This month marks the 50th anniversary of the World War II battle at Midway in the Pacific, but it also is the half-century anniversary of the "forgotten war," fought off the coast of Alaska.

"Midway gets all the glory, but we should never forget the men who served in Alaska, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the rest of the Pacific. They did just as much to preserve freedom as those who served at Midway, Guadalcanal and other well-known places in history," author Donald M. Goldstein said during a visit to Salt Lake City.A University of Pittsburgh professor, Goldstein spoke this week to a gathering sponsored by the Utah State Historical Society and the Military History Society of Utah and was interviewed by the Deseret News.

The speaker is an international authority on Pearl Harbor and co-author of the best-selling books, "At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor" and "Miracle at Midway."

He said the war in Alaska between Japan and the United States has been called the forgotten war. He said not much happened militarily after the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and subsequently captured the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska. The islands were recaptured by the United States in 1943.

"But it was a GI war against the williwaw high winds, boredom, rain, poor living conditions, lack of recreation . . . which all typify a soldier's dilemma - which is hours and hours of boredom with moments of stark terror. In a way, this is what much of the war was about in the south Pacific."

Goldstein said approximately 2,500 Japanese were killed in the battle at Midway. Four aircraft carriers were sunk. The United States lost one carrier and several hundred men at Midway, often called the turning point of World

War II.

After the Midway battle, which began June 3 and continued through part of June 5, 1942, the Japanese landed troops on Kiska and Attu, occupying the Alaska islands for approximately 15 months. Many people still do not realize that event took place, Goldstein said.

He said many of the islands' aborigines were relocated to the Alaska mainland during the 1942 conflict. Many of the inhabitants died, he said, because they couldn't survive white men's diseases. Many of the aborigines' homes were looted by GIs who occupied their islands.

"When the Aleuts returned home in 1945 they were not treated very well. . . . They are very bitter, even today," Goldstein said.

The author said he believes World War II had a far greater impact on society than people realize. The war, for example, "educated America by providing a GI bill for people who would have never gone to college."

Goldstein, who served as an Air Force officer after World War II, said he believes it is time for America to forget World War II. Likewise, he said, it is time for the nation to pull out of Europe, but "a token military force should be left there.

"That doesn't mean we are going to disarm. It means we are going to be prepared to fight brush fires. . . . So we need a military, but a different kind of military. Pearl Harbor got us into a war, and it has kept us there for 50 years. It is time for us to evaluate that because we can't afford the cost of war.

"We need a Marshall Plan for the U.S.A. Europe can take care of itself; so can the Japanese."