Baked Alaskans

Today’s History Nugget shows what happens to Alaskans when they experience sudden climate change via the United States Army.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner July 30, 1958


Beirut, Lebanon, July 30, (AP)—They are the unhappiest men in Lebanon—two Eskimos.

There isn’t an igloo in thousands of miles and the sun blazes a trail of tropical temperatures across the hot sands here. The two unlikeliest visitors in the world sat in a scorching sun.

“Mr. Chamoun can take back his invitation because I’ve had enough,” said PFC. Elmer Seetomona, 23, of Nome. “Mister, I’m sweating right out of my skin.”

His buddy, Pvt. Richard Jones, 23, of Wrangell quipped: “They always tell the joke about selling ice boxes to Eskimos. Well, I’m ready to buy one right here on the spot. I’ve lost 17 pounds in a week and my pants are getting bigger every day.”

“Charley Company” of the 187th Infantry Airborne Division sings the two Alaskans to sleep every night. The words:

“I hate to see that evenin’ sun go down.”

Up and down the lines the Army grapevine is passing: “We got two Eskimos up here. You want to see the saddest sacks in Lebanon. Come up and see them about noon.”

The Eskimos kept repeating:

“Just 288 more days in the Army. Just 288—and we are heading for the cool country—the biggest state in the union and it ain’t Texas.”

The two are praying for rain like Arabs in the hills. Every night the company gets together, and the two Eskimos peel off their clothes and steal down to the sea for a swim.

“Mister,” Elmer said, “There isn’t ever going to be another Eskimo join the Army when we get home. They make tailors into truck drivers. The Army even made mechanics into bakers. But nobody ever sent an Eskimo to the Middle East. This is one deal the Army never imagined in all its advertising.”

Elmer is a gold-miner and Richard, a teacher at a government school. What are their jobs in Lebanon? The hottest job in the place—carrying ammunition. Two Eskimos hauling ammunition in the Middle East—the hottest jobs in the world.

Note: Real Alaskans dream of their parkas and subzero weather no matter where they are in this crazy world! We would like to give these two a belated chilly Alaskan greeting: “Welcome Home Boys!” This History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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