Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion

Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion
by Samantha Seiple
Scholastic, 2011. 221 pgs. Nonfiction.

Most of us think the United States escaped invasion during World War II, but several Aleutian Islands were not only invaded but seized by the Japanese and were only retaken at an enormous cost in lives and suffering. The Aleuts on the islands who were taken prisoner by the Japanese mostly died. Only 25 returned to their homeland, and none to their original settlement which had been destroyed in the fighting. Those Aleuts who were "lucky" enough to be evacuated by the United States were taken to abandoned barracks and treated almost as badly as they would have been if they were prisoners of war. Tales of extraordinary heroism, and extraordinarily bad luck fill these pages: for instance, Private Joseph P. Martinez--a sugar beet farmer before he enlisted, single-handedly took out a Japanese machine gun nest that had him and his comrades pinned down under withering fire. Joe died, but was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On one terrible and very foggy night U. S. forces ran afoul of some Japanese booby traps and accidentally shot each other because they thought they were being attacked by a Japanese unit. Samantha Seiple has performed a great service in searching out the accounts of this little-known but perilous and important battle. Suitable for older elementary students on up.

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