Attu’s radio operator and handyman, Charles Foster Jones, was executed (his wife was told he committed suicide) during the invasion and his wife Etta, the island’s schoolteacher, taken prisoner. Mr. Jones is the only non-military-related civilian buried in the military cemetery at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in Anchorage.
|Etta Jones' story|
Click to order
The Aleut (Unangan) villagers were also considered prisoners of war and confined to the immediate vicinity of the village. The Japanese fearing that they would become a fifth column, shipped them to Northern Japan in September. They were lodged in the small rooms of dormitory for single employees of the National Railroad in Wakatake-Cho, Otaru City in Hokkaido.
Of the 42 Aleut captives sent to Japan, 16 (40%) died from disease and starvation.
Half of these Native Alaskans -- twenty -- were already suffering from advanced tuberculosis. Their symptoms had been diminished by the hi-protein and hi-calorie diet (salmon, seal and whale) of Attu, but quickly resurfaced due to poor hygienic conditions on the ship and inadequate nutrition in the Japanese diet.
|Aleut survivor's story|
click to order
The battlefield area on Attu was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns and manages Attu as a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
For the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Attu, award-winner Japanese director Tadashi OGAWA premiered a documentary on the invasion, When The Fog Clears.
Records show at least 12 Alaskans were POWs of Japan. Mrs. Jones and the 42 Aleuts are not counted among them. None of the prisoners received compensation from either Japan or the United States.