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Coast Guard Cleans Up Graffiti On World War II Bunker As Tagging Investigation Continues


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.

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.

“We scrubbed the tag off the bunker," said Lt. Brian Dykens, a Coast Guard spokesperson in Juneau. "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 removing the tag.  

“We have a rich history with Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, so it’s important to us to remain part of that community," he 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," said Dykens. "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. 

This story previously stated the U.S. Coast Guard painted over the graffiti. According to an update from Lt. Brian Dykens, the graffiti was actually scrubbed off. This story has been corrected to reflect the new information.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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