Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The legend of Squeaky Anderson, the poacher of Alaska — and a Navy officer

Another thing I read at Carlisle was the oral history of Lt. Gen. George Forsythe, who during World War II served for a bit in Alaska, and in the 1970s helped create the All Volunteer Army. Forsythe was impressed that when the Navy began planning amphibious operations in the Aleutians, it sought out a fish ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Another thing I read at Carlisle was the oral history of Lt. Gen. George Forsythe, who during World War II served for a bit in Alaska, and in the 1970s helped create the All Volunteer Army.

Forsythe was impressed that when the Navy began planning amphibious operations in the Aleutians, it sought out a fish poacher named Squeaky Anderson, who made his living seining in areas that legally were limited to fishing by Native American tribes, as well as by poaching sea otter pelts and such, and sometimes selling rotten salmon, and perhaps walking off with anything that wasn't nailed down in the harbor. In the process of poaching and evading the Coast Guard, Forsythe said, Anderson had learned all the rocks, reefs, currents, and hiding spots along the islands. The Navy made him a lieutenant commander, and Squeaky brought along his little fishing boat on a lot of the subsequent operations, in part because that is where he kept his booze.

Apparently the short, fat Anderson went to become a respected beachmaster in several Pacific landings, most notably Saipan and Iwo Jima, where he was instant recognizable for his usual uniform of cut-off shorts, dirty baseball cap, black shoes, and red face.

Another thing I read at Carlisle was the oral history of Lt. Gen. George Forsythe, who during World War II served for a bit in Alaska, and in the 1970s helped create the All Volunteer Army.

Forsythe was impressed that when the Navy began planning amphibious operations in the Aleutians, it sought out a fish poacher named Squeaky Anderson, who made his living seining in areas that legally were limited to fishing by Native American tribes, as well as by poaching sea otter pelts and such, and sometimes selling rotten salmon, and perhaps walking off with anything that wasn’t nailed down in the harbor. In the process of poaching and evading the Coast Guard, Forsythe said, Anderson had learned all the rocks, reefs, currents, and hiding spots along the islands. The Navy made him a lieutenant commander, and Squeaky brought along his little fishing boat on a lot of the subsequent operations, in part because that is where he kept his booze.

Apparently the short, fat Anderson went to become a respected beachmaster in several Pacific landings, most notably Saipan and Iwo Jima, where he was instant recognizable for his usual uniform of cut-off shorts, dirty baseball cap, black shoes, and red face.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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