Cold Bay, Alaska

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Cold Bay (Udaamagax[2] in Aleut) is a city in Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 88 at the 2000 census, and only 76 in 2009.[3]

Cold Bay is one of the main commercial centers of the Alaska Peninsula, and is home to Cold Bay Airport.

Contents

History

There is evidence of prehistoric occupation by Aleuts and later Russian encampments. Cold Bay's American history began with the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians in World War II. General Simon Bolivar Buckner ordered the creation of Fort Randall, an airbase on the shores of Cold Bay, in 1942 as a part of a general expansion of American assets in the Aleutians.[4] It (along with Otter Point) served as a base for the 11th Air Force to provide protection to the only deep water port in the Aleutians at the time, Dutch Harbor. This protection was proved necessary when during Yamamoto's Midway Campaign a diversionary attack was launched against Dutch Harbor. The initial attack was repulsed by the surprise presence of P-40s stationed here. A second larger attack with its own fighter escort the next day succeeded in causing minor damage.[5] Later, with the victory in the Pacific, the forces grew to 20,000 troops. The quonset huts used to house this massive encampment still stand around the community today.

In later decades, control of the airfield passed to civil authorities who maintained it as a particularly useful location for fuelling and emergency landing needs on great circle flights from the west coast of the US to eastern Asia. A DEW line station was established nearby and eventually was decommissioned.

During the Ronald Reagan era, privatization of the airline industry caused many of the compelling interests supporting the need for the community to evaporate. Today, Cold Bay functions as a hub for traffic from Anchorage and Seattle to the small communities around it, and continues to serve as an emergency runway for aircraft flying through the North Pacific.

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