Dropping The Atomic Bomb - By Richard Russell - August 9, 2005

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb drop on Himoshima. The bomb resulted in 140,000 Japanese dead. And the belated arguments go oil as to whether tile US should have dropped the bomb. At the time, the war was over in Europe. The US had suffered massive casualties and tens of thousands dead. The war in the Pacific continued, and it was horrendous. The US had taken 27,000 casualties in seizing the 8 square miles of Iwo Jima from a garrison of 21,000 Japanese troops. The US learned the Japanese don't surrender, they were willing to die almost to the last man. Roughly 6,000 Japanese stood ready (all Volunteers) to fly the certain-death Kamikaze missions. The US had taken 49,000 casualties to capture Okinawa during three unbelievable months of fighting. Supporting the Okinawa battle, the US Navy lost or suffered damage to 350 ships, while 10,000 US sailors had been wounded or killed.

Meanwhile, the US military was working on plans to attack Japan itself. At the time Japan had 4 million well-trained soldiers, 2.4 million of them stationed in Japan. The US military believed an attack on Japan could cost an many as 250,000 casualties with at least 60,000 US dead. Some estimated a lot more, possibility as many as a million US casualties and dead.

I had just returned from combat in Europe and was scheduled to transfer from the B-25 Mitchell bomber to the faster Douglas A-26 "Invader" bomber. I was on a 30-day leave, following which I would be heading for the Pacific. My thought was --"I got through Europe, but is it possible that I could get out alive from the Pacific too? Could any bombardier be that lucky?"  I consoled my frightened parents by telling them what a great plane the A-26 was, "much faster and safer" then the B-25 (I loved the B-25, it could take a fearful beating and return home.)

And then the news of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came out and shocked the world, including the US military, who had no hint of the atomic bomb. Against the wishes of the Japanese military (who would have fought to the bitter end, they didn't believe in surrender), Japan's Emperor announced that Japan would surrender.

Every guy in the military that I knew was elated. And millions of American mothers and fathers looked to the heavens and thanked God that their kids were still alive. I went down to Time Square, and it was a total mad house. People were kissing each other, hugging each other, kissing strangers -- some were crying, others were drinking, hysteria reigned. I doubt if anything like that had ever been seen in New York before or since.

A few weeks later I got my discharge papers. Next day I went down to Washington Square and registered at NYU under the GI Bill.

Should we have dropped the bomb, or should we have invaded Japan the hard way? Don't even ask me that question. When I hear young people or academics arguing that to drop the bomb was inhuman and immoral I simply ask then where they were in 1945. I don't know where they were, but I damn well knew where they weren't. They weren't in the military in that fateful year 1945.

Richard Russell began publishing Dow Theory Letters in 1958, and has been writing the Letters ever since. Dow Theory Letters is the oldest service continuously written by one person in the business.