Skip to comments.YES, I'D DROP THE BOMB AGAIN
Posted on 05/25/2010 3:52:48 PM PDT by Repeal The 17th
Theodore Van Kirk is sitting at his desk in a detached bungalow in the gated community outside Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives. The room is cluttered with boxes, trinkets, shelves full of books on wartime history and photographs of planes on the walls...
(Excerpt) Read more at express.co.uk ...
The enola Gay, named by Tibbets after his mother, took off on August 6 at 2.45am. Van Kirk was navigator:
We did things the old-fashioned way, celestial navigation, telling your position by the stars. We had a dome up top of the plane to sit up in and shoot the stars with a bubble sextant. despite basic techniques Van Kirk navigated the enola Gay to its target 1,800 miles away 15 seconds later than scheduled. Fifteen seconds was damn good, thats all I can say.
A couple of lines stick in my mind, but not the books titles dammit.
One was when a U.S. diplomat was talking to his counterpart right after the war. The Jap said they had to surrender before America dropped a third bomb. The U.S. guy said that at the time we had no more. The Jap said “If we’d have known you had only two . . .” and then shut up but the import was clear.
The other was this statement (from a creaky memory) where a Jap General was giving a pep talk to his troops, “Yes, things look bad now but if we resolve to fight on, we will still win.” This was AFTER the second bomb was dropped.
One of my favorite ploys when I run into one of these “we were wrong to drop the bomb” types is to ask them, “Do you honest-to-God believe that Japan would not have used it on us to prevent an invasion?” Deer in the headlights time.
Easily back to the end of WWI, probably back to 1900 or before as the European "intellectuals" started arriving on our shores. History will most likely show that the damage they wreaked was far worse than what we have seen (so far) from Mexican illegals.
But on a personal level, how has Van Kirk coped over the years with the knowledge of the destruction the
bomb yielded? You do that thinking beforehand. You knew that when you were bombing over occupied France, over Africa you always knew that when you were dropping bombs out of aeroplanes a lot of people on the ground would be very seriously hurt. And civilians? Most of the Hiroshima victims were civilians.
The idea at the time was to destroy a nations will to fi ght and you werent dropping bombs in a pickle barrel, for chrissakes. You always recognised there were people on the ground: workers in a factory or civilians who could be killed by the bombs.
How difficult was that for him to deal with? If you could not deal with that you were worth- less as an aviator. You had to separate that in your mind or else you were no good. You couldnt have done the job.
He pauses then adds: Ive never found a way to fight a war without killing people. If you ever find that out let me know.
Forgot to add that when people who suffered under Jap occupation were asked if we should have bomber Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more often than not the reply was “Why did you drop only two?”
We had more in the pipeline. The U.S. expected to have another atomic bomb ready for use in the third week of August, with three more in September and a further three in October. On August 10, Major General Leslie Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, sent a memorandum to General of the Army George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, in which he wrote that "the next bomb . . should be ready for delivery on the first suitable weather after 17 or August 18." On the same day, Marshall endorsed the memo with the comment, "It is not to be released over Japan without express authority from the President." There was already discussion in the War Department about conserving the bombs in production until Operation Downfall, the projected invasion of Japan, had begun.
"The problem now [August 13] is whether or not, assuming the Japanese do not capitulate, to continue dropping them every time one is made and shipped out there or whether to hold them . . . and then pour them all on in a reasonably short time. Not all in one day, but over a short period. And that also takes into consideration the target that we are after. In other words, should we not concentrate on targets that will be of the greatest assistance to an invasion rather than industry, morale, psychology, and the like? Nearer the tactical use rather than other use.
My father was on Luzon retraining and refitting for the next invasion when the bombs dropped. The estimate of US casualties for the invasion of Hokkaido alone was one million. The Japanese people were being trained to attack troops with bamboo pikes and satchel charges. The Japanese government wes prepared to deploy war gases. There was a plan to release plague in southern California. The number of lives saved by dropping the atom bombs was IMHO well in excess of 10,000,000.
God bless Mr. Van Kirk. And thanks for the post.
My dad was...
I met a man who...
My Uncle was...
My mother-in-law was...
Well, my dad (RIP) was turned down for military service
due to his bad eyesight, but he did what he could.
