75 years ago today, Truman saved my uncle's life

Obie1

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Despite the devastating losses suffered by the Japanese defending the South Pacific islands including Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, and finally Okinawa, and the devastating firebombing of the home islands, the Japanese refused to enter into surrender talks. Reports back to the White House indicated that in all of these places (and others), the Japanese had literally fought to the last man. The next step was to invade Japan itself; estimate of US losses were raised to a million US troops. Truman, who had been president for all of four months and wasn't previously even informed of the Manhattan Project had to make perhaps the most difficult decision in presidential history. His decision to drop Little Boy on Hiroshima and later Fatman on Nagasaki killed immediately around 200,000 Japanese (mostly civilians), but ultimately forced unconditional surrender.
My uncle was to be part of the invading force and always credits the flyboys with saving his life. That same day, my dad was command pilot of squadron of B-24s flying a mission against Kagoshima. He witnessed the mushroom cloud from the Hiroshima blast, but had no idea what it was until later.
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Rob Boudrie

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but ultimately forced unconditional surrender.
Surrender was not unconditional. The one concession the allied powers made was not deposing the emperor. He should have been tried for war crime, but was given a pass as a term of surrender.[/quote]
 

Dennis in MA

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Oh. I thought like he actually pulled him from the path of an oncoming vehicle or something. My wife's grandparents marriage was saved by Jimmy Hoffa. No lie.

I wonder how much the firebombing contributed vs. the bomb. Only b/c the Japanese HAD to know we didn't have 40 of these new Aye-tommic bomb thingies. Japan was facing a winter of starvation. The bomb was probably the straw, but they weren't going to make it to Spring and we MAY not have had to invade any more. (Although we probably would. That was still the plan. We hadn't realized we could bomb enemies 100% into submission.)

IIRC, napalm was invented at Hah'vuhd.

I hadn't realized how old you were, Obie. Very cool info, though. My grandfather joined up in November of 1941. He was in Basic on 12/7. Shipped off to the S.P. in early 42. He was on a bunch of islands. Still had bayo scars on his back later in life. And rotated out through what is now Myles Standish Industrial Park. About 5 min from my house. LOL
 

LLF

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If we hadn't used the atom bomb in 1945 I probably wouldn't be here today. My father was in the Army during WW2. He served at Camp Rirchie in military intelligence as he had been born and raised in Germany. After VE Day he would have been sent to an invasion of Japan.
The two bombs killed anywhere between 129,000 and 226,000 people according to Wikipedia. That is less than one single Japanese atrocity, the Rape of Nanking, where the estimated death toll was over 300,000 Chinese civilians. I've gotten into a lot of arguments over the atom bomb but I will defend the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as long as I live.
 

Obie1

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Surrender was not unconditional. The one concession the allied powers made was not deposing the emperor. He should have been tried for war crime, but was given a pass as a term of surrender.
[/QUOTE]
True, and that turned out to be a good thing as Hirohito was instrumental in convincing the Japanese citizens to accept drastic changes. The Japanese did agree to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which include the phrase "unconditional surrender."
 

Obie1

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I hadn't realized how old you were, Obie. Very cool info, though. My grandfather joined up in November of 1941. He was in Basic on 12/7. Shipped off to the S.P. in early 42. He was on a bunch of islands. Still had bayo scars on his back later in life. And rotated out through what is now Myles Standish Industrial Park. About 5 min from my house. LOL

I am 64. Perhaps my generally childish comments confused you.
 

Inside Out

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My grandfather, too.

I remember reading that the Purple Hearts made for the expected invasion of Japan were so numerous (~1 million) that the ones being distributed to the wounded today are from that WW2 stock.

Even if not totally accurate/an urban legend, there is no doubt that the casualties would have been catastrophic.
 
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If we hadn't used the atom bomb in 1945 I probably wouldn't be here today. My father was in the Army during WW2. He served at Camp Rirchie in military intelligence as he had been born and raised in Germany. After VE Day he would have been sent to an invasion of Japan.
The two bombs killed anywhere between 129,000 and 226,000 people according to Wikipedia. That is less than one single Japanese atrocity, the Rape of Nanking, where the estimated death toll was over 300,000 Chinese civilians. I've gotten into a lot of arguments over the atom bomb but I will defend the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as long as I live.
Same here.

My grandfather was in the army when the war started, stationed at Ft Bragg. For some inexplicable reason, he and a few others were held back when the rest of his unit was sent to Africa. So he was made a drill instructor and then later in the war became a MP guarding German prisoners. But when the war in Europe was over he was told he was to prep for heading to invade Japan, seeing as how he had no combat experience for the entire war.

