A state task force will be appointed by Gov. Bill Walker to study the creation of an Alaska Military History Museum.

Walker signed an administrative order Saturday in a ceremony at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, attended by members of the Last Frontier Honor Flight. In a statement, he noted the state’s continuing strategic importance to the U.S., including ballistic-missile interceptors based at Fort Greely.

 
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“Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state in the country, and Alaska Native people serve the armed forces in higher proportions than any other demographic,” Walker’s statement read. “It is important to recognize this history, and honor those who sacrifice, those who continue to serve, and those who will serve the future.”

Walker’s order touches on the state’s rich tradition of military history, much of it dating back to World War II. Those events include the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands, the U.S. internment of some residents displaced from the Aleutians, black soldiers’ role in building the Alaska-Canada Highway and the nearly 8,000 aircraft which landed in Fairbanks on their way to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program.

The order calls for 11 members of the public and a chairperson appointed by Walker to serve on the task force, ideally drawn from the ranks of veterans and veterans organizations, military historians and enthusiasts and museum professionals and archivists. Several state commissioners or people they designate will serve as non-voting members to assist.

Members will have the charge to “research and coordinate similar efforts, inventory artifacts, collect oral histories, research funding, and propose possible sites.” The task force’s initial report is due in October, with a final assessment following in June 2020.

Joe Vigil contributed information to this story.

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