Wally's Index

Wally Nadel
World War II in the Aleutians - Shemya (APO 729)
January 26, 1943 to January 27, 1946

1. Recap of Army Facilities

Ft. Benjamine Harrison, Indiana

Ft. McClellan - Anniston, Alabama

Camp Shenango - Pennsylvania

Ft. Lawton - Seattle, Washington

Fort Sheridan - Illinois

Port of Embarkation


2. Conscription - the Draft

3. Selection Process

4. Shemya

5. General S. B. Buckner, Jr.

6. Major A. Brindle

7. My Outfit

8. My Buddies

9. Supply Sergeant

10. Army Medical Experience

11. Civilian Contractors

12. Potpourri

13. Returning to the States

14. Coincidences

15. Unspoken Concerns



At the outbreak of WW II, the Japanese invaded Islands in the North and

South Pacific following the Pearl Harbor event.  Having destroyed almost

half our Pacific fleet, they felt emboldened to establish bases in strategic

places.  This included the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska in June of 1942

 as well as important bases in the South Pacific.  We recaptured Attu in May                      

of "43 and Kiska in August of "43.  This began the long wait for a reinvasion

which never occured.


Forty miles S.E. of Attu ( the westernmost Island in the Aleutians) was a small

group of three tiny dots on a map called the Simichi Islands.  It consisted of

the Islands of Agattu, Adelaid, and Shemya.  In November of 1943, Shemya

was to be my home for 26 months.


Like most of the Islands leading west of Alaska, with the Bering Sea at the North,

and the Atlantic Ocean to the South, they were the tips of volcanic mountains

coming out of the ocean floor - consisting of volcanic ash and "tundra" - devoid

of shrubs and trees, windswept most of the time, with sparse vegetation and

having frequent earthquakes. There were sixty volcanoes along the chain,

a few of which were stll active.


Traces were found of the time when Russia owned Alaska, prior to 1877.

There were gravesites, a few old shacks, and a few blue fox which were

raised on the Island by Russian pioneers.  Sadly, the Russians almost wiped out

the seal population before we took possession.



There was no natural harbor, terrible "williwas" ie. unbelievable storms,

and at that time no aquifer for drinking water.  If there were any native

Aleuts on the Island, they were removed by the Japanese .  Likewise, the U.S.

evacuated Aleuts to the Alaskan Peninsula.


Going West for 400 miles, one would run into the Kamchatka Peninsula,

coming down from Siberia and 800 miles South East, the Kurile Isles.,

if you wanted to visit the Japanese Naval Base - Paramashiro. This was

where damaged warships were repaired and where their submarines would

spy on us and tell "Tokyo Rose" what we had for dinner.

Travel books tell us that Kamchatka has similar weather as the Aleutians as

well as over 100 volcanoes.

Dock destroyed during a storm.

Shemya was relatively flat, measuring 2 miles by 4 miles, and the Air Force

decided that it would make a great landing field for aircraft in trouble and for

more aggressive uses such as bombing Japan prior to an invasion. 

Dock being reconstructed after the storm.


Accordingly, it was occupied by approximately 2,000 personnel  + or -

(along with yours truly), consisting of 200 - 300 civilian contracters,

30 Navy (weather) personnel, 100 Army Engineers,  400 Air Force

men, and about 1,200 Army G.I.'s, which included about six female

Army Nurses - - - who were safely protected from the likes of us.

Wally Nadel and his transportation.

There were a few scares of large enemy fleets coming our way, but

they were just zig-zagging to fool the U.S. Navy as to where their true

destination was to be.


With the exception of a few dozen graves caused by accidents, plane

problems, one suicide, etc., the rest of us are thankful that we returned



There was a TV special in mid-2006 about the Aleutians, and also about

Shemya.  Although it is primarily military, it's occasionally used as a

 refueling spot for some commercial flights going to the Orient.


Presently, it now has sophisticated radar,  coupled with satellites, which

is an important part of our National Defence System.


At last report, the Army Commanding Officer in charge of the Shemya

installation is a female Colonel.

A frequent occurance - whales washing ashore during bad storms.

© Wally Nadel 2007

Dr. Will R. Eubank - Adak 1943    Map of Alaska