If we had had to invade Japan, I wouldn't be here. Thank GOD for the bomb.
 

daekken

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I remember reading that the Purple Hearts made for the expected invasion of Japan were so numerous (~1 million) that the ones being distributed to the wounded today are from that WW2 stock.
Based on some Googling, this does appear to be true. It seems the stocks may have run out in 2018 or so.

Still, insane. Interesting tidbit, thanks. Unfortunately my uncle sold my grandfather's medals from WW2 :(.
 

breslau

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Most likely my uncle also. He was 11th Airborne, 115th Parachute Infantry and jumped into Luzon on February 3rd 1945. They were then to be part of the invasion force but became among the first to occupy Japan after surrender. I have a boot knife he carried on that jump and a couple of other items he acquired during the occupation.
 

Dennis in MA

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If we hadn't used the atom bomb in 1945 I probably wouldn't be here today. My father was in the Army during WW2. He served at Camp Rirchie in military intelligence as he had been born and raised in Germany. After VE Day he would have been sent to an invasion of Japan.
The two bombs killed anywhere between 129,000 and 226,000 people according to Wikipedia. That is less than one single Japanese atrocity, the Rape of Nanking, where the estimated death toll was over 300,000 Chinese civilians. I've gotten into a lot of arguments over the atom bomb but I will defend the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as long as I live.

Well, you can't bomb the bejeebers out of the Japanese because we are upset over Nanking regardless of what they did. This isn't a playground fight.

I don't think it was a mistake, per se. It was what we had and it DID save American lives. Because that was that many fewer bombers that had to go over the Japanese Mainland again to kill just as many anyhow.

But the B-29 bombings were insanely effective. The bombing of Tokyo alone took out 100K people. The conflagration was so spectacular it was felt by the pilots. In May alone, Lemay's forces destroyed 1/7th of ALL of the urban landscape of ALL of Japan. 1/7th in one month.

It was always a matter of two bombs or 100 more nights of raids. (Which had stopped a month earlier. . . in part b/c they ran out of targets except for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)
 

rep308

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My father in law was a 22 year old Navy guy working on a supply boat in the Pacific. Three months before the bomb was dropped he was transferred and started training in beach landing invasions. The bomb was dropped and two months later he was home. He told this to us only on his deathbed making sure to tell everyone in the family.

The funny part was my son was in 2nd or 3rd grade at the time and then told his class his granddad dropped the bomb on Japan.
 

Shark_Cage

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My dad was at 29 Palms training for the invasion of Japan that November. He was a cook in the Navy and would have been in the second wave on the beach. The Marines training them for combat bluntly told them that out of 100 of them, 1 would survive.

At the same time my uncle was on a LST at Tinian when the Indianapolis dropped the bomb off. It was in one side if the airbase and the MP’s told them that they would be shot even if they got anywhere near that side. His boat barely got off the beach of Okinawa. He didn’t think they would return from Japan.
 
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northny

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My father was part of a medium bomber group in Army Air Corp that waged a warpath across the pacific. Rough Raiders and Air Apaches. The men of his generation all felt the two bombs were justified. The Tokyo olmpics weren’t watched or discussed by many because of emperors attendance.

I have video of a conventional bombing raid on Japan that shows entire shoreline in smoke and flames as planes pulled away. I have video of following day bomb damage assessment that shows everything just gone except Stone prison that held POWS, who were alive and on roof. So I have always thought that most people had no concept of the toll conventional bombing was taking on Japanese as Dennis in MA mentioned.

I’ve had chance while in Japan to speak with elderly Japanese who lived through war 2, And they would admit if they had the bomb they would have used it on us.
 

PatMcD

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My Dad also. He enlisted in Portland in late Spring of 1945. In basic training, the drill instructors told them "when you hit the beaches of Japan, you kill every living thing you see: old men, women, children, dogs. EVERYTHING! Because they sure as shit are going to be trying to kill you!". It scared the hell out of him.

Nevermind the naysayers. The bombs saved more Japanese than they killed.


Edit: his Engineering battalion was stationed in Japan directly after the war ended. He said the Japanese people were the nicest, most polite he'd ever met. He guarded "empty warehouses"in Kobe and was there during a bad earthquake. He wouldn't eat rice again till he died a couple years ago. Said "all we did was eat rice and play volleyball".
 
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Woodstock

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Excellent column by the brilliant professor Victor Davis Hanson lays out Truman's options, all of them crappy, and shows how the two atom bombs were the least crappy for everybody, including the citizens of Japan, who were training to fight to the death with sharp sticks if we invaded.
 

Shark_Cage

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The Truman Presidential Library have the actual meeting minutes when he and the his advisors (Forestall, Nitmiz etc) discussed the invasion of Japan and the level of casualties.

