News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Wilson
For Immediate Release: April 05, 2017

Legislature Recognizes Black Soldiers’ Contributions to AK Highway

Wilson_stamp.jpgSenator David Wilson   Web Site    Send Email

JUNEAU – The Alaska State Legislature passed a bill today formally recognizing the contributions of African American soldiers to the building of the Alaska Highway.   

Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla), establishes October 25 of each year as African American Soldiers' Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the highway’s construction.

“Little recognition has been given to the African American soldiers who braved the elements and overcame discrimination to help build the Alaska Highway,” said Sen. Wilson. “We can’t change the past, but we can honor the men who helped pave the way on a project that would ultimately serve as a road to civil rights.” 

In response to fears of a Japanese invasion, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942 to connect Alaska to the continental U.S.

Approximately one-third of the troops assembled by the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the ambitious project were African American, at a time when they faced overt racism and legal discrimination.  

Three regiments of African-American engineers were involved in building the Alaska and Canadian portions of the highway: the 93rd Engineer General Service Regiments, the 95th Engineer General Service Regiments and the 97th Engineer General Service Regiment, the regiment responsible for building the Alaska portion of the highway.

On October 25, 1942, the 97th Engineer Regiment heading south met the white troops from the 18th Engineer Regiment heading north, completing the road’s last link.

The Alaska Highway is considered one of the biggest and most difficult construction projects ever completed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It stretches 1,422 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska, at a cost of $138 million dollars (approximately $2 billion in 2017 dollars).

SB 46 has been transmitted to the governor and awaits his signature to be signed into law.

For more information, contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Daniel McDonald at (907) 465-4066.


Share this on Twitter Tweet icon-facebook.png Share

News & Videos more >

Senator Shelley Hughes

Alaska Senate Urges Railroad Crossing through Canada

JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today unanimously voted for a resolution urging the U.S. to issue a presidential permit allowing a railroad crossing between Alaska and Canada....  Full Story >>

Senator Click Bishop

PFD Raffle for Education Raises Nearly $1 million

The numbers are in for the 2019 Alaska Permanent Fund Education Raffle. The program, in its first year, raised a grand total of $976,400, with 85 percent of the proceeds directly benefiting...  Full Story >>

Senator Peter Micciche

'Save the Alaska State Fair Act’ Passes Senate

The Alaska Senate today unanimously passed Senate Bill 16 to clarify irregularities detrimental to small businesses in the state’s alcohol license laws.  Full Story >>

Senator Natasha von Imhof

Senate Finance Introduces Spending Cap, 50/50 POMV Split

JUNEAU – The Senate Finance Committee today introduced a pair of bills to cap government spending and establish a 50-50 split between dividends and state expenses from the limited...  Full Story >>

Senator Mia Costello

Legislators Update Alaska Innovation Caucus

Leaders from all parties come together for Alaska’s future economy  Full Story >>

Senator Cathy Giessel

Senate Approves Renewal of Alaska Vaccine Assessment Program

JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today unanimously approved a measure that improves statewide access to vaccines and reduces healthcare costs for providers and insurance payers....  Full Story >>

Majority Press Office

Senate Majority Cheers Sturgeon Supreme Court Victory

JUNEAU – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of John Sturgeon, finding that the Nation River is state, not federal, land, and is therefore navigable inside of Alaska’s...  Full Story >>

Senator Bert Stedman

Alaska Senate Approves Funding for Earthquake Disaster Relief

JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today unanimously approved funding to aid communities impacted by the Nov. 30 Southcentral earthquake.  Full Story >>

Senator David Wilson

Proposal Would Allow PFD Donations to General Fund

JUNEAU – A bill was introduced in the Alaska Senate this week to give Alaskans the option of donating all or a portion of their Permanent Fund dividends (PFDs) directly to the state’s...  Full Story >>

Senator John Coghill

Bill Introduced to Repeal Rules Restricting Speech, Process

JUNEAU – Today, a bill was introduced in the Alaska Senate to repeal provisions of a new law found to be too restrictive of Alaska’s citizen legislature.  Full Story >>

Find your Senator full map