Washington may be worried about North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile capability threatening Alaska.
“You’ve always got to keep your edge,” 60-year-old military veteran Robert Allison told the New York Times.
And that’s what Alaska has been doing since the WWII, when it became a military pivot point after the Aleutian Islands were invaded by Japan. The soldiers and pilots who flooded Alaska then — and the roads and bases built for them – in turn became foundations of the Cold War response in the years that followed.
Today, huge Army and Air Force bases remain in a state that’s just 55 miles east of Russia, and one out of every eight adults is a military veteran — the highest concentration in the nation, the Times reported.
“I’ve lived a good life, so if something happens, it happens,” Gary Melven, 68, a Vietnam War veteran — United States Navy — and son of a World War II infantryman, told the Times.
Melven was a boy in Anchorage when the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 kept Distant Early Warning Line radar sites of Alaska and Canada busy looking for signs of incoming missiles.
“It was just background, growing up,” Melven said. “I was more interested in riding my bike.”
Anchorage city officials also told the Times they were seeing little sign of panic about North Korea’s saber-rattling.
“What are we going to do up here that we’re not already doing? They’re not going to evacuate Anchorage. We have more to worry about from an earthquake and tsunami,” John Humphries, 56, a former military helicopter pilot who is now an investigator for the state medical examiner, told the newspaper.
Jim Gorski, a former Navy pilot, said the psychology of calculating risk is different if you’ve experienced real threats; he called it “the bunker question.”
“You start worrying about everything, you’ll go crazy and you won’t enjoy life,” he told the Times.