World War II contains some of history’s most famous and bloodiest battles. But one battle that is often overlooked in the history books is the battle of Attu. Fought on the freezing shores of the Aleutian islands, American and Canadian forces battled to take back American territory that had been seized in one of the first invasions of the United States since the war of 1812. The cold, damp conditions made frostbite just as much of a threat as Japanese artillery.
The battle ended when Japanese soldiers charged through American lines, in a last stand that included furious hand-to-hand combat. All but 30 Japanese soldiers fought to the death.
The third episode contains Ralph Eyde’s account of fighting in that battle with the 7th Infantry Division. He received a Purple Heart for his bravery, even as his unit was sent straight on to train for their next battle.
Frank, the oldest of the Eyde brothers, begins fighting a different kind of battle. After his experience fighting at Tulagi, he was on his way home to get treated for malaria and jaundice, when he began experiencing paranoia.
At the time, what he had was diagnosed as “combat fatigue” and then later, schizophrenia. PTSD wouldn’t be recognized until decades later, and the letters Frank writes in this episode and the next show how little the lasting effects of war were understood.
Voice actors: Michael Ball (Ralph), Zachary Burgart (Frank), Jeff Chiang (John), Brendan Wentz (Sanford).
The actors in this podcast are all veterans themselves. They join Dan to discuss their experiences reading the letters, and what is universal about the story of the Eyde family.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Back at home, Ralph and Frank struggle to recover and readjust to civilian life. Meanwhile, as the Allies move towards victory, John’s role in the war is just about to begin.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017