Adam Bruton

Gregory Golodoff Obituary: remote island in the Aleutian Chain, cause of death

Gregory Golodoff Obituary: In a remote island in the Aleutian Chain, a chapter in history came to an end with the passing of Gregory Golodoff, the last living individual born and raised in Attu. As a three-year-old, Golodoff witnessed the Japanese Imperial Army overrun his town and imprison his family during the Battle of Attu in 1942. After enduring three years of illness and malnutrition as a prisoner of war, Golodoff and his surviving family members were unable to return to their homes, leading to the abandonment of the village. Now, Golodoff’s remarkable story sheds light on a forgotten chapter of World War II. Let’s find out more here: ndtmusic.edu.vn

The Battle of Attu and the Life of Gregory Golodoff

Background of the Battle of Attu

The Battle of Attu, which took place in 1942, was a significant event during World War II. Attu, the final island in the Aleutian Chain before reaching Russia, was overrun by the Japanese Imperial Army. This remote town of Unangax̂ became a battleground, and its residents, including Gregory Golodoff and his family, were caught in the midst of the conflict. The Japanese army besieged the island for three long months before transporting the entire population of 42 Attu citizens to Japan as prisoners of war.

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Golodoff’s Experience during the Battle

Gregory Golodoff, then just three years old, witnessed the horrors of war as the Japanese army attacked his hometown. Seated in a sod house, he could hear the deafening sound of machine gun fire and gunshots. Golodoff vividly recalls the uncertainty and fear that gripped the community during those dark days. Despite his young age, he understood the imminent danger they faced.

During their time as prisoners of war in Japan, Golodoff and his family endured unimaginable hardships. Confined to a dormitory in the harbor city of Otaru, they suffered from illness and malnutrition. Their daily rations consisted of meager portions of rice or occasionally a salted herring. Golodoff remembers the kindness shown by the chefs, who treated him with sympathy and care, providing a small comfort in the midst of their dire circumstances.

Tragically, not all of the Attuan POWs survived their captivity. Golodoff’s father, among many others, succumbed to illness and passed away in Japan. The surviving family members, including Golodoff, his mother, his elder brother Nick, and his sister Elizabeth, were eventually freed after the war. However, they were unable to return to their homes on Attu, as the village had been abandoned and deemed uninhabitable.

Golodoff and his family found a new home in the Unangax̂ town of Atka, located about 500 miles east of Attu. They settled there, along with other survivors, and began rebuilding their lives. Golodoff spent the majority of his life in Atka, focusing on hunting, fishing, and practicing subsistence living. Despite the hardships he endured during the Battle of Attu and its aftermath, Golodoff remained resilient and dedicated to his new community.

Life as a Prisoner of War

Imprisonment in Otaru

After the Japanese Imperial Army captured Attu, Gregory Golodoff and his family were taken as prisoners of war and transported to the harbor city of Otaru. Confined to a dormitory, they were separated from their homeland and forced to adapt to a life of captivity. The unfamiliar surroundings and the absence of their community added to the sense of isolation and uncertainty they experienced.

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Conditions and Challenges Faced

Life as a prisoner of war in Otaru was marked by immense hardships and challenges. Golodoff and his family endured difficult living conditions, with overcrowded quarters and limited resources. Illness and malnutrition were constant companions, as they struggled to survive on meager rations of rice or occasionally a salted herring. The physical toll of their captivity was compounded by the emotional strain of being separated from their loved ones and the constant fear of the unknown.

Despite these adversities, Golodoff and his family found strength in their resilience and the support they provided to one another. They formed bonds with fellow prisoners, sharing stories and offering comfort in the face of adversity. The kindness shown by the chefs, who treated them with compassion and care, provided a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness of their circumstances.

Throughout their time in captivity, Golodoff and his family demonstrated remarkable courage and determination. They faced each day with unwavering resolve, refusing to let their spirits be broken. Their survival was a testament to the human spirit’s ability to endure and find solace even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Aftermath of the War

Abandonment of Attu and Relocation


Following the end of World War II, the devastating impact of the Battle of Attu became evident. The US government made the difficult decision to abandon the village of Attu, as the damage inflicted during the conflict made it impossible for the liberated prisoners of war to return. Gregory Golodoff and the surviving residents were faced with the daunting task of starting anew in different locations.

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Golodoff and his family, along with other survivors, were relocated to the Unangax̂ town of Atka, located about 500 miles east of Attu. This transition brought a mix of emotions – relief at being freed from captivity, but also a sense of loss for their beloved homeland. Despite the challenges, they embraced their new surroundings and worked together to rebuild their lives.

Life in Atka and Golodoff’s Perspective

For Golodoff and his family, Atka became their new home and a symbol of resilience. They found solace in the tight-knit community and the shared experiences of survival. Life in Atka revolved around the pursuit of sustenance, with hunting and fishing becoming essential activities. Golodoff, like many others, immersed himself in these traditional practices, finding a sense of purpose and connection to his cultural heritage.

Reflecting on his experiences, Golodoff acknowledges the profound impact that the Battle of Attu and his time as a prisoner of war had on his life. While the conflict brought unimaginable hardships, it also shaped his perspective and instilled in him a deep appreciation for the simple joys of everyday life. He cherishes the bonds formed with fellow survivors and the strength that emerged from their collective resilience.

Golodoff’s story serves as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the ability to find hope and purpose even in the face of adversity. His journey from the ruins of Attu to the vibrant community of Atka is a testament to the power of resilience and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Gregory Golodoff, the last living individual born and raised in Attu, a remote island in the Aleutian Chain, passed away on November 17. Golodoff’s family was imprisoned by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, enduring three years of illness and malnutrition. After the war, the surviving POWs were unable to return to their homes, and Attu was abandoned. Golodoff and his family settled in the town of Atka, where he lived most of his life. Despite the hardships he faced, Golodoff focused on hunting, fishing, and practicing subsistence living. His passing marks the end of a chapter in the history of Attu.