Coast Guard cleans up graffiti on World War II bunker as tagging investigation continues

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mellon has painted over graffiti that was found on a Mount Ballyhoo bunker last month. (DMITRI DANE/ALEUTIAN ISLANDS PHOTOGRAPHY & U.S. COAST GUARD)

In Unalaska, the U.S. Coast Guard has cleaned up controversial graffiti that was found spray-painted on a World War II bunker last month.

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The slogan read: “#722LIFE. MORGENTHUGS,” which led many Unalaskans to suspect crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau.

The vessel was recently decommissioned after nearly 50 years of service, so the crew of another cutter — the Mellon — was assigned to cleanup duty last week.

“The tag wouldn’t scrub off, so we painted it in a color that’s similar to the bunker,” Lt. Brian Dykens, a Coast Guard spokesperson in Juneau, said. “You can’t really tell. You might notice if you saw it before, but it looks pretty good.”

Dykens said the Mellon’s crew got permission from the landowning Ounalashka Corporation before painting over the tag.

“We have a rich history with Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, so it’s important to us to remain part of that community,” Dykens said. “We wanted to clean up any damage that we may have caused.”

The Coast Guard hasn’t accepted full responsibility for the graffiti yet, because the matter is still under investigation.

“We’re just trying to track down who did it and why — and maybe learn from this incident,” Dykens said. “We know there are some bunkers that Coast Guard members can tag and some that we can’t. We want to make sure everyone’s clear on what we can and cannot do there.”

Dykens said he’s not sure when the investigation will end or if it’ll produce any conclusive findings. Now that the Morgenthau has been retired, he said Unalaskans can expect to the see the Mellon in port more often, along with the Bertholf and other west coast cutters.

These newer vessels have taken over the Coast Guard’s patrol of the Bering Sea.

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Laura Kraegel covers Unalaska and the Aleutian Islands for KUCB . Originally from Chicago, she first came to Alaska to work at KNOM, reporting on Nome and the Bering Strait Region. ( / 907.581.6700)

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