World War II forever changed the Aleutians, the Unangax̂ people, and the lives of those who waged battle there. Key battlefield areas of Attu and Kiska, along with a portion of Atka Island, are part of the Aleutian Islands WWII National Monument.
During World War II the Aleutian Islands became a fiercely contested battleground in the Pacific. This thousand-mile-long archipelago saw invasion by Japanese forces, the occupation of two islands; a mass relocation of Unangax civilians; a 15-month air war; and one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific Theater.
All sites in the Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument are on lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. These sites became part of the refuge in 1913 when President William H. Taft established the Aleutian Islands Reservation (Executive Order 1733) as a breeding ground for native birds, propagation of reindeer and furbearers, and encouragement and development of fisheries.
The Aleutian Islands Reservation was later renamed the Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and then, in 1980 with passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the refuge became the Aleutian Islands Unit of the newly created Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The act outlined five major purposes for this new refuge, with a primary purpose of conserving fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity.
Various parts of the Aleutian Islands WWII National Monument have additional designations. Some of the lands are located in the Aleutian Islands Wilderness (designated in ANILCA) and overlap with two National Historic Landmarks ― the Attu Battlefield and U.S. Army and Navy Airfields on Attu and the Japanese Occupation Site on Kiska.
In 2008 sites in Alaska, Hawaii, and California WWII were re-designated as World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in by President George W. Bush.
The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act) was signed into law on March 12, 2019, making the Aleutian Islands WWII National Memorial its own stand-alone unit, separate from the previously incorporated sites in Hawaii and California under the name WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument.