Small World

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Dec., 2011

Hi Sandy, I spent the Sunday before Veteranís Day with my Dad and Mom. We attended their church that Sunday because it was holding a Veteranís celebration. It was pretty nice, but the reason for writing is about the man I met while we were at lunch after the service. He is a friend of my dad's who also attends church there. His name is "Dink" Dugan and did he have a yarn to spin.

Seems Dink was drafted into the Army in 42 and after basic training he found himself in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. His story begins with the aerial bombing of the base right after he had arrived. It was a major effort by the Japanese and it killed around 25 men and wounded twice that many with considerable damage to the structures on base. They immediately went on "Alert" and he was on a machine gun overlooking the base from a hillside.

Knowing that the Japs had two bases in the Aleutians, they expected to be attacked shortly after the bombing. Not long after, they were told that the Japs were sending an invasion force to reinforce their garrisons and eventually attack Dutch Harbor. Then, next they heard..... you know how rumors fly... that the U.S. Navy was sending a task force to battle the Jap fleet and keep them from landing their troops. Dink could not remember how long he and his friends manned those guns in the hills, but he said suddenly there was whooping and shouting from the base below and eventually a messenger got to him and told him that our fleet had defeated the Japanese and there would be no invasion. The Japs had turned back.

He said that was the best news he had during his whole time in Alaska. He was still at his Machine Gun post when the Salt Lake City, slowly steamed into Dutch Harbor. He said she looked battle weary and damaged, sitting very low in the water and going very slow. He then said that he started hearing cheering from the other machine gun posts around him and he joined in. I doubt if any of the SLC crew knew they were being cheered by the Army boys, but they were. Dink said that he and his buddies tried to make the SLC crew at home and gave them anything wanted. He wanted to be sure I understood that at that moment in time, the Salt Lake City and her crew were the heroes of the Pacific in their eyes. I kept looking at my dad during this story as he laughed a lot and at times added his two cents, but I sure had a good time listening to the great Battle of the Aleutiansí again, from a different perspective.

Dave McGougan, son of SLC Veteran Arch McGougan


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