Explore Abandoned WWII And Cold War Military Remnants On Alaska's Adak Island

Adak Island - A Historic Blast From The Past

 By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

Alaska's Adak Island is an isolated destination with rich history, rugged terrain, and scenic landscapes. Its location in the Aleutian Islands marks the dividing line between the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Adak is an island, the largest town on the island goes by the same name though it was formerly Adak Station, and is the southernmost city in Alaska. Its remote locality proved to be ideal for the United States military during both World War II and the Cold War, causing the area to grow rapidly in a very short amount of time. However, it wasn’t long before the wars ended and the military bases closed down. What remains of Adak has left many onlookers to believe that Adak is nothing more than a mere ghost town. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
Interestingly enough, Adak was the westernmost military installation in the entire nation for a short while. At the time, it allowed American military forces to mount a successful offensive operation against the Japanese-held Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu during WWII. The Naval Air Facility Adak was established in 1942, which played a very significant role during the Cold War. A submarine surveillance center was established and brought in both US Navy and Coast Guard members by the masses. Flickr - Travis
At Adak Station’s peak, the military community housed over 6,000 Navy and Coast Guard members along with their families. Buildings popped up all over the place—from residential structures and schools to popular chain restaurants and local watering holes. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
During the peak of this military community, Adak had a college campus and a major hospital. Entertainment in the area included a wide variety of options including a movie theater, roller skating rink, swimming pool, squash court, saunas, ski lodge, bowling alleys, skeet range, auto hobby shop, photo lab, and racquetball and tennis courts. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
The military base opted to downsize years later in 1994, and it was at this time that both family housing units and public schools closed. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
The Naval Air Facility Adak was closed officially in 1997 before reopening as the Adak Airport. Although the facility became listed as a National Historic Landmark for its role in WWII, most of the remnants of the past have since been demolished or lie in shambled ruins. Many buildings have since closed or become abandoned, but there are still some structures that remain open to serve the small local population that resides on Adak today. Flickr - army.arch Adam
Today the population of Adak is just over 300 permanent residents, but the rich military history isn’t gone. In fact, relics from the past can be found just about everywhere you look. Flickr - Travis
As you explore Adak today, you'll see row upon row of abandoned duplexes that once housed thousands of military members along with their beloved families. Flickr - Travis
Many signs that used to be pleasantly displayed with information about the historic value of local buildings are now covered in rust. Flickr - Kim F
It is such a rare and unique sight to observe historical manholes used during the WWII era. Flickr - Kim F
Quonset huts and military bunkers can be found scattered throughout Adak, abandoned and slowly becoming reclaimed by nature. Flickr - Travis
You'll find signage that indicates particular areas where enlisted military members practiced drills with live ammunition. Flickr - Travis
The abandoned playground equipment on Adak is a stark reminder of the many military families that used to call Adak home. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
Even the abandoned police barracks structure still stands strong on Adak today. Flickr - Travis
You'll also find an abandoned Pizza Hut in the middle of town. Adak Island Flickr - Kim F
Along with the other popular chain restaurant… McDonald's! Flickr - Travis Flickr - Travis
With every twist and turn comes a new surprise. Tucked away from the downtown Adak area, you can even find remnants of an abandoned bar on the island's mountainside. Adak Island Flickr - Travis
Alaska's Adak Island is a place unlike any other in the world. Along with the magnificently diverse terrain and breathtaking scenery, Adak is filled with an immense amount of historic charm. Walking through town is truly like taking a step back in time. Not only will the friendly locals that currently reside on the island make you feel right at home, but the enchanting setting will make you feel as if you're in the single most unique place on planet earth. Even the town motto is amazing: "Where the winds blow, and friendship grow." Adak Island Flickr - Global Wildlife Conservation
Explore Adak: Many people visit Alaska's Adak Island to experience the prolific fisheries, abundant caribou, and breathtaking natural beauty. This remote wonder is a photographer’s paradise and a nirvana for those seeking tranquility in the wilderness. Outdoor recreational activities on Adak include fishing, hunting, backpacking, birding, and wildlife viewing. The prized Adak caribou can exceed weights of 700 pounds, making hunting a prime attraction. You can access this island destination by flying into the Adak Airport.
Looking for more where that came from? Check out Adak Island - Salvaging Items Left Behind. Also, this 1964 Good Friday Earthquake Photo Gallery will show you a glimpse into the destruction of the second largest earthquake in recorded history. Be sure to also check out The Alaska Purchase - A Brief History. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley 


It’s so you can open the windows and let the fresh air in without letting any snow or rain in.

Jack April 17, 2021

assigned to sec group—away from town
was attached to comsta public works 1970-1971
lived in town near the CPO Club
we did some interesting repairs and interfaced with many military and civilian pers..
Good Memories had my wife-daughther there and my son was first child born jan70-71..
Seabee Shipmate richrard skarzynski- terriffic guy,///we had a tight group in comsta but married with family lived in town duplexed homes.enjoy playing BANCO WITH Many families.
Catching salmon swimmimg up.. I Tsunami warning on a sunday .. fishing at lake bonny—-fishing for tuna or halibut —-MMR boat was good but the waves got the best of all of us.. good skiipper 2nd class. beautiful scenery when weather and willy waws were calm..the best of FRESH air i had since returning from vietnam big change,, a great time to decompress for many of the Seabees that were there.

