World War II in the Aleutians - Shemya (APO 729)
October 1943 to December 1945
Walter Nadel, passed away from COVID-19 on April 17, 2020. Although his short-term memory failed him, his Army years stayed sharp in his mind. Our family is grateful to you for providing the website for him to chronicle his own personal experience during his service.
He was an amateur historian, and had great enjoyment in sharing information and history as he experienced it. I hope that the website can remain for generations to read.
He died at age 95, and the number of WWII vets continues to sadly decrease. His Army photo hangs on the "Wall of Heroes" at the rehab center in Natick, Massachusetts where he lived for the last two years of his life. He was alert, walking and reading until just days before he died.
1. Recap of Army Facilities
7. My Outfit
8. My Buddies
(1st email - December 28, 2006)
I was stationed on Shemya (APO 729) between Oct. 43 and Dec. 45.
(2nd email continued December 28, 2006)
We had a small detachment of troops (24 of us) who left Seattle on Oct. 3, 1944 on a tanker filled with about 1 million gallons of high octane airplane gas.
Going through Puget Sound, across the Gulf of Alaska, out into the Pacific and the Bering Sea took us about 24 days. On that trip, we pulled into "safe" ports frequently since there were Japanese subs in the area. Among those stops were Seward, Cold Bay, Kiska, and Attu.
At Attu, the 24 of us transferred to a sea-going tug to go to Shemya which was only 40 miles away. The seas were very heavy. Accordingly, we made 8 attempts over 3 days to safely get over a sand bar to disembark.
Our first night there was memorable - - - - 60 to 70 mile winds blew down our hastily constructed tents, no meals waited for us, and in the morning we were told that we only had three 105 howitzers protecting us from an invasion, and only one was functioning.
Over the following 26 months, there was always the thought that things had to get better (but not much). We also were reminded that the Japanese naval base - Paramishiro, in the Kurile Islands, was only 800 miles away.
We felt lucky however. While touring Attu, we lost many GI's clearing the Japanese off. No doubt, you heard of the fiasco on Kiska. We bombed the Island for two weeks, invaded, discovered that the Japanese were evacuated a few nights before - - - then with American troops coming in from the South, and Canadian troops from the North - - - started to shoot at each other. These are stories the public at home are never told about. In any case if you ever go to Kiska, you may want to pay respects to about 18 or 20 graves.
Likewise, if you ever make it to Shemya, there's another cemetary, primarily pilots lost in the fog or shot up.
I'll go through my little photo album to see if there are any duplicates and see if there are any interesting and "reproduceable" snapshots.
My best to you - Wally Nadel
© Wally Nadel 2007
Dr. Will R. Eubank - Adak 1943 Map of Alaska