Stories

Doug Bell–Alcan Pioneer

  We were guests, not presenters at our second event at the Whitehorse Public Library.  The librarian Mairi Macrae, invited several older residents to come share refreshments and stories of the old days on the Alcan and she invited us to join them. One very special guest was Millie Jones.  Another incredible guest was Doug … Continue reading Doug Bell–Alcan Pioneer


Our Author Page Blog

We are in Alaska and Canada on a publicity tour for our book We Fought the Road.  And I’ve been blogging highway memories on our Facebook author page–a fascinating small community is developing with comments and reactions from people who live up here.  You might find them interesting. Just log in to Facebook and then … Continue reading Our Author Page Blog


The World is a Lesser Place Today

In October of 2015 we posted a story about our visit with Alaska Highway historian, Heath Twichell.  It was a light hearted post because we had just met Heath and we were thrilled. He was an officer and gentleman in the truest sense of those words.  Our book, indeed the very direction of our lives, … Continue reading The World is a Lesser Place Today


Leonard’s Press Conference

We received two photos a few days ago…  One is of Leonard and his boys with his hostess-Meadow Bailey and her husband. The second is unbelievable.  Leonard had a press conference!  


Leonard Larkins is in Alaska

Yesterday we received an email with a photo of Leonard Larkins and three of his sons at the Fairbanks Airport.  I think we are more excited than he is. In our mind this tough, taciturn old man stands in for everyone of his fellows who endured and accomplished what he did.  


Leonard Larkins Returns to the Highway

I’ve told part of this story  before, but I have to post an update!  I just spoke with Meadow Bailey who works with the Alaska Department of Transportation and who, this anniversary year, is dead center in the effort to celebrate the black men who worked on the road.  She updated me on their plan … Continue reading Leonard Larkins Returns to the Highway


We Fought the Road

Our book, We Fought the Road, is on Epicenter Press’ fall/winter list.  Will be released September 2017.  Learning to write a book was one thing. Turns out that learning to be authors is quite another. And it’s hard! We’ve created an author page on Facebook.  And we’re learning how to use it.  And, the whole point is … Continue reading We Fought the Road


Millie Jones

  I originally posted this story several months ago.  But now I need to revise and add to it,  because, on our tour we had several events in Whitehorse, Yukon.  We found Millie again, and she is the same beautiful, smart, engaging lady she was four years ago. We presented her with a copy of … Continue reading Millie Jones


Alaska SB 46

For the past few weeks we have been a small part of a large and dedicated group of people trying to help pass a bill introduced in the Alaska State Legislature by Senator David Wilson.  The bill would establish October 25, the anniversary of the ceremony that dedicated the completed highway, as “African American Soldiers’ … Continue reading Alaska SB 46


Leonard Larkins and the Alaska State Senate

The Alaska State Senate is considering a bill to make October 25th a state holiday honoring the black men who worked on the Alaska Highway. This is a very big deal to a lot of people–including us. Today we learned that our friend Leonard Larkins testified to the Alaska Senate via telephone in support of … Continue reading Leonard Larkins and the Alaska State Senate


Top Kick

Soon after this website went on line, we posted a story about Company A’s first sergeant, Ashel Honesty.  Working on the site and on our book, We Fought the Road, we kept crossing Sgt. Honesty’s trail.  And he fascinates us.  Enlisted soldiers live and work in platoons commanded by commissioned officers—usually second lieutenants, fresh from … Continue reading Top Kick


We Fought the Road

We created this site to document and publicize the incredible men- -especially the incredible black men–who suffered and struggled to build the greatest highway in America.  For the past three years we have also been writing a book, hoping to tell the story in more detail. Several months ago we sent the manuscript to Lael Morgan in … Continue reading We Fought the Road


