Sunday, May 29, 2016
THIS MEMORIAL DAY 2016
Obama’s visit to Hiroshima almost on this Memorial Day brought back memories of some 70 years ago when the Bomb almost had a major impact on my own life
At the end of the war with Germany the 17th having met the 1st Division to complete the encirclement of the Industrial Ruhr was now acting as occupation forces in that part of Germany.
We were in Duisburg adjacent to Essen and Dortmund on the Rhine. The one outstanding memory I have is of a four story air raid shelter with walls at least a foot thick which was filled with Polish indentured workers. As part of my responsibility for their well being I had to make sick call their daily. Our big worry was an outbreak of Typhus, which we luckily avoided, these poor souls wanted to be granted sanctuary in US held territory because they were afraid if repatriated to Poland the Russian would deport them to Siberia because they had been aiding the Germans. That is just what happened.
Our Division was being disbanded and we went to France for that to take place. Just after July 14th someone told me that my orders were on the Colonel’s desk so I went to get them. I was very happy that I was being assigned to the 82nd which was going to be the occupation forces in Berlin.
I took my orders and my jeep took me to the 82ndand where I formally signed in. Then I went back to get my stuff. When I got there an officer said my orders were changed and I was going by ship from Marseilles to the East to be part of the First Airborne Wing which was to make the initial assault on Japan.
I informed them I was now part of the 82nd` and they would have to get someone else.
They did! However his travel orders were changed and he was to go through the States to the Pacific coast and ship from there. He was en route when the Bomb was dropped, He stayed in the States and was discharged about 6 months before I was.
Although the two bombs resulted in hundreds of thousand lives lost, they brought about Japan’s surrender. Just imagine the American casualties if we had tried to land in Japan. Perhaps a million? But that would have been a brutal operation against a nation that was determined to defend itself to the last man and inch.