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The Japanese Attack
In 1936, Japan withdrew from the five-nation Washington Naval Disarmament Treaty of 1922, which limited the size of participants' warships. As Japan built up their naval strength, the Aleutians became vulnerable to attack.
Early in the morning on June 3, 1942, the Japanese flew toward Fort Mears and for 20 minutes dropped bombs on the base. The air attack continued the following day as the Japanese blew up fuel tanks and gun emplacements in the naval airbase at Dutch Harbor. Over two days, forty-five Americans died. One Japanese plane was shot down.
Life From the Sea (Part V)
The US Responds
It took nearly a year for the Allies to push the Japanese out of the Aleutians. The US built naval and air bases as close as possible to the islands held by the Japanese. After successfully retaking Attu and Kiska, they built bases on Attu and Shemya and launched air attacks on Japan's home islands.
The US military feared the Japanese would move eastward across the Aleutian Chain, and in late June of 1942, they began mandatory evacuation of the 881 Unangan who lived along the Aleutian Chain and in the Pribilofs. Each wave of evacuation--three in all--was treated as an emergency.