Thursday, August 6, 2015

The first atomic bomb over Japan

Today's date marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, the first of 2 of these weapons used against Japan. The destructive blast obliterated everything within a 2-mile radius and caused unimaginable destruction over 5 square miles of the city.

As the leader of the United States, President Harry S. Truman made the final decision. The alternative favored by MacArthur and other top military advisors, was a massive invasion of the Japanese homeland. However, the projected cost of such an operation was a staggering million Allied causalities.

Hiroshima was the chosen target since it had been largely untouched by recent bombing raids, and it also provided the U.S. a location where the bomb's effects could be measured. While Truman preferred a strictly military target, some of his advisers believed that destroying an urban area would break the enemy’s will to continue the fight. Hiroshima was a strategic military target, as well. It provided a major port and supported a military headquarters.

The bomb, codenamed “Little Boy,” was dropped on Hiroshima from a B-29 Superfortress, Enola Gay, flown by Col. Paul Tibbets. This was the first nuclear weapon used in wartime. “Little Boy” was quickly followed three days later when the plutonium bomb, "Fat Man," was detonated over Nagasaki.

My dad, Frank Dolan, was stationed on Saipan, neighboring the island of Tinian where the bomb was assembled and from where the B-29s took off. He remembered well when the announcement came of the successful bombing of Hiroshima:
I was with a crew on a ship doing welding. At the announcement, all the men threw up their hats in rejoicing. And, they quit work for the day!

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