75 years later, ‘forgotten’ WWII battle haunts soldiers

In this May 19, 2018, photo World War II veteran Joseph Sasser, of Carthage, Miss., attends a 75th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Attu in Anchorage, Alaska. Dover was an American soldier who took part in the May 1943 effort to reclaim Alaska’s Attu Island from the Japanese. It was the only World War II battle fought on North American soil. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The only World War II battle fought on North American soil was waged 75 years ago this month on Attu Island in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Japan had invaded both Attu and Kiska islands in 1942.

American forces began the 19-day campaign to reclaim Attu in May 1943. It is known as the forgotten battle of World War II.

American forces reclaimed the island May 30, 1943. But the deciding battle started a day earlier when dwindling Japanese forces staged a last-ditch attack on American forces at Engineer Hill. About 200 of the soldiers died, and another 500 Japanese forces committed suicide rather than being taken prisoner.

In the end, about 2,500 Japanese died on Attu Island, and only 28 were taken as POWs. About 550 American forces were killed.

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