FRANK HOSINSKI April 17, 2021

John…were you a graduate of the Skags Island CTO school in 67?

Bill Walker

Bill Walker April 17, 2021

Was a student in Adak in 67 thru 69. Dad was David Ellis.

Connie April 17, 2021

Stationed at comm sta ( clam lagoon) from 1956 -1957 major event was the earthquake in 1957
It was a 8.9 tore up the base pretty bad. Remember the view from our 2nd story barracks — mt. Sitka ( when you could see it) smoking away. Fond memories of my time on the “Rock”.
Whole purpose of my division was in support of the CT (communication tech) . Hiking all over the island— they did’t tell us that there were land mines left over from WW 2. In those days there was no McDonald’s or Pizza Hut—liberty was a bus ride to the NOB—(naval operating base) for a movie & hamburger—big whoop!!!pretty primitive.
John sanborn

John sanborn April 17, 2021

My sisters and I may have been some of those friends. Was there 67 to 70.

Connir April 17, 2021

My sisters and I may have been some of those friends. Was there 67 to 70.

Connir April 17, 2021

When in the 40’s? My Dad, Mom and I were there 1948-51. Navy. Dad was the Supply Officer of the base. I was 2+ years old during that time.

Bob Donald

Robert A. Donald, III April 17, 2021

I was stationed there in 1967-68 Naval Support, Electric shop CEW-2. Hiked to the other side of the Island and went for a swim in the Bering Sea! brrrrrr. It was a long year there.

Bob Caldwell April 17, 2021

It is always confused with being a Pizza Hut, but in fact it was the Base Day Care Center and now is the Store on Island. It’s to bad Know one takes pictures of the nice part of town!

Steven Carroll April 17, 2021

I don’t remember ride stables on Adak.

Luann April 17, 2021

I was supposed to go there in April, 1964. I did not go and didn’t re-enlist. Got out and went on the Fire Department and spent 37 years and retired to Florida.

Chuck Turner April 17, 2021

We were stationed in adak three times and loved it. The wind was so bad you always walk at a slant. If the sun came out you would get the day off with pay from work, might happen once a year. But we loved it there.

Luann Corkins April 17, 2021

David, Were you at Commsta? My friend Dennis and I found a sick eagle at the Navy dump (they believe he ate rat poison). We wrapped him in a coat and carried him back. The Seabees took him and rehabbed him. When I left the island in late Nov. ’72 he was still sitting on a perch in the Seabee compound, unable to fly due to loss of equilibrium. Often wondered what happened to him?

David Fuhrman April 17, 2021

Stationed at NSGA Adak Oct 2,1970 – Oct 2, 1971. Was not a happy sailor to be there but would not trade the experience for anything.

John Robertson April 17, 2021

This is Jim Morris
I was there Sept 69 to Sept 70
I was at the com sta
I was a storekeeper
I was known as the com shaw artest
I got it all
I remember a C. B Named Smith the bus driver and alot more

Jim Morris April 17, 2021

I worked with your Dad Gwen it was my 1st duty station as a Seabee, I went to visit him in Oklahoma years later.
Frank Barrett

Frank Barrett April 17, 2021

Stationed on Adak ‘63-64. Flew in on Reeves Alutian Airlines to maim base, then on to NavGrpSec about 12 miles away from main base. Remember only about 4 buildings, one on the “mountain “ where we all worked. Had bowling alley with 2 lanes!!! Communication Technician monitoring Russian fishing fleet!! Anyone able to fill in the blanks??? Bill D. P.O. Box 207, Blauvelt NY 10913

Bill Dailey April 17, 2021

My husband was stationed in Kodak in the SeaBees. I believe he was there in 1955 – 56.

Claire Pryce April 17, 2021

My family was there in ~1985-~1987. I was a kid but my brother was born there.

Chris April 17, 2021

You can do both

Rj April 17, 2021

My Dad was stationed there as welll in 1942-1945 with the 7th Infantry. I have many photos of Adak and Kiska. He didn’t talk about it except to say how cold it was and the nights lasted for ever… I served in the Navy from 1967 – 2001 and there is no question in my mind they “Were The Greatest Generation” …

John pescatore April 17, 2021

Arrived on Adak in May of 1965. It was snowing. I wrote home to Texas that I didn’t know if it was the first or the last.
Was named Manager of the Armed Forces Radio & TV Station as an E2. Was a great job. Got orders to Port
Hueneme for Combat Training. Became publisher of the “Stinger”, newspaper of MCB11 in Danang in 1966.
Left the Navy in 1967 as a Navy Journalist JO3. These two duty stations have played a major role in my life since. Have made connections with a few friends from Adak, but not a single friend from Vietnam.

James Cowan April 17, 2021

My dad was on Adak with the 86th NCB during WWII. I was stationed there in 1975-76 and returned in the 1980s for two weeks reserve duty. One of the best places I was ever stationed. Fishing, hunting, photography, we even had riding stables on base.

Sandi D April 17, 2021

Russia is are ally in WW11. We were sending airplanes to Russia using Adak as a pit stop. My dad was in the Army Air Core there.

jdagge April 17, 2021

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