Ceylon’s Father–James A. Mitchell

WE FOUND ANOTHER FAMILY! Last year Jean Pollard, an Alaska educator who has worked tirelessly to celebrate the black heroes of the Alaska Highway, and a terrific friend of our effort to do the same, helped organize an event in Anchorage to celebrate the memory of those men.  Ceylon Mitchell lives in Anchorage.  His father helped … Continue reading Ceylon’s Father–James A. Mitchell


Captain Robert Boyd–And Chris Bailey

An email appeared in our inbox last week. “I have an original flag from the 93rd, Company C.  It is pictured on the cover of Boyd’s Me and Company C.  It’s the real one, from his estate.  Would you like a picture for your website?” We would, of course, like a picture for our website; … Continue reading Captain Robert Boyd–And Chris Bailey


The Path to Leonard Larkins

Last week we made our way to New Orleans to meet a second black veteran of the 93rd. The way south took us through the forests and fields of Alabama and the swampland of southern Mississippi—quiet, vaguely impoverished country, hot under the afternoon sun. Towns and places glided by us—Birmingham, Alabama; Lowndes County and Philadelphia, … Continue reading The Path to Leonard Larkins


Hubert Crites of the 340th

Reta Gaston saw a TV program about the construction of the Alaska Highway; knew her father had served there.  On a whim, she did a web search.  And she found us. She contacted us, told us about her father—Hubert Crites.  Hubert served in the 340th Engineers, and he has a page under 340th Personnel with … Continue reading Hubert Crites of the 340th


Another Living Veteran of the 93rd Engineers–Leonard Larkins

They say it never rains but it pours… Just a few days before we left to meet with Samuel Hargoves, Bert Larkins typed “93rd Engineers” into Google, and found his dad’s page under 93rd Personnel on this site.  His father, Bert tells us, is a healthy 96 and remembers his military experience very well.  Pvt. … Continue reading Another Living Veteran of the 93rd Engineers–Leonard Larkins


Tech Sergeant Samuel Hargroves

On July 26 Samuel Hargroves’ daughter typed “93rd Engineers and Alaska Highway” into Google’s search bar and found this website.  We received an email from Dr. Shirl Leverett that evening.  “Samuel Hargraves (Hargroves) served with the 93rd Engineers with Company F during WWII. He is my father.  Dad will be 97 years of age in … Continue reading Tech Sergeant Samuel Hargroves


Another Family Contact–Comeal Andrews

This story began back in July when Chris posted the following.  Read on for an update. One of the main goals of the website is to locate veterans of the highway project or their descendants.  Judith Baker contacted us yesterday.  Her Grand Uncle, Comeal Andrews, is in the 93rd Military Personnel portion of the site. He served in … Continue reading Another Family Contact–Comeal Andrews


Cardshark–Lt. Charles Parker

In one of my dad’s letters to my mother he writes of sharing a frigid tent with his friend Charles Parker.  The two young officers played checkers to take their minds off the cold. Turns out dad was even smarter than I thought…  Checkers was a really good choice.  They could have played poker, and … Continue reading Cardshark–Lt. Charles Parker


Heath Twichell. Historian of the Alaska Highway.

Heath Twichell’s father served with the 35th Engineering Regiment and then commanded the 95th Engineers on the Alaska Highway in 1942. When he retired from the Army, many years later, he planned to write a book documenting the Alcan project—and, indeed, he started work on that book. Health problems, though, intervened; he never finished it. … Continue reading Heath Twichell. Historian of the Alaska Highway.


Yukon Bear Mystery-Solved

My dad’s days on the Alaska Highway left a collection of photographs, and most of them are available on this website. Three of them, though, presented me with a conundrum. In these three photos, three different men pose proudly next to a scrawny dead bear. Clearly there has been a bear homicide, but equally clearly … Continue reading Yukon Bear Mystery-Solved


Finding Charles Parker

A year ago I was looking hard for members of the 93rd Engineering Regiment who might still be alive—or for their living relatives. I searched for names on line, narrowing the search with any scraps of data I had available. At that point, most of the names came from my dad’s letters; and, among others, … Continue reading Finding Charles Parker


