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Memorandum for the President
January 21, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Possibility of Attack on the Aleutian Islands and
Kodiak and Alaskan Mainland.
My dear Mr. President:
I received your note of January 20th, enclosing the temperature chart. Admiral King and I have talked the matter over and he has taken the chart for further study and stated that he would return it to you direct.
We have been anticipating at any moment a “destruction raid” on this region, especially at Dutch Harbor where our state of preparations is far from complete. Also there is the hazard of the destruction of barracks, storehouses, etc. at both Kodiak Island and Anchorage, which would involve a difficult situation in the winter period. As most of the construction is frame and of a temporary nature, it presents a serious fire hazard. General Buckner has been given the directions and has the funds, so far as they can be spent in that region in the winter, to prepare against such an eventuality. He is very resourceful and energetic, and with troop labor available, has undoubtedly decentralized his storage and otherwise improved the situation.1
As a later development, I consider it probable that if Japanese successes in other areas release ships and troops, a positive effort toward actual occupation of our Alaskan bases will be undertaken.
Our greatest difficulty has been to get a sufficient number of bomber and pursuit planes into Alaska. During the last three weeks a squadron of P-40 pursuit and a squadron of B-26 medium bombers, which had just been prepared for flying under conditions of extreme cold, were transferred to Alaska. Of these planes, up to the present time, 3 pursuit and 3 bombers have been lost or forced down en route due to bad weather conditions. The leading flights of these planes have reached the Yukon district of Alaska where weather conditions should be much better. Once the planes have reached the coast of Alaska, the principal flying hazard is fog.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Major General Simon B. Buckner, Jr., was commanding general of the Alaskan Defense Command.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 76.