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U.S. Navy pilot registered as A-bomb victim

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) A state-run memorial hall in Hiroshima has registered a U.S. Navy pilot as a victim of the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945, completing the list of 12 U.S. POWs believed to have been killed in the attack, a local historian said Wednesday.

Ensign John Hantschel, 23 at the time of the bombing, was the last to remain unregistered at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, said Shigeaki Mori, 72, himself an A-bomb survivor.

Mori, who conducted research on such U.S. servicemen for over two decades, had requested on behalf of Hantschel’s family that his photograph be included in the memorial’s collection of the victims’ portraits.

Hantschel was captured after his fighter plane was shot down over the Seto Inland Sea off Yamaguchi Prefecture on July 25, 1945, and was taken five days later to a military headquarters in Hiroshima just 400 meters from ground zero, according to U.S. records.

As Hantschel’s record ends there, Mori assumed he was killed in the Aug. 6 bombing.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to find (relatives of) all of (the 12) in a big country like the United States,” Mori said. “But I did it out of sheer desire to console the souls of those who died in pain, just like Japanese.”