Copeland, John Eubank

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Copeland, John Eubank, born 28-02-1890 in Birmingham, Alabama and was a veteran of both World War I and World War II. In 1941, he became commanding officer of the U.S. Army’s 15th Regiment. From 1941 through 1942, he served as Commandant at Fort Ray on Sitka. Sitka was the location of a small refuelling station and seaplane base in the Alaskan panhandle, first established in September 1939. VP-41 with 6 PBY-5 Catalina was based here when war broke out.

From 1943 he was the  commander of Task Group 16 at the Aleutian Islands. The Aleutian Islands are an island arc of about 70 large and many small islands totalling about 6800 square miles (17,612 km2). About fifteen of these were large enough to be of military significance. They reach some 1100 miles (1770 km) from the Alaskan Peninsula to Kamchatka and lie just north of the great circle route from the Pacific Northwest to Japan. This would seem to make the Aleutians a natural highway for invasion from either side, and the Japanese seized Attu and Kiska, on the western end of the chain, during the Midway campaign. The Americans later expended considerable effort to eject the Japanese. However, the climate of the islands is sufficiently abominable that the Aleutians remained a secondary theatre for the rest of the war. Until 1946, he served as Assistant Commanding General over the 65th Infantry Division, nickname “Battle Axe “  which was also referred to as the “Battle Axe.” Casualty figures for the 65th Infantry Division, European theatre of operations, total battle casualties: 1.230 and total deaths in battle: 260. On 9 May, as hostilities officially ended in Europe, the troops of the 65th made contact with the Russians at Erlauf. From 1945 Copeland was the commander of the 65th Infantry Division.

Death and burial ground of Copeland, John Eubank.

In 1946, Brigadier General Copeland retired from active duty. John Copeland died at the age of 88 on 16-09-1978 in Birmingham and is buried on the OAK Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama.



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