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3 local students write book highlighting Idaho’s WWII involvement 75 years after it ended

Entrance to the U.S. Army Air base in Pocatello, circa 1945 | Bannock County Historical Society
POCATELLO (KPVI) — This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the ending of World War II and several local students are commemorating that milestone with a new book.
Three students at Idaho State University and their professor, Dr. Alex Bolinger, recently wrote a book highlighting eastern Idaho’s involvement in World War II. It’s called “Images of America: Idaho in World War II”
While the book covers all of Idaho, certain chapters put a spotlight on local involvement.
“Submarine development was done here in Idaho and also training for the sailors,” ISU student Ashley French, one of the contributing authors, says.
Pocatello was home to a USO Hut at that time that brought in naval guns for repair. The city’s involvement in the war effort led to the naming of a naval ship. A piece of that ship now sits in the Bannock County Historical Museum.
The book also mentions the Pocatello Army Airbase and some of the planes that they had at the time. The Aztec Eagles, the 201st Fighter Squadron known as the Mexican Air Force who fought alongside the U.S. during the war, trained at that airbase.
All of this lead to a change in the city’s demographics.
“Pocatello was the most diverse city in the state at the time. It doesn’t feel that way because it’s so small, but it’s been impactful,” ISU student Sophia Perry, another contributing author, says.
Perry read a letter from a Pocatello High School student to a World War II soldier at the Bannock County Historical Society’s meeting Tuesday night. It was a packed house and those in attendance learned something.
“It’s been a serious year too, Joe,” Perry read from the letter. “We’ve tried to be good Americans so that when you come back we won’t be ashamed to face you. You who have proved that you are good Americans. You’re surely a great bunch.”
“(This gives you) an idea of just how the whole community was involved in that effort and what kind of legacy that has left us with,” Bannock County Historical Society President Alren Walker says.
“Images of America” will be published in August just in time for the 75th anniversary of the war’s ending in September.

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