Former Alaska Territorial Guard Member Honored
Last Frontier Honor Flight Program Sends Veterans to Washington, D.S.
Twenty-three Alaskan veterans of World War II and the Korean War traveled to Washington, D.C. this past October, courtesy of the Last Frontier Honor Flight program. These veterans and their chaperones toured national monuments including the WWII Memorial. One of the participants was Johnnie Ticket Sr. of Selawik, a proud member of the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG). Johnnie’s daughter Lillie Ticket accompanied him.
The ATG, also known as the Eskimo Scouts, was a military reserve force component of the U.S. Army with a mission to play a defensive role for the entire coast of Alaska. Formed in 1942 in response to attacks on U.S. soil in Hawaii and occupation of parts of Alaska by Japanese troops during World War II, the ATG operated until 1947.
The territory’s Governor Ernest Gruening served as Commander-in-Chief of the ATG, assisted by the U.S. Army’s Major Marston and Captain Schreibner. Gruening and “Muktuk” Marston traversed the state recruiting volunteers, traveling by every available mode of transport including airplane, boat, snowmobile, foot and dogsled.
An official roster lists 6,368 volunteers who served without pay, in addition to a paid staff of 21 (the staff was composed of non-Natives). The volunteers, including some women, came from 107 communities and a variety of ethnic groups including Aleut, Athabaskan, White, Inupiaq, Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Yupik. As volunteers, ATG members were those that were too young or too old to be drafted during WWII. Member ages at enrollment ranged from 80 years old to as young as 12.
Providing most of their own gear and food and braving severe weather conditions, the ATG served many vital strategic purposes to the entire Allied effort during WWII. They safeguarded the only source of the strategic metal platinum in the western hemisphere against Japanese attack, they secured the terrain around the vital Lend-Lease air route between the U.S. and Russia, and they placed and maintained survival caches primarily along transportation corridors and coastal regions.
After disbanding the program the ATG members were basically forgotten about and not given any formal military status, despite their loyal service. However, in 2000, thanks to a bill sponsored by former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, all ATG members were granted full U.S. veteran status by law, finally acknowledging the contribution of the ATG.
For more information about this unique organization, read Marvin Marston’s book, Men of the Tundra: Alaska Eskimos at War.
Last Frontier Honor Flight Program
The Last Frontier Honor Flight program is part of a nationwide program with a mission to honor and thank our veterans, our greatest treasures that answered our nation’s call. The program is run by volunteers and depends on donations to provide all-expense trips for the veterans. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.lastfrontierhonorflight.com.
Photo caption: Former ATG member Johnnie Ticket of Selawik participated in the Last Frontier Honor Flight, accompanied by his daughter Lillie Ticket.