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In Alaska's far-off Aleutian Islands, a relic of World War II

ANCHORAGE, Alaska _ On Kiska Island in Alaska's faraway Aleutian chain, anti-aircraft guns still point at the sky. Rusting barrels aim for targets that haven't crossed their sights in almost 70 years.

Gray lakes fill craters that were blown into the tundra by bombs that once rained through the clouds. Around them lie the silent husks of war: a submarine, a warplane, tracked transports, tent pegs, ships and shells _ some still waiting to explode.

Here stand mute witnesses of the long dissipated tension and tumult that wracked the world in the 1940s. Sod walls built to block the incessant wind. A hydrant meant to squelch fires wrought by incendiary projectiles. Cast iron stoves around whose warmth young men in soggy, dirty, woolen uniforms once huddled and spoke of home, thousands of miles away.

Perhaps, as they waited for their water to heat, these soldiers debated the enormous and baffling circumstances that caused so many of them to be so far from anything familiar, in a daily contest of life and death.

Their arguments continue today. Increasingly, however, discussions of World War II are based on aging documents, fragile photographs and the memories of those who experienced the events in person. Throughout the Pacific, weapons, wrecks and relics in places where hundreds of thousands died are gone, removed, grown over, built over or decayed to an unrecognizable state.

Except here in Alaska, on Kiska Island.

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