Restored WWII searchlight comes to Kodiak state park

KODIAK — A restored World War II searchlight has taken its place at the Kodiak Military History Museum and is now by a bunker that used to light the skies with similar technology.

Two volunteers with Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park found the searchlight in a field of searchlights in Oregon last year and spent months working to restore the historic piece and get it to Kodiak, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported. On Thursday, Chuck and Nancy Meitle and state park staff hauled the light from Pier 2 to the park.

The 5-foot-tall, 3,000-pound light was not used in Kodiak, but it is the same make and model as the ones used during the war.

The lights were used to spot things that turned up as blips on radar or they were beamed across a bay so that any ship entering the area would have to pass through the light.

The Matson shipping company donated the freight plus funds to help with the restoration effort in order to help the Meitles get the searchlight from their Oregon home to Kodiak.

Chuck Meitle said that except for a few small parts, much of the searchlight is the original, which was built in 1941 by the Sperry Company. He was able to keep the original glass covering the front, the metal housing and the mirror in the back.

The Meitles are also working on restoring a World War II-era generator that would have powered a searchlight. Once the generator is restored, the searchlight could potentially be lit with new wiring.

Preston Kroes, head of state parks in Kodiak, said they would like to restore the searchlight bunker in full and place the light in there, but it needs new doors and an extra gate for security.

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