1943 - 1945

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I served on Shemya from 11/43 to 7/45. I had a  45 day furlough in July, 1945, after which I was scheduled to return to Shemya. However the war ended while I was home. I got an early out 11/5/45 because I had a bunch of discharge points and because there was not enough transport to get the really high point guys home from the PTO or Europe. In fact, many didn't get home until '46.

A one-time event in US History occurred when an Anchorage-based Federal Judge Diamond and his clerk were flown 1200 miles down the Aleutian chain to Attu to conduct Naturalization procedures for those who had served honorably with the United States Armed Forces and who were 21 years of age or older. The photo below (#19) shows a photo of me during this process, where I had my first conversation with a female in over 2 years. However, it was brief. She said, "sign here Corporal" and I said "Yes Ma'am." Prior to this happening, I had to get documentation from my father back in Michigan that we had entered the United States legally.

We traveled to Attu by Army barge and I was accompanied by our Company Captain and 1st Sergeant. We returned to Shemya by barge and I had an opportunity to try out my anti-seasick pills. The first anti-seasick medication was developed by the University of Toronto for the Canadian Navy whose main mission was escorting convoys in their small Corvette class DEs. One of my 1st cousins was a Surgeon Commander, in the Canadian Navy, and he sent a bottle of these pills to me and my cousin Lorne who was an Ensign in the US Navy serving on a DE in the South Pacific. The label on the bottle indicated these pills came directly from the University lab. The sea was very rough on our return trip to Shemya and I had secretly taken a couple of these pills. They worked like a charm and I was really impressed. In fact, we had a greasy dinner on board and before long guys were hanging over the railing unloading their dinners. I never used them again because a few weeks later, we were given 45 day furloughs and were flown home in C-457s. The Flint (MI) Journal published my story without using the photo. I am one of ten men in the history of the United States whose citizenship certificate indicates I was a resident of Shemya and I was naturalized on Attu.

Ian Beaton

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[Editor's Notes: Ian, like many stationed in the Aleutians during WWII, spent time on several of the islands. You'll find other pages with photos from Ian on this web site as well through a "Site Search." Ian also authored the book "They Also Serve," found on our site's Bibliography page. Click on the thumbnail images below to retrieve the full-size image. Click on your browser's "Back" button to return to this page.]


#1. General's quarters on Shemya. The AF General's house built by Force Utilities. On special occasions, the General would throw a party. My buddy, Bob Hunniford, leader of the "Jive Bombers" Combo would provide the music. To help even up the male/female relationship, B-24s collected nurses from nearby bases to attend the function along with Shemya nurses.
#2. Captain Reger, Post Engineer, formerly of the 50th Engineers which helped build the Alcan Highway.
  #3. Post Engineer George Cox next to our Headquarters Sign in 1945. The inscription next to the "Women" category reads "Atchd for Rations - 3"

#4. Our "utilities" in 1943 and early 1944. Fuel oil for our hut heaters and water to wash, usually accomplished by filling up your helmet and heating the water on the oil stove.
  #5. Shemya "Beach Defenses" on the Pacific side. We would have been an easy target for Japanese raiding parties.
  #6. Ian Beaton in his "casual" uniform.
#7 Ian Beaton on watch.
#8. Ian in his office, slaving away over tedious documentation.
#9. Martha O'Driscoll, a gorgeous "B" movie blonde on the right, visiting Shemya. Unknown person on the left. Martha would have been around 22 years old at this time.
#10. Post Engineer's new mess hall. Edward Alig from Detroit is on the right.

#11. Post Engineer warehousemen, Francis Gallagher on the left and Bob ? on the right.
#12. Early on, Shemya's only protection from Japanese bombers was an AA Coast Artillery unit with 4ea 90MM guns. which if the attackers came in at low level, the 90s would be useless. To help correct this problem, the post engineer was given 2ea 20MM AA guns and 2ea 50 Caliber water cooled machine guns. Because I was a trained infantry machine gunner, I was the chief gunner on one of the 20s. We practiced firing at a sleeve pulled by a brightly painted B-26. However, one day the B-26 crashed on takeoff and was totaled. The crew escaped without injury. From then on, we fired at whales which could be seen passing Shemya frequently. To my knowledge, no whales were ever hit and the Japanese never attacked Shemya
#13.Building Shemya's long runway...in preparation for anticipated B-29 landings and takeoffs from Shemya.
#14. Sgt. Red Thorpe, Post Engineer, Shemya.
#15. Easter Church services, 1945 in the new movie theater.
#16. Church services, Shemya.
#17. Celebration of the opening of the Post Engineer mess hall. Bob Hunniford (on drums) was the leader of the "Jive Bombers." The guy in front had just come back from an emergency furlough and was demonstrating how folks back in the States got clean by taking something called a "bath" in a tub. It was funny!
#18. Aleutian buddies, Post Engineer, (L to R) Bill Benham, Walter Hickey and Ian Beaton
#19. The first conversation Ian had with a female in over two years was when he was asked to "sign here" during his citizenship application and naturalization process on Attu.
#20. Post Engineer Mail Clerk Tom Barron, sitting in his jeep with Ian Beaton on the left. Tom later rolled his jeep and ended up in the hospital for a short stay.
#21. Ian sitting on the cot in his hut.
#22. Russian Sailor's graves, Shemya.

Last Updated: 13 Aug 2016 10:52