Sixty-seven years ago, on Aug. 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the atom bomb at 8:15 a.m. on Hiroshima. The Japanese still remember the horror — the terrible loss of life and the many who were wounded in a new, horrifying way and the terrible destruction that left a lethal aftermath. And so the day is marked throughout Japan with memorials, protests and religious rites.
In this country, too many decry the day the U.S. used this devastating new weapon.
While recognizing the terrible effect of the weapon I welcomed it at the time — and still do.
On my heavy cruiser. I had a good view of the fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The air above was filled with Japanese planes wanting to dive on us and cause terrible casualties. If the Japanese would fight fiercely to the last man for these islands and their kamikaze pilots would give their lives to kill us, what would await when we invaded the homeland?
Well, now we know what we could have expected. History books have laid it out. The following is from the book, “Enola Gay,” by Gordon Thomas and Max Mitts.
President Truman gave the go-ahead for the invasion of Kyushu. Japanese intelligence had anticipated this. Reinforcements were being rushed there. Hiroshima was the headquarters for the repelling of the Americans.
“Four hundred thousand troops were readied for the invasion. The commander was the architect of Pearl Harbor. Five thousand marines were perfecting sea borne Kamikaze crafts. One-man crews would steer them into ships.
“Children were shown how to construct and hurl gasoline bombs. Enough bottles and fuel were being conserved to make over three million. Even the infirm were mobilized. The bedridden and wheelchair-bound were assembling booby traps to be planted on the beaches.
“Mount Futaba was burrowed from within for days to build a headquarters inside the mountain.
“Every man, woman and child was to have a weapon. Three millions gasoline bombs were readied.
“Hundreds of small suicide craft, most the size of rowboats, were being fitted with motors, filled with explosive and concealed in coves around the bay.
“Underground fortresses were all over the area.
“Gradually, the island of Kyushu was being turned into an armed fortress. The top Japanese generals and admirals knew the war was lost but they hoped to inflict such terrible casualties on the invaders that they could surrender without it being unconditional.”
Then the two terrible atom bombs were dropped. The military still wouldn’t surrender unconditionally. However, the emperor stepped in and demanded they do.
He saved many Japanese cities from suffering devastation and millions of Japanese lives.
The surrender also saved terrible casualties among the Allied forces. Many people are alive today because they were to be in the invading force. Their descendants were born and thrived.”
I was among that group. We were steaming toward Japan to come in from the north. We would have begun the bombardment that we hoped would soften up the defenses.
President Truman’s decision made sure that someday, I and many other World War II veterans, would have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In the end, the world was better off.
Sandy Oppenheimer is the former editor of the Bucks County Courier Times and publisher of the Burlington County Times
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