Our Stories

The Last Weather Observation
Charles Foster Jones

The Last Weather Observation

By NWS Heritage Projects Team (nws.heritageprojects.team@noaa.gov)

The following is adapted from an article that appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of the National Cooperative Observer newsletter:


NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) Joel Curtis of Juneau, AK, recently discovered the story of cooperative observer Charles Foster Jones, an NWS observer executed by the Japanese during World War II.

Location of Attu Island, AK
Location of Attu Island (image from Google Earth)

Jones' story was captured in a book entitled, “Last Letters from Attu,” which was sent to NWS Director Louis Uccellini.

Recognizing the significance of this distinct part of U.S. history, Curtis enlisted the NWS Communications team to create a commemoration worthy of the sacrifice Jones made.

Russian Orthodox church in Attu
Jones was initially buried next to the Russian Orthodox church in Attu following his 
execution, before later being removed to Fort Richardson National Cemetery near
Anchorage. (Library of Congress photo)

Jones lived with his wife, Etta, in the village of Attu in Alaska’s sparsely populated Aleutian Islands. His tenacity and bravery held fast when, after sending his final weather observation, he tried to alert officials that the Japanese had landed on June 7, 1942. He destroyed his radio to avoid its use by the enemy, and was executed when he refused their orders to repair it. He was the only civilian to be executed by the Japanese military in North America during World War II. He died on June 8, 1942. Etta was captured as a prisoner of war, and held in Japan for the duration of the war.

On September 7, 2017, NWS Leadership honored the families of Charles Foster Jones and of his wife Etta during a public event with 50-plus members of the local community in Saint Paris, OH, where his nephew, Donald K. Jones, lives. 

Inscription on commemorative plaque
Contents of the plaque given to Jones' family

Donald accepted the recognition plaque. A duplicate plaque will be displayed at the Gateway to NOAA exhibition adjacent to NWS Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. 

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