- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - A bunker that searched the skies during World War II now sits blinded in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, its massive light long gone.

Two volunteers have found a searchlight to take its place, but can’t get the massive thing to Alaska, reported the Kodiak Daily Mirror (https://bit.ly/1MY4bD1).

Nancy and Chuck Meitle, both retired residents of Corvallis, Oregon, are spending their fourth summer volunteering at Fort Abercrombie. While home, they spotted a bunch of searchlights in a field and convinced the elderly man who owned them to donate one to the park and the Kodiak Military History Museum.

But the 5-foot-tall light, made by the Sperry Company and weighing in at about 3,000 pounds, is still in Oregon.

“We’re trying to figure out how to get it here,” Nancy said.

She says they’ve sought out corporate donors to ship the light, but haven’t had any luck so far.

Large searchlights like the one donated by the Oregon man used to fill the bunkers dotting Kodiak that look like garages with double doors, said Nancy. The searchlight would be on one side and the generator that powered it would be on the other.

The particular searchlight donated to Fort Abercrombie was not used in Kodiak, according to Nancy, who says she doesn’t know exactly where it was used.

But the make and model are the same as the ones used in Kodiak during the war, said Nancy, who is a retired teacher.

The lights were used to spot things that turned up as blips on radar, she said, or they were beamed across a bay so that any ship entering the area would have to pass through the light.

Chuck has already put his background as a machinist to work restoring the light, which Nancy said is valued at between $20,000 and $25,000. He’s straightened the axles that allow the light to roll out of the bunker and worked on the plaque stating its brand name.

When the spotlight eventually arrives in Kodiak, Nancy says the park and museum aren’t sure if it will be placed in the bunker. It could also go in the museum or in a searchlight repair facility.


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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