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Long-awaited military discharge arrives 66 years late for former governor

Posted: May 6, 2013 - 11:01pm
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Sen. Dennis Egan talks Thursday in his Capitol office about receiving his father's discharge papers from the Alaska Territorial Guard. Egan's father, William Egan, was Alaska's first governor.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Sen. Dennis Egan talks Thursday in his Capitol office about receiving his father's discharge papers from the Alaska Territorial Guard. Egan's father, William Egan, was Alaska's first governor.

Before he presided over Alaska’s constitutional convention and long before he served three terms as governor, William A. Egan served in the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II. Cpl. Egan retired from the service after the war, on March 31, 1947, but he never received his discharge papers. His son, Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan, said Thursday that he had always believed the papers were lost in the 1964 Valdez earthquake, but the senator’s legislative intern, Keegan O’Brien, recently discovered that the papers had never been filed. After the intervention of Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Egan received his father’s discharge papers — backdated to March 31, 1947 — in the mail Wednesday.

“It’s 66 years later, and he’s finally discharged — honorably,” said Egan, an Alaska Army National Guard veteran. “I opened up this box, and I just — you know, I’m old, man — I broke down. I couldn’t believe it. And he never talked about it, his military stuff. They just didn’t talk about it back then.”

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