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History, Geography, & Military Discuss Castner's Cutthroats at the Political Forums; During WWII, the U.S. military employed the services of Eskimos and Aleuts to help them defeat the Japanese. The logic ...

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Old 11-06-2011, 04:21 PM
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Default Castner's Cutthroats

During WWII, the U.S. military employed the services of Eskimos and Aleuts to help them defeat the Japanese. The logic was, these men were experts at survival in the harsh conditions.

They were instrumental in defeating the Japanese at the Battle of the Aleutian Islands.

There is a tremendous book titled, Castner's Cutthroats - Saga of the Alaskan Scouts, that is a very good read.

Castner's Cutthroats was the unofficial name for the 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon (Provisional), also known as Alaskan Scouts. Castner's Cutthroats fought during World War II and were instrumental in defeating the Japanese during the Battle of the Aleutian Islands.

The brainchild of Colonel Lawrence V. Castner, an Army intelligence officer serving in General Simon Bolivar Buckner's Alaskan Defense Command, the band was organized in order to create a unit that was fully functional with only minimal outfitting. Castner chose men skilled at flourishing in the tough conditions of the Alaskan wilderness including the native Aleuts and Eskimos, sourdough prospectors, hunters, trappers and fishermen. Their background in survival and hunting made them ideal scouts. Hard and dangerous men, they often had names in keeping with their unit's nickname, such as Bad Whiskey Red, Aleut Pete and Waterbucket Ben. Appreciating their unique talents, Col. Castner did not enforce standard military procedures on his unit, who gave themselves the name "Cutthroats" in honor of their irregular status. They were given a great deal of freedom in order to get the job done.

The commanding officer chosen to lead Castner's Cutthroats was Captain Robert H. Thompson, a Montana State University football star from Moccasin, Montana. Thompson was hugely popular with his men and developed a deep love of Alaska. After leaving the Castner's Cutthroats, he stayed in Alaska as a guide, hunter and bush pilot until his accidental death in 1955.

He was joined in early 1942 by Lt. Earl C. Acuff, a University of Idaho graduate and rival football player. Acuff had been stationed on a remote Aleutian island to spy on Japanese planes. After several months went by without hearing from him, the army charged Castner's Cutthroats with recovery of his body. When they found him alive and well, he was quickly transferred to the Alaskan Scouts.

"I was living like a king. I was diving for king crab and eating fresh seafood and fowl -- wild ptarmigan, ducks and geese -- for dinner. They told me not to break radio sound unless I saw a Japanese plane, so I didn't. When the Alaskan Scouts came to 'rescue' me, they started thinking that maybe they'd like to stay with me." - Lt Acuff
Castner's Cutthroats - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 11-06-2011, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: Castner's Cutthroats

I've seen a couple of documentaries on the Alaska Natives contribution to the Aleutian campaign during WW II, but haven't read that book.

I think I'll get it.
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