Chapter 6: Occupation of Amchitka
The transport group for the occupation of Amchitka was commanded by Capt. Paul K. Perry, USCG, while Army forces were under Brig. Gen. Jones. Transport and cargo vessels were the Arthur Middleton (Capt. Perry), the Army transport Delarof, the merchant ship Lakona, and the cargo vessel Vega (Comdr. Arthur C. Smith), while protection was provided by the destroyers Dewey (Lt. Comdr. Joseph P. Canty), Gillespie (Comdr. Chester L. Clement), and Kalk (Comdr. Charles T. Singleton, Jr.). Rear Admiral John W. Reeves, Jr., commanded the Alaskan Sector Escort Group of one gunboat, one minesweeper, and three fast minesweepers, while Rear Admiral McMorris commanded the Striking Group, Indianapolis (now commanded by Capt. Nicholas Vytlacil), Raleigh, Detroit, and four destroyers. On 4 January, Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid relieved Rear Admiral Theobald in supreme command.
12 January 1943
On the 12th troops were landed in Constantine Harbor from the Arthur Middleton without opposition, but the transport later went aground, undergoing some damage and considerable delay in unloading. She was not refloated until the end of the month.
The enemy's only reaction to the occupation of Amchitka was a series of minor air attacks, which began on 24 January with his discovery of our occupation, and continued into February. Meanwhile our growing air power hammered Kiska and Japanese shipping whenever the severe winter weather would permit. Considerable attention was devoted to the incomplete fighter strips which aerial photos had discovered on Kiska and Attu on 19 January.13
On 17 February Warhawks and Lightnings landed on our new Amchitka fighter strip, constructed under the most arduous conditions. Thereupon the enemy's light bombings ceased. The occupation of Amchitka, like that of Adak, permitted acceleration of our bombing campaign and improved our reconnaissance. Within two months thereafter, the enemy's supply problems had been rendered practically insoluble.
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Lack of heavy equipment and constant harassment by our forces prevented the completion of either strip, although it later developed that they had been scheduled to become operative early in the spring.
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