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Shemya Today-August '02

This is an update on Shemya today, August 2002. Since I’ve put up my initial Shemya page, I’ve had communication with someone who has worked on Shemya recently. He has most generously supplied me with pictures which are included here (and some I’ve added to part one of this Shemya site). He's also answered my questions about comparing the ‘then and now' some of which are included here; I feel I have met my history. Some of the images look exactly as they did in the past, such as this 'regular summer day'. I've decided to include this since all the other pictures are so clear that if you've not been there you will think everyday is a clear day. :)

sheyma-just a summer day
Shemya-a regular summer day (can't see much, can you!) :)

 

Shemya sunrise
Shemya-a rare clear winter day sunrise

 

The military does not inhabit Shemya at this time. Contractors now carry out their functions, and the military zips in to do inspections and zips out as fast as they can. Maybe zips isn't the right word: I remember hovering above the island in a C-130, waiting for the weather to break, in order to land and when weather didn't clear, turning around and lumbering slowly back to wait at Adak or Anchorage. (And doing this three times, meaning three days, before we could actually land.)

The contractors on the island have an off-island rotation plan for the employees which means that they have R&R away from Shemya. This time off from Shemya comes more frequently than the one month a year that the military members knew during their remote tour to this island paradise, and the present workers normally stay a lot longer than the year the military put in. There are approximately one hundred people on the island now, and less than ten women (this is a guess rather than a headcount).

shemya-powerplant walkway
Powerplant walkway

Cable television is available, with two movie channels and the military channels plus several more channels for news and other programs. And obviously e mail exists or I wouldn't know any of this, nor would I have my snazzy new pictures…thrilled with modern technology!

 


Some of the buildings are now empty. It is sad to me, thinking about those buildings once filled with the hustle and bustle of people, now filled with only ghosts of those who've traveled that way before.

This is the dorm, now empty, right across from the large composite building 600 which is still going strong. You can see where this is located by looking at the black and white picture of the buildings on the first page of this Shemya site. I remember someone streaking across that road in front of that dorm in all their bare glory.

The old gym is still standing but a new gym (around 1991) has taken over its functions. The new gym contains a lot of workout equipment, a basketball court, paddleball/racquetball court, an inside running track, some hobby shops and a nice movie theater. The hobby shops and movie theater may be unused at this time.

 

 

shemya-old den

The Cobra Den once a hopping party place after a tough workday for the military residents and the island contractors, is now silent and empty. It had a bar, pool table, fireplace, and cooking facilities and apparently even a hot tub at one time. There is a place behind the Cobra Den called the Cliff House which is also empty and unused and it has a great view of the Bering Sea when the weather is good (the Cliff House is shown on part one of this Shemya site).

 

 

shemya-the 16th
And...here are the remnants of the dearly departed 16th.

 

shemya-most of the island

This is most of Shemya now, in all its splendor during the (one month of) summer. Note the craters. If I pretended, I could almost picture this being Mars or a moon. I've been told a lot of the holes were places that they had fuel storage tanks, and some of them close to the cliffs are made of concrete and held the big guns from WW2. Also they may have placed some of the early buildings and tents partially below ground level for some protection from the winds.

 

 

shemya barge run aground

This barge, according to the story, came to its demise in 1958. It was a fuel barge that broke loose from its tug boat. The diesel fuel was pumped out. Now it is a rusting monument resting in all its glory where people spray paint their autographs and other fine words upon its surface.

 

 

 

shemya-can you see the fox?
If you look closely, you will see a Shemya fox in the grass in front of a rock.

 

shemya-dawn on the island
A lot of us didn't know the beauty that was there on the rare clear days.

 

 

One of the biggest surprises to me was that Reeve Aleutian Airways went out of business last year. I always thought there would be a Reeve’s airline just as I thought there’d always be a Shemya. Everyone is hoping that another airline will contract to fly jets to the island SOON because the C-130’s are mighty slow and very cold. Also, when the C-130's can't land (far more often than when Reeve's flew), the plane lumbers on back to Anchorage or elsewhere, adding up to ten hours more of flying time.

shemya-signpost
Signpost to the great beyond....

 


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