My dad, Jerry Dubuque, passed away last September , but not before I had the honor of reading and transcribing his memoirs. Not surprisingly, the thickest chapter was that of his experience serving our country during World War II. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands for three years, headquartered on Shemya. Like many other young men there, it was a long ways from family, home and the sheltered life of this French Canadian young man. He left behind his wife, Ginny, who would give birth to his daughter, Joanne, in his absence. A baby girl he would not see for three years. His was not a unique situation, but one that was experienced by many of our soldiers. Although we were told stories off and on about his time spent there, reading what he had written made it all the more real to us. My dad was a man of morals, dignity and honesty, yet I must say that his sense of humor was his most outstanding attribute. The following is an excerpt from his chapter:“Having to carry a camera case, gas mask and rifle wasn’t too easy. There’s a story that goes with this situation. I tried to get a .45 caliber pistol to carry instead of a rifle, but couldn’t get one issued to me. Not being an officer that is. So, I wrote to Ginny and asked her to send me an item I had in the top drawer of our bureau. It was a .32 caliber pistol. I couldn’t come right out and say what I wanted, because our mail was censored. She understood, and not long afterward, I received a package and the pistol was in it. However, no bullets. Well, I wrote
back and, again, my mail was checked out so I had to be careful what I wrote. I asked her for the .32 shorts that were next to the item I had just received from her. In the next mail, my package was received and, there were the .32 shorts – boxer shorts, that is!! Needless to say, I kept carrying the rifle.”It would have been terrific if the technology of the Internet was available years ago. Perhaps these veterans would have been able to connect and communicate more successfully. My dad kept in touch with a couple of his buddies, but eventually (like so many of us), lost track. He did get a chance to see his story on BOOZER posted on the Shemya web site, and got such a kick out of it. I remember him sitting here, shaking his head back and forth, saying “I’ll be damned, look at that...just look at that!” My parents lived in Haverhill, MA; Keene, NH; Dunellen, FL; and retired to Henniker, NH, where they celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary two months before his death. On behalf of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, I wish to thank George Smith for the opportunity to honor my father in this way. Thank you.JEANNE DUBUQUE STERLING
1. This aerial photo, taken from the western part of Shemya looking towards Attu, which in turn is located about 35 miles to the west of Shemya.
2. The runway is being plowed...see the plume of snow near the top center of the photo.
3. This photo shows the adverse conditions we had to work around. The Base Photo Lab is the building below the sign. The runway was being built, which you can detect in the upper part of the photo where the trucks are lined up. The tent to the right of the photo is the Officer's Mess Kitchen.
4. We had one great mishap in all the time I spent there (3 years). As the photo shows, a C47 is damaged quite badly. As I recall, one early morning, a bomber group was taking off for a mission over the Islands. One of the B24's got hit with a bad cross wind and knocked it off its course, slamming it into a line of C47's. There were several casualties. My living quarters were just below the edge of where the B24 rested.
5. Note the three Shemya Blue Fox lined up. Eventually, all foxes had to be shipped to Alaid, the next closest island west of Shemya. [A 2008 guestimate was that there were still approximately 100 Blue Fox left on Shemya]
6. A corporal with his Blue Fox friend, also named Boozer. The pup was raised by the Corporal after being rescued from under our hut. As he grew, he became quite fond of 3.2 beer. Thus, the name "Boozer."
8. A USO troop arrived one time, consisting of Errol Flynn, Martha O'Driscoll, Henry Mendoza The Magic Man, Jimmy Dodd (of Mouseketeer fame). Captain Madden of the Navy is standing in the rear. I don't know the names of the others. [Can anyone ID the rest of the folks in the photo?]
11. Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, WW-1 Flying Ace (The "Hat In The Ring" Squadron of SPAD biplanes), visits Shemya as a combination morale booster and official observer of the war's progress. He wrote, "The Aleutian Islands was our coldest and dreariest military front, closer to Japan than to the continental United States. We had to stay there to keep the Japanese out."