Camp San Luis Obispo dedicated the 12,000 capacity Camp Amphitheater on Memorial Day 70 years ago after a formal parade. In San Luis Obispo services began with a 9 a.m. event at the IOOF Lawn cemetery where speaker of the day was Judge Ray B. Lyon.
As flags unfurled and bands played at home, American troops were engaged in a new fight on Fishhook Ridge above the cloud line on Attu Island.
It is the westernmost of Aleutian Island chain which stretches 1,200 miles from Alaska between the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean. The volcanic islands are home to fickle weather including frequent fog, rainfall and wind.
The Japanese had taken Attu and Kiska in May 1942 an attempt to divert American attention from their main thrust at Midway Island. Though the main attack on Midway resulted in disaster for the Japanese, the diversion captured American territory and on May 11, 1943 American troops came to take back the territory. The initial landing was unopposed but eventually 15,000 Americans would be involved against an over 2,000 man Japanese force dug in on the island.
Here as on Guadalcanal fighting would be fierce and the Japanese code of honor precluded surrender. Only 24 Japanese prisoners would be captured, and 2,350 would be killed.
The battle for the island would end with a mass attack by over 400 Japanese on American positions. American casualties included 552 killed, 1,140 wounded and many hundreds sent to hospital by weather related injury.
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