Thursday, October 1, 2009

Alaska Territorial Guardsmen will likely get pensions

Caroline Hoover pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on her father David Martin's parka during an official discharge ceremony in Kipnuk, Oct. 17, 2008. Photo by Jerry Walton, DMVA / ADN file.

Via Anchorage Daily News

Sen. Mark Begich [D] says he's confident military pension benefits will be restored to 26 elderly World War II Alaska Territorial Guardsmen who, the Defense Department and the Obama administration say, do not qualify for benefits under existing law. The administration says such pensions would create a precedent for granting federal benefits to people who essentially were state employees (even though Alaska wasn't a state in World War II and there are a limited number of individuals who would qualify.)

Begich says he and Murkowski [who introduced the bill to restore the ATG pensions] have inserted language in the current defense appropriations bill that would restore the pensions, and he doesn't anticipate opposition from other congressmen.

Begich floor speech on the members of the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG)

Paul Kiunya Sr. was just 16 when the now 78-year-old retiree joined the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II. Traveling by kayak in the summer and dog sled when snow covered the ground, Kiunya and his fellow guardsmen were among the nation's first line of defense from the Japanese.

Murkowski Appeals to President Obama on Alaska Territorial Guard Retirement Benefits

~ ~ ~

The Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG) or Eskimo Scouts was a military reserve force component of the US Army, organized in 1942 in response to attacks on American soil in Hawaii and Alaska by Japan during World War II. The ATG operated until 1947. 6,368 volunteers who served without pay were enrolled from 107 communities throughout Alaska in addition to a paid staff of 21, according to an official roster.

The ATG brought together for the first time into a joint effort members of these ethnic groups: Aleut, Athabaskan, European American, Inupiaq, Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Yupik, and most likely others. In later years, all members of some native units scored expert sharpshooter rankings. Among the 27 or more women members were at least one whose riflery skills exceeded the men. The ages of members at enrollment ranged from 80 years old to as young as twelve. -- Wikipedia


AP said...

Thanks for posting about this--I hadn't heard about it. I hope all those affected get their benefits--our armed forces deserve our support regardless of when they served.

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