Soviets Are Holding ‘The Wanderer’ on Bering Sea Island

Associated Press

The Soviet Union has acknowledged that it has in custody a San Francisco man who wandered across the U. S.-Soviet border on the Bering Sea ice pack last week, a U. S. Senate aide said Thursday.

The Soviets said John Weymouth is in good health, and will be released at Little Diomede Island next week, said Steve Hansen in the Washington office of Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska.

Weymouth, 33, dubbed by Alaska villagers as “The Wanderer” for his hikes across Alaska, strolled away from Little Diomede on April 2, heading west toward the Soviets’ Big Diomede Island.

‘None of Your Business’


“He was confronted by these villages and asked where he was going. He said ‘None of your business,’ and kept walking toward Big Diomede,” 1st Sgt. Tim Litera, an Alaska State Trooper in Nome, said earlier this month.

Villagers in Little Diomede reported hearing explosions and gunfire on the bigger island after Weymouth’s departure.

The two islands, about three miles apart in the Bering Strait, are the closest land points between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Big Diomede has no civilian inhabitants but the Soviet Union keeps a military base there. Americans normally are forbidden to travel to the island.

The unexplained stroll capped a months-long odyssey down the Yukon River and across western Alaska by the reclusive young man, a nephew of San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen and son of the late photographer Mason Weymouth.