Hospital marks anniversary, honors fallen WWII Soldier, doctor
June 6, 2013
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The hospital on Fort Wainwright has not always been Bassett Army Community Hospital. In fact, when the original hospital was opened in 1953 it wasn't even an Army Hospital. It wasn't until January 1961 that Ladd Air Force Base was transferred to the Department of the Army and the installation was named Fort Wainwright.
The hospital was rededicated as Bassett Army Hospital in honor of Capt. John Winfield Bassett April 10, 1963.
Last week, Medical Department Activity -- Alaska remembered Bassett on the 70th anniversary of his death.
Bassett was educated at the University of Southern California, where he received his Doctor of Medicine degree. He entered service in January 1941 as platoon leader, Clearing Company, 7th Medical Battalion, 7th Division at Fort Ord, Calif.
In June 1942, a Japanese offensive attack captured Attu, a small remote island on the western tip of the Aleutian Chain.
On a cloudy, wind-swept May 11 morning in 1943, Americans launched a campaign to recapture Attu. U.S. infantrymen dug in May 28, feeling confident the following day would see the end of the Japanese occupation.
The American assault was successful, and only 800 Japanese troops remained trapped in a box canyon.
The U.S. forces were surprised however, when on the morning of May 29, the enemy troops launched a last-ditch effort. They successfully overran the advance aid station commanded by Bassett. The Japanese soldiers stormed through the aid station, killing wounded Soldiers.
Bassett organized the medics and walking wounded into a makeshift army to ward off the attack.
Despite his efforts, Bassett was shot and killed.
Bassett's acts of heroism were immediately recognized by the U.S. Army and he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for heroism in the face of the enemy.
A small tribute to Capt. Bassett remains in the lobby of the hospital as a reminder of his service to our country and his acts of bravery.