National Geographic : 1983 Sep
Although it was spring, the light rain of early morning thickened to snow and began falling sideways, driven by a stiff Aleutian wind. The battlefield, still pockmarked from bombs, mortar fire, and hastily dug en trenchments, was an uphill march. Bush, 73, lapsed into uncharacteristic si lence as he led the way. In his old GI jacket and carrying a battered rucksack, he looked much as he must have under fire on a morn ing four decades earlier, on May 29, 1943. After almost three weeks of bitter fight ing, the Japanese had been forced to retreat. Jim Bush awakened early to direct road building necessary for the final assault. Then, in one last desperate attempt to seize U. S. supplies and weapons, a banzai force of about 800 charged Bush's encamp ment of 600 Americans. "We engineers hadn't thought that we'd have to fight. They killed about 80 of our people, and they just didn't stop coming. You had to give them credit. They were fa natic but brave. "The first man I shot, I knew I killed him because I saw the shot dent his coat, and I was elated. But later. ... " Aleutian Islands LONGEST RANGE of active volcanoes in the United States stretches to within 600 miles of the Asian mainland. Unalaska lies on the great-circleroute from Seattle to Tokyo. Perhaps16,000 Aleuts lived on these isles in 1741 when explorer Vitus Bering came ashore.Russian fur traderswho took sea mammals for the Chinamarket soon lived like Aleuts. Though part of the Alaska Purchaseof 1867, the chain drew few new settlers until after 175sWorld War II. Of today's 8,500 residents,more thanhalf are tied to the military. MOL Atka Seguam . Island Amlia 1. ISLANDS cean *~~~ L...E U....-.-**' T*-*-**- I A. N..*.r Later, as a civilian, Bush had returned personal effects to the family of the Japanese officer, and learned that he had been an en gineer like himself. Bush was haunted by similarities in their backgrounds. "Do you know the poet Sir Henry New bolt?" he asked me. To count the life of battle good And dearthe land that gave you birth, And deareryet the brotherhood That binds the brave of all the earth. Nor was Bush the only survivor thinking in those terms. A week later on Unalaska, I attended the dedication of a monument to those who had died in the Aleutians cam paign. It was a different place from the one I had seen on my first visit in the early 1970s. Then the once proud center of the Aleut nation was struggling to survive. Local in dustry was virtually nonexistent. Dutch Harbor, the magnificent port that fronts the settlement, stood idle, surrounded by a wel ter of abandoned military installations, which Aleuts were forbidden to scavenge or clean up because the government had not decided the future of the base. Last Aleutian island to break the sea's surface, Bogoslof-only a ship-size pinnacle when discovered in 1768-is one the most active of the chain's 46 volcanoes. Dutch Harbor Makushin Volcano S Bogoslof 1. ,6 m 333ft Makushi Okmok Caldera Anderson Bay Umnak Island At. Vsevidof -Kast ISLANDS 2,164 m Chernofski OFFOUR - 7,0Oft INTAI kolski PartovCove Yunaska I. Chuginadak 0 Island Akutan \ bP0 oi The Aleutian Trench marks the p plate beneath the North Amer plate, causing heat that fuels A Frequent eruptions and e r " mark this unstable 341 of the Pacific :ontinental n volcanoes. sE N !