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Veterans Stories – The Atomic Marine

An eye-witness story concerning Desert Rock!

William R. Ablan, pen name of Richard L. Muniz

“They put us out in the middle of nowhere.” Sheriff Toby Madrid had his hands wrapped around a cup of black coffee, his feet up on the desk. The casual laid back attitude belied the tension in his jaw. He also wasn’t looking at JR or me as he spoke, but at the wall. It was almost that if he looked at us, he’d never finish talking about what he had to say.

“They told us we were there to be part of an atomic bomb test.”

welcometodesertrockThe test the Sheriff was talking about was part of what we know today as the Desert Rock Exercises.  My research seems to single him out for what was called Desert Rock IV, or a series of tests called Operation Tumbler-Snapper.

From 1951 to 1957, at the Nevada Proving Grounds, a small camp called Camp Desert Rock was built. Its job was…

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Home Front / Bomb Testing / part one

Desert Rock Camp

This is the first of a 3-part series about the nuclear bomb testing done on U.S. soil.  This part is the basic overview, the next 2 posts will cover more in detail.

Operation Buster–Jangle was a series of seven (six atmospheric, one cratering) nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States in late 1951 at the Nevada Test Site, Desert Rock Camp. Buster-Jangle was the first joint test program between the DOD (Operation Buster) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (Operation Jangle). As part of Operation Buster, 6,500 troops were involved in the Operation Desert Rock I, II, and III exercises in conjunction with the tests.

Desert Rock I, II, III

Observer programs were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shot Dog. Damage effects tests were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle to determine the effects of a nuclear detonation on military equipment and field fortifications.

Desert Rock IV

Observer programs were conducted at shots CharlieDogFox, and George. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots CharlieDog, and George. Psychological tests were conducted at shots CharlieFox, and George to determine the troops’ reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock V

Exercise Desert Rock V included troop orientation and training, a volunteer officer observer program, tactical troop maneuvers, operational helicopter tests, and damage effects evaluation.

A bomb named Buster

Desert Rock VI

Observer programs were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1, and Apple 2. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots Bee and Apple 2. Technical studies were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1Wasp PrimeMet, and Apple 2.

A test of an armored task force, RAZOR, was conducted at shot Apple 2 to demonstrate the capability of a reinforced tank battalion to seize an objective immediately after a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock VII, VIII

Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots HoodSmoky, and Galileo. At shot Hood, the Marine Corps conducted a maneuver involving the use of a helicopter airlift and tactical air support. At shot Smoky, Army troops conducted an airlift assault, and at shot Galileo, Army troops were tested to determine their psychological reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

The last two tests, Operation Jangle, evaluated the cratering effects of low-yield nuclear devices. This series preceded Operation Tumbler-Snapper and followed by Operation Greenhouse.

11th A/B shoulder patch

Four U.S. Army units took part in the Operation Buster–Jangle “Dog” test for combat maneuvers after the detonation of a nuclear weapon took place. These 11th Airborne units consisted of:

  1. 1st Battalion 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment/11th Airborne Division
  2. 3rd Medical Platoon /188th Airborne Medical Company
  3. Platoon Company A/12th Engineering Battalion
  4. Battery C /546th Field Artillery Battalion

Personnel were instructed to create foxholes, construct gun emplacements and bunkers in a defensive position 11 km south of the detonation area. After the nuclear bomb was detonated, the troops were ordered to move forward towards the affected area. While traveling closer to ground zero, troops witnessed the nuclear weapon’s effects on the fortifications that were placed in the location in preparation for the tests. The ground troops got as close as 900 meters from ground zero before they were instructed to move out of the area. The Human Resources Research Office was tasked with gathering data on the psychological experiences of the troops after witnessing such a detonation and moving closer towards the affected area.

For the Operation Buster–Jangle series of tests, the Atomic Energy Commission created a set of criteria that must be followed if exposing armed forces, or civilians to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

to be continued……

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George “Chip” Chiappetta – Morgan Hill, CA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 36 y.)

Harold Drews – USA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., K Co./3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Hungnam)

Javier Guttierrez – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Mike “Mad Mike” Hoare (100) – brn: Calcutta, IND; Royal Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd Recon Regiment, Major

Warren Kirsch – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII / USMC, Korea

Edward Nalazek – IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Antonio Rodriguez – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Frank Stevens – Cordova, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 radar specialist

Clarence Wells – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 803rd Aviation Engineer Battalion

Martin D. Young – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, fireman 2nd