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A B-24 Gunner remembers the first atomic bombing.

This is my (simple?) story as seen through my own eyes. It was a beautiful day on Tinian as were most days when we were not deluged with rain. As I loaded and primed my upper machine guns I had a good view of that taking place on the next pad. That there was something extraordinary happening. Never before had I seen so many people watching and filming a single bomb as it was loaded onto a plane. As I remember, it was short fat bomb painted yellow. It was something new, but what?

The next day we made our own sortie over Japan. It was as we called it a milk run. By then Japan was so short on oil that they could not have a real defense. The ack ack was there putting black roses in the air that we flew through without any hits. It was as we returned to base that we learned about that yellow bomb.

We gunners and the radar operator were relaxing in the rear of the plane, something we could do in the comfort of the first pressurized airplane. The bombardier crawled through the tunnel to tell us of the news that had just come over the radio.

The bomb had hit and demolished Hiroshima. We knew that no nation could take such a pounding and continue the war. But this did not cause us to celebrate. I believe that each of us in our way felt a horror that a city and its people could be destroyed with one blow. We knew that soon we would return to our homes and not need that 35,000 bed hospital prepared for the invasion of Japan. It was only one of many spread over the islands. Still we felt no glee.

Early in September we flew supplies to a Japanese prisoner of war camp. On the way back we went out of our way to fly over Hiroshima. We were glad to look from 5000 feet rather than an upclose view. We were spared the enormity of it all.

The news reported that 50,000 people died. History records 100,000 died in the explosion and more were maimed, suffered from nuclear exposure, and many babies were born prematurely and with physical and mental defects.

After the bombing of Nagasaki, we knew we were going home, but at a very high price. +

See also:


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