NEW YORK – Several U.S. veterans recount the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in interviews in the Aug. 1 issue of Time magazine, with one hoping “there is never, ever another time when we have to use” such weapons.
Theodore Van Kirk, navigator on the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, said ahead of the 60th anniversary of the attack, “All we saw in the airplane was a bright flash.
“We could make absolutely no visual observation because the entire city of Hiroshima was covered in black smoke and dust, debris that had been kicked up by the bomb and the blast,” the 84-year-old recalled. “Somebody said, and I thought, too, ‘This war is over.’ “
Morris Jeppson, 83, was a weapons test officer on the Enola Gay and talked about the mushroom cloud and destruction. “And that’s the point that it’s somber because you know a lot of people are getting destroyed down there with the city.
“No joy at that point,” he said. “But it was a job that was done.” Shortly after the Hiroshima mission, he said in response to a question from a navy officer, “I think we ended the war today.”
Frederick Ashworth, weapons expert on the B-29 Bockscar that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, remembers the bomber switching its target from Kokura to Nagasaki because the Kokura area was clouded over.
On the way back to Tinian Island, the 93-year-old said, “We tuned in to some local news and got word that the Japanese had approached the Swiss about surrendering. We were all pretty elated.
“I think that what we did was entirely the thing we had to do under the circumstances. It was a major contribution to the end of the war, and I was fortunate to have participated in it,” he added.
Charles Albury, 84, was a copilot on a B-29 that accompanied the Enola Gay to Hiroshima and on the Bockscar to Nagasaki, and flew a C-54 transport plane with Paul Tibbets, the Enola Gay pilot, into Nagasaki shortly after the war.
“I saw people looking out their windows at us. I saw a lot of hatred in their eyes, but I could also see that they were glad the war was over,” he said. “Inside the hospital, I saw a shadow on the wall — a person had obviously been walking by that wall when the bomb went off. . . . All I could keep thinking was, I hope there is never, ever another time when we have to use one of these.”
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