Two Arkansas National Guard units – the Two Hundred Sixth Coast Artillery and One Hundred Fifty Third Infantry Regiments – fought World War II in an often-overlooked arena of the Pacific Theater: Alaska.
U.S. troops and Japanese forces each established bases in the Aleutian Islands to head off operations against their respective homelands. The Japanese bombed the base of the Two Hundred Sixth at Dutch Harbor in 1942 and U.S. troops fought a fierce battle at Attu in 1943 that saw more than twenty-three hundred Japanese soldiers killed and more than sixteen hundred American casualties.
The American experience in Alaska became known as the Williwaw War, named for the violent winds and abysmal rain, snow and fog that accompanied it. With more than two hundred days of rain in a typical year and temperatures hovering in the thirties, soldiers drowned in high seas, crashed or were lost in the fog, or were killed by wind-blown debris, and suicides were reported in appalling numbers.
To learn more about the Arkansas National Guard's involvement in the Williwaw War, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.