When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Charles Bradley enlisted in the army. An avid skier and mountaineer with a degree in geology, he quickly found himself among the first members of the new 10th Mountain Division, the only unit of the U.S. Army established to train men in mountain combat. Soon, Bradley was training candidates for a potential ground assault on Japan and in a new theater for mountain warfare: the magnificent but potentially life-threatening Aleutian Islands.
Bradley's military career kept him from the front lines of the war, but he and his companions had their own battles with loneliness and fatigue, with Aleutian weather and terrain, and with the military brass. The Axis powers were real enough, but the immediate enemy was the environment. It was Bradley's job, now on assignment with the North Pacific Combat School, to help teach his trainees the skills of survival and mobility under conditions that included rugged terrain, glaciers, fierce winds, heavy rains and snow storms, and the threat of avalanches.
Each story of confrontation with that rugged environment is balanced by one of discovery and awe. The Aleutians could be dangerous, but they were also an unspoiled realm for adventure and fascination. Soldier Bradley also grew as an artist; his interest in the natural history and geography of the islands is reflected in his paintings of what he saw near his posts, first at Unalaska and later at Adak. It is also reflected in his honest, insightful prose. Bradley is a writer with his own voice, his own clear way of conveying how recruits struggle or how ravens play.
Aleutian Echoes is one man's carefully observed, sometimes wry memoir of natural wonders and unnatural challenges.