Eleventh Air Force History
(This is an excerpt from the Elmendorf Air Force Base website)
The Alaskan Air Force was activated on Elmendorf Field 15 January 1942 to manage the buildup of the Army Air Forces in Alaska. It was redesignated the Eleventh Air Force on 5 February 1942.
Following the Japanese bombing of Dutch Harbor in the eastern Aleutian Islands and the occupation of Attu and Kiska in the western Aleutians in early June 1942, the Eleventh Air Force launched an air offensive against the Japanese on the two islands.
Missions were flown initially from Cape Field on Umnak Island in the eastern Aleutians and later from fields built on Adak and Amchitka. Headquarters Eleventh Air Force was moved to Davis Field, Adak in early 1943. Attu was retaken in May 1943, and the Japanese withdrew their garrison from Kiska in late July.
The Aleutian Campaign ended with the reoccupation of Kiska on 15 August 1943. Primarily an air war, it was the only World War II campaign fought on North American soil. The Eleventh Air Force flew 297 missions and dropped 3,662.00 tons of bombs. One hundred and fourteen men were killed in action, another forty-two were reported missing in action and forty-six died as a result of accidents.
Thirty-five aircraft were lost to combat and another 150 to operational accidents. It was the highest American combat-to-operational loss ratio of the war. Weather was the prime culprit.
The Eleventh Air Force accounted for approximately 60 Japanese aircraft, one destroyer, one submarine and seven transport ships destroyed by air operations.
Following the occupation of Kiska, the Eleventh Air Force declined from peak strength of 16,526 in August 1943 to 6,849 by the end of the war. For the remainder of the war, it flew bombing and reconnaissance missions against Japanese military installations in the northern Kurile Islands from Attu and Shemya Islands. The first land based bombing mission of the World War II against the Japanese home islands was launched from Attu on 10 July 1943.
The Eleventh Air Force was redesignated the Alaskan Air Command on 18 December 1945, and its headquarters was moved from Adak to Elmendorf AFB on 1 October 1946 to better manage Alaska's emerging air defense system.
"Eleventh Air Force History," Elmendorf Air Force Base, accessed 25 June 2008; available from http://www.elmendorf.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=5421