WWII Veteran Recalls Alaska’s Role in War

Murkowski Celebrates 93-Year Old Army WWII Veteran from Anchorage

Senator Lisa Murkowski today is releasing her 25th Veteran Spotlight interview, focusing on the military service of WWII Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Louis Fessler of Anchorage. Fessler began his military career in Alaska as a young man. He was working on the docks in Whittier as a rigger when he had to report for the draft in Cordova.

During the war, Japanese forces invaded Attu and its neighbor Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. Fessler was part of the effort when U.S. troops retook both Attu and Kiska in the summer of 1943. Although he was trained in desert warfare, his Infantry Division left Alaska and was sent to Pearl Harbor for combat training where he saw firsthand the extensive damage from the attack.

His demolition experience working on the Whittier Tunnel proved to be a valuable asset to the Army when his unit was deployed to fight in the horrific South Pacific War battles in Kwajalein, the Philippines, and Okinawa. He was tasked with handling dynamite, setting booby traps, and making explosives more effective.

Like many of his military comrades, he saw more dead bodies than he could count. The horrors of war were forever etched in his memory.           

“Getting out of it alive is the hardest part,” said Fessler. “I was having nightmares for several years.”

After surviving the war, Louis came back to Alaska to start Fessler Equipment Service in Anchorage, a business that he still operates to this day.

“Louis Fessler offers a unique perspective of Alaska’s role in WWII, a piece of our history that is unknown to many,” said Senator Murkowski.  “He served our nation and our state when we needed it most. I thank him for his service.”

Louis Fessler, U.S. Army veteran
(Click on image for interview of Louis recalling serving on the front lines

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is Senator Murkowski’s focus on an Alaska veteran of American conflicts worldwide to honor and draw well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Today’s installment is the twenty-fifth in the series that began on Memorial Day weekend of 2012.  Throughout the year, Sen. Murkowski posts a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project which recognized Murkowski’s series in 2013 as a model of best practices. You can watch them all by clicking here.

Senator Murkowski invites all Alaskans to nominate a veteran from the 49th state to be featured in the Veteran Spotlight project.  If you have a family member or friend in the community you think has a story to share, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.