Irwin’s Reunited with Alaska at Congress

By Lt. Michael Turnlund – 

“Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life,” was the theme as officers and soldiers of the Alaska Division gathered for their annual Alaska Congress. This year’s event was hosted by the Southeastern Native community of Angoon, located on Admiralty Island. Leaders were Divisional Commander Major Harold Brodin and Major Joann Brodin, director of women’s organizations, with guests Commissioners Ronald and Pauline Irwin of the Eastern Territory and Colonels Dennis and Noella Phillips of the West.

The people of the village demonstrated their famed hospitality with gracious spirit and readiness to help. CSM Cyril George (R) shared a Tlingit proverb, “Always be expecting something.” The words rang true throughout the Congress.

Irwin felt he had come home to “his village” and to “his people,” as the Irwins had been adopted by the Tlingit people nine years earlier. They were able to introduce the Phillipses, who led the Men’s and Women’s Rallies, to many local people.

Totem poles, native dances, and banquets featuring native foods such as dried fish and seaweed made Tlingit culture evident throughout the Congress.

The Home League Bazaar was a popular attraction, as guests were welcomed by Carlton Smith, president of the Anchorage Advisory Board. Each Home League in Alaska contributed fine crafts and art works for sale. On Saturday night, Envoy Craig Fanning of Kodiak led the Musical Extravaganza, where special musical talents were showcased. Irwin delighted the assemblage with “Away, Away With the Rum, By Gum!”

The Northwest Brass Band proved popular with delegates and community alike. Present for the 15th year were Territorial Music Director Ivor Bosanko and Mrs. Janette Bosanko, always an important element at the Congress. The high point of the evening wasn’t music, but the adoption of Lieutenant Nathan Newell, Anchorage ARP, into the Eagle Clan of the Tlingit people. Newell, whose Indian name is “Na-way-ya,” was very grateful for this high honor.

The World Services Ingathering, which has a special meaning in a division which is itself partly a missionary field, celebrated total divisional donations of over $121,400. An additional $866.19 was raised for the Lord’s work in an impromptu fundraiser around the drum.

During the Farewell Meeting, Irwin rallied the troops, encouraging all to abide fully with Christ. At the conclusion there was a great outpouring of Army spirit, with an extended “hallelujah windup.” Those who came “always expecting something” from the Lord were not disappointed!


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