He served in the merchant marines for 3 years (1943 - 1945)
in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
They mostly ferried supplies but also occasionally troops
to the staging areas for upcoming battles.
The biggest fear on the Liberty Ships were submarines
for which they were sitting ducks.
It was just the luck of the draw as to whether you met up with one or not.
He never felt worthy of any honor for what he did.
Any war is a terrible thing, and WWII had many horrid chapters.
To end the war, the bombs were used,
and I believe it was the right thing to do.
The alternatives were even more horrid.
The Merchant Marine was a very tough place to be in WWII. Losses were horrendous. Your Dad was a brave man and what he did was crucial to the success of the Allied war effort.
RIP indeed. We owe all these men a great deal.
The Cambridge Group (UK) tipped off the Red Chinese that Truman wouldn't use the bomb in Korea.
BTW: Tibbetts was next on the runway when the prior B-29 lost altitude upon takeoff and crashed into the ocean.
The crew were all lost.
Does that in any way mean we should not have developed the bomb? No. Even the slightest chance of Hitler with that weapon was enough to make the command decision for the Manhattan Project the right one.
The events leading up to the decision were actually quite stunning. The silence from Germany regarding atomic research was deafening after the scientists left in the latter 1930s. So much so that the imaginations of many allied top government and scientific folks took hold and viola, Hitler was on a crash course to build the bomb.
In fact, the exact exchange went as follows:
On October 11, 1939, Dr, Alexander Sachs, a personal friend of FDR, met with him in the Oval Office. Sachs had prepared an 800 word synopsis of a letter written by Dr. Leo Szilard and signed by Albert Einstein about the impact of Germany's nuclear program.
FDR never read the letter but scanned the synopsis. After sipping a bit of brandy and absorbing the content's high points, FDR spoke:
“Alex, what you are after is to see that the Nazis don't blow us up.”
“Precisely,” Sachs replied.
“This requires action,” said FDR. He called for his personal assistant and that's the moment the decision was made.
Can you imagine that conversation today? Scares me half to death pondering it.
In 1945, as the war was ending in Europe, we sent a special force of specialists, called the Alsos Mission, to discover what the Germans were up to. We surpassed them in 1942 according to their report.
At the end of the war, their program was essentially a contingency operation with a few scientists and engineers working on a heavy-water-moderated reactor.
After being moved around a lot during the war, the reactor pot, measuring 83 inches tall by 83 inches wide, wound up in a cooling cellar of a castle in the town of Haigerloch. It's now a tourist attraction — open 9 to 5 daily.
Put another way, where do you even start with such a person? He has visited Japan, and thinks the dropping of the two bombs is one of the greatest historical wrongs ever done to any people on earth. I dont want to write a book-length email back to him, and Im not sure that would do any good. Brevity is the soul of wit, and a short reply is likely to make a stronger impact on him than a very lengthy one.
There are some ideas already on this thread I can use. If anybody has anything to add, Ill be profoundly appreciative. Im going to be in and out, so I may not be able to thank Freepers as quickly as Id like. So thank you in advance!"
Keep the reply as simple as possible, I'd go with what Walter would say to someone like him:
That sounds about right.
A cease fire was announced in 1953 and so it continues today!
Pattons mysterious death still haunts me.. History could have been alot different if Ole Blood and Guts may god bless him, lived and was not murdered.
Thank you SOOO much for your reply! I’ve learned a few things about the bombs over the years, but I realize there is so much I don’t know. Your post was jam packed with purely excellent information. I can’t thank you enough!
Most Americans did what they could and gave their best. My father was too old to step forward (born 1906) but had been a pilot for CNAC in China before the war.
He found a place in the CBI as a civilian pilot, flying the Hump in a C-46.
He was burned in a crash landing, received treatment at an Army hospital stateside but never received veteran’s benefits or recognition.
Thank you VERY much!! That thread looks like a treasure trove of information. I’d have never found it on my own. Between it and some of the other posts, I feel I am very close to being able to put together a compelling reply.
[For the record, this is a very nice person with very decent motives. He’s just had no education to speak of, and critical thought and he simply have never crossed paths. He’s open to learning, though; he went from being a Man-made Global Warming true believer to a chagrined skeptic calling B.S. all over the place. So time and effort isn’t wasted on him, but sometimes additional resources are required. You all have come through in spades. Thank you!!]