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"The biggest enemy was frostbite." (Video interview, 15:25)

   Paul Edward Plesha
Collection image
Paul Plesha at time of interview
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 184th Infantry, 37th Infantry, 148th Infantry
Service Location: Camp San Luis Obispo, California; San Diego, California; Aleutian Islands; Dutch Harbor (Alaska); Camp Hood, Texas
Rank: First Sergeant
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Arriving at Dutch Harbor at midnight in June, 1942, First Sergeant Paul Plesha barely had time to sleep before he woke to the sound of a ship firing--and the start of combat with the Japanese. In recounting the battle, he recalls instances of losing men under his command, friendly fire, and enemy planes flying so close to the ground that he could see the pilot’s face. He spent the next 20 months in the Aleutians, coping with frigid conditions and lack of infrastructure, before returning to the States.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (44 min.)
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»Aleutian Islands: WWII’s Unknown Campaign
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Arriving at Dutch Harbor at midnight the night before the attack; waking to gunfire. (01:47) Formulating a battle plan; staying close to the ground; losing one man; watching a Japanese Zero plan fly overhead and seeing the pilot’s face. (03:21) Background on invasion of Attu. (01:50)
Sent back to Attu; landing unopposed; high rate of friendly fire because his troops weren’t expected; losing two men. (04:11)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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