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Staff Sergeant James A. Liccione, Sr.


I arrived in Alaska on the troopship USS President Polk in early February of 1942. I was present at Dutch Harbor, Alaska when the Japanese bombed the harbor and facilities on June 3rd and 4th of 1942. Two days later the Japanese Forces occupied the strategic islands of Attu and Kiska.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognized the need to construct air bases on key islands in the Aleutians to stop Japanese advances on American soil. The air bases were quickly constructed in record time and used very efficiently. Our main operational headquarters was rapidly established on Adak Island.

We encountered many hardships in the Aleutians including the brutal harsh weather and barren terrain of the Arctic region.

On May 11, 1943 recapture of Attu Island (code named: Sandcrab) went into effect. I was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division landing party; we experienced 19 days of blood bath skirmishes and encounters with the Japanese soldiers entrenched in the high ridges of the island.

Progress was slow for us; the Japanese had us pinned in the frozen terrain for days and our advancement was a very slow process. Gradually we advanced to high ground forcing the Japanese in a "banzai attack." The island of Attu was officially in American hands on May 30, 1943.

Our next objective was to recapture Kiska Island (code named: Operation Cottage). The invasion took place on August 15, 1943. The amphibious landings, used in the Kiska Invasion, would become the standard procedure used in later landings in Europe and Pacific Theaters. I received a Purple Heart Medal for Combat Wounds received in Action in 1943 in the Aleutians (Asiatic-Pacific).

August 24, 1943 marked the end of the Aleutian Campaign; with the Aleutian Islands firmly in American hands, many of the American soldiers were transferred and shipped to other units and destinations. I was reassigned to the 7th Infantry Division engaged in the Central Pacific Campaign (Mariana Islands,Marshall and Gilbert Islands), and in the Southern Pacific Campaign (Solomon Islands) and experiencing combat on many of these Pacific Islands.

Reflecting on the war I realize that I survived the Northern, Central and Southern Pacific Campaigns due to the extensive military training I received beginning when I enlisted in 1939 and was assigned to many units: the 1st Army, 77th Infantry Division, 52nd Coastal Artillery Battalion, 7th Coastal Artillery Battalion, 398th Quarter Master, 7th Infantry Division and the 195th Port Company IX Corps (4th Army - Alaska).

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