Polly of Carcross

A stone at the edge of the Carcross cemetery proclaims: Under this sod lies a sourdough parrot. Its heart was gold, pure 14 carat. Polly now can spread her wings, Leaving behind all earthly things. She ranks in fame as our dear departed, A just reward for being good hearted.   Polly came over the … Continue reading Polly of Carcross


Photographing the 340th by James G. Phillips

He was born on Oct 27, 1918 in Roscommon, Michigan a town named after a county and town in Ireland. In January of 1942 he enlisted in the Army at Ft. Custer, MI. At Vancouver Barracks, WA he trained with the 340th Engineering Regiment. In Yukon Territory he served in Company A under Capt. Philip … Continue reading Photographing the 340th by James G. Phillips


Tech Sergeant Alfred R. Cesinger

A few weeks ago my email included a nice surprise.  Gary Orlando, of Yulee, Florida, found his grandfather’s name, Alfred Cesinger, here on the site and contacted me.  A Tech Sgt in the 340th Engineers, Cesinger helped build the ALCAN in 1942. Today my mailbox contained an even nicer surprise—a CD filled with photos and … Continue reading Tech Sergeant Alfred R. Cesinger


ALCAN Love Letters a Genesis of an Obsession

When my father, Tim Timberlake, graduated from the University of Maryland’s Engineering School and entered the Army as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant, he had no idea what lay in store for him. The year was 1941…


Ashel J. Honesty, SFC

If Captain Finis Austin was arguably the most interesting man in the 93rd, Company A Top Kick Ashel J. Honesty was one of the most important. In a way that only Army veterans can truly understand, a company commander commands, but his first sergeant runs the company.Food, clothing, shelter, morale, religious faith, —you name it–comes to a soldier—or doesn’t–at the sufferance of the sergeant who controls his life. Honesty intimidated even the junior officers of the regiment, as Mortimer Squires cheerfully admitted 70 years after the fact.


Captain Finis Hugo Austin, Chaplain

One of the most fascinating members of the 93rd Engineering Regiment was its only black officer, Captain Finis Hugo Austin. As was typical of the very few college educated black men who found their way into the Army as officers during the war, Captain Austin was a minister who served as regimental chaplain. Born in 1907 in Appomattox, Virginia, Austin made his way into the Army, to Camp Livingston, Louisiana and into what was then the 93rd throughout its time in the Yukon and, later through its service in the Aleutians.


Capt. Alfred O. Spencer

I constantly search various sources – especially Ancestry.com – for relatives of soldiers who were in the 93rd Engineers in 1942. And a couple of months ago I found an Alfred O. Spencer, Jr. who lives in Sweetwater, Tennessee. An Alfred Spencer had served as a line officer in the 93rd. I copied a photo of Alfred Senior and mailed it with a letter to the address in Sweetwater. Some weeks later, I received a call from Elizabeth Spencer, Albert Sr.’s daughter-in-law. He was, indeed, with the 93rd on the highway. And the family had a few photos and documents in storage.


Lt. Mortimer “Mort” Squires

A relative of Mortimer Squires was doing genealogical research when, frustrated with her results from Ancestry, she entered his name in Google. . . and found him on our travel blog. As Turner G. Timberlake’s fellow motor officer and very good friend, Mortimer is all over this blog. She called Mortimer’s daughter, Susan, and suggested that she check out the website. An hour later, out of the blue, I received a surprising and wonderful email message.


Ted and Audrey Laputka and Timber

On August 15, 1941, my father Turner “Timber” Timberlake and Ted Laputka, brand new 2nd Lieutenants, found themselves assigned to Company D of the 1307th Quartermaster Unit at Camp Lee, Virginia. They became best friends. Ted was dating Audrey “Mac” McNiff, a coed at Jackson College in Boston. Mac visited Ted frequently at Camp Lee. In the confusion of early 1942, Ted and Mac, now married, wound up at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Timber landed at Camp Livingston, Louisiana.


Ordinary Men Build A Legendary Road