Very useful info to shut up the trolls who think the bomb wasn’t nessisary. That shit pisses me Off to no end.

If my memory is correct, they were looking at 30% US casualties for the first island (@250k) and the Japanese were suffering casualties at a rate of 22-1. Not that that mattered.
 
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2 of my Uncles loved Truman for saving them. One was on board ship off of Okinawa, waiting for his fleet to sail to Japan, to invade. The other was on board ship, headed to Guam as replacements. Both said they didn't feel they'd survive an invasion of homeland Japan. It's too bad we didn't have several more A-bombs in reserve.
 

Picton

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My grandparents met in the Marine Corps; he'd been a Dauntless mechanic since 1940, so he was fixing planes on airstrips all over the Pacific before he rotated back and met my grandma, a truck dispatcher at El Toro. She'd been the first woman in Syracuse, NY to enlist.

By the time the bomb was dropped, she was already pregnant with my mom. So they were both about to get out of the Marines anyway. She heard about it on the radio, and she was never able to say anything nice about Japan for the rest of her life.
 

graphite

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2 of my Uncles loved Truman for saving them. One was on board ship off of Okinawa, waiting for his fleet to sail to Japan, to invade. The other was on board ship, headed to Guam as replacements. Both said they didn't feel they'd survive an invasion of homeland Japan. It's too bad we didn't have several more A-bombs in reserve.

Same thing with my wife's uncle. He was in the Army as an artilleryman and was on a ship waiting to invade Japan when the surrender occurred. He wound up doing occupation duty instead. My wife still has a Japanese tea set and a woman's hand fan (the kind that fold like an accordion) he brought back and my brother-in-law has a couple of Japanese swords he brought back.
 

Obie1

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Same thing with my wife's uncle. He was in the Army as an artilleryman and was on a ship waiting to invade Japan when the surrender occurred. He wound up doing occupation duty instead. My wife still has a Japanese tea set and a woman's hand fan (the kind that fold like an accordion) he brought back and my brother-in-law has a couple of Japanese swords he brought back.
Interesting. My uncle also ended up with the army of occupation. He was a put in charge of the Geisha Houses. He always winked when he said it was the toughest duty he'd ever done. We have several of those fans, as well as a sake set.
 

cockpitbob

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My dad and my mom's brother. Dad enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and was on a destroyer in the Pacific. My uncle joined the Marines in 1945 and was slated to be part of the invasion force. Instead he was part of the occupying forces in Japan.

Interestingly, my uncle said the occupation of Japan was easy duty. When the Emperor said to fight to the last man, they did. When he said to lay down your arms and cooperate, they did. No significant insurgency, IEDs or other resistance.
 

PatMcD

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Interesting. My uncle also ended up with the army of occupation. He was a put in charge of the Geisha Houses. He always winked when he said it was the toughest duty he'd ever done. We have several of those fans, as well as a sake set.
My Dad sent these painted tiles home to his mom. They hang in my house now. 20200807_082422.jpg
 

beaker

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Yes, same for my uncle. 101st, jumped into France on D-Day. After Germany surrendered, they were waiting for orders for the invasion of Japan.
 

LLF

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Well, you can't bomb the bejeebers out of the Japanese because we are upset over Nanking regardless of what they did. This isn't a playground fight.

We didn't use the atom bomb because of Nanking. I mentioned that as an example of how when critics of the bomb lament the number of Japanese civilians killed, the Japanese killed many more. We had to beat Japan because ever since they stabbed us in the back on December 7 1941 they proved themselves to be a ruthless & deadly enemy that had to be totally defeated.

I don't think it was a mistake, per se. It was what we had and it DID save American lives. Because that was that many fewer bombers that had to go over the Japanese Mainland again to kill just as many anyhow.

But the B-29 bombings were insanely effective. The bombing of Tokyo alone took out 100K people. The conflagration was so spectacular it was felt by the pilots. In May alone, Lemay's forces destroyed 1/7th of ALL of the urban landscape of ALL of Japan. 1/7th in one month.
Even after the massive firebombings Japan refused to surrender. They were prepared to fight to the death. Air power alone was not going to end the war in the Pacific.

It was always a matter of two bombs or 100 more nights of raids. (Which had stopped a month earlier. . . in part b/c they ran out of targets except for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)
One of the best reasons to use the atom bomb was that it was almost totally unknown. The destructive power was unprecedented and different from anything we had used up until then. And the Japs didn't know we had only 2. As far as they knew we could have had a hundred or a thousand of these bombs. It was the atom bombs that finally brought the war to an end.
 
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