One element of the program at the October 5 dedication of the AHS Veterans Memorial Plaza was presentation of plaques to the families of two Medal of Honor recipients with Anacortes roots. Those individuals were James Okubo (May 30, 1920 – January 29, 1967) and Gerald Young (May 19, 1930 – June 6, 1990). Okubo, who was born in Anacortes, served as a medic in WWII. Over the course of two days in October 1944, Okubo “crawled through multiple firestorms to treat 25 wounded soldiers. Five days later he ran 75 yards under a barrage of grazing machine gun fire after hearing the cries of a wounded crewman trapped in a burning tank. Dodging bullets, Okubo climbed into the tank, amidst smoke and heat and carried the man on his back to safety.” After the war he became a dentist. In 2001 the James Okubo Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington, was dedicated in his honor. Young served in the U.S. Air Force and moved to Guemes Island after his retirement. He was honored with the Medal of Honor as pilot of a helicopter crew that conducted a rescue in Laos on November 8, 1967. After his chopper was shot down, Young “declined to accept rescue because he had observed the enemy setting up automatic weapons positions to trap just such a rescue effort.” He evaded enemy capture for more than 17 hours until he was rescued. He received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson on May 14, 1968.
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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