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Tag: Aleutian Islands

The Japanese Invasion of America

While June 6, 1944, is best known as the day when Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied Europe, there was another invasion that took place on almost the same day, just two years prior: the Japanese invasion of the United States.

On June 7, 1942, Japanese forces moved onto the Alaskan territorial island of Attu—an Aleutian Island closer to Japan than to mainland Alaska, setting the stage for the only land battle in World War II that would take place on U.S. soil.

When the Japanese invaded, there were only two non-native Americans on the island, Charles and Etta Jones, and about 45 Aleuts.

According to one account of the invasion, when the Japanese arrived, they came into the Joneses’ home and poked 62-year-old Etta with a bayonet, asking in English, “How many are here?”

“Two,” Etta replied. “How many have you?”

“Two thousand” was the answer.

By 1943, the island population had swelled to over 2,300, all of whom were Japanese soldiers settling in to defend the island, and on May 11, 1943, the Battle of Attu began.

The barren island was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific campaign.  American forces landed uncontested while the Japanese dug in at higher ground, and when the attack came, it was brutal: there were 549 U.S. deaths, and 2,351 Japanese deaths. Perhaps more … [ Read all ]