"65 years ago today at 12:30 AM, Grandpa returned home from Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. Uncle Ted picked him up in Carbondale where he had arrived by bus from Indian Town Gap via Scranton. What I remember is being awakened in the middle of the night, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, and Grandpa giving me a Hershey bar from his duffelbag. The bag was stenciled with his service number Burdick---B 33849309."
What a great Christmas present that must have been for my family.
In my quick online research this morning, I found some more information on the lives of US servicemen in the Aleutians. It definitely sounds like there was a lot more going on than what anyone in my family ever let on.
Soldier in front of Headquarters of Companies E and F, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry, Arkansas Army National Guard, on Umnak Island, in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1942.
(not my Grandfather's outfit; he was from Pennsylvania)
photo from wikipedia
I don't know what unit he was in, but I know my grandfather was in the Army Corps of Engineers. I think I remember my mom saying that he helped build bridges to help the Army gain access to as much territory as possible. It was always made to sound like he didn't see any action; until today I didn't know that the Japanese had actually taken a few of the islands. Now I wonder what he saw and did, and how he felt about it. Like many of his generation, he was a very stoic man; he didn't like to talk about any suffering or trials he may have endured.
I don't have any pictures of my grandfather in uniform, or in the Aleutians. I'm sure there are some, somewhere, but I don't have access to them.