Alaska.

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