Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, was one of four Alaska politicians recognized last month for his role in remembering the Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease Program.
"A lot of people in Alaska and elsewhere in the country, don't realize this happened," Chenault said. "If it hadn't been for the Lend-Lease Program, Russia probably would have fallen to Germany."
From 1941 to 1945, nearly $12.5 billion worth of war materials and other supplies were shipped to the Soviet Union via Alaska for use in the fight against Nazi Germany and its allies. Supplies went through Great Falls, Mont., to Fairbanks, Galena and Nome, where they were picked up by Russian soldiers and transported overseas to the war front.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the program, the Alaska-Siberia Research Center is working to erect memorial statues around the world. The center also founded the Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease Award in 2001 to recognize people and organizations that contributed to Alaska-Russia cooperation in the past and present or who had supported education about Russian-North American ties.
Chenault received the award after writing a House joint resolution in support of the memorial.
U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin were the first recipients of the award in November 2001. On Feb. 28, Chenault, Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, Rep. Richard Foster, D-Nome, and Rep. John Davies, D-Fairbanks, also were given the honor.
"It's nice to get the award, but I don't think I did anything more extraordinary than anyone else has done," said Chenault, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
"Occasionally, we get to do good things that remember the people and give recognition to people in the past who have helped keep our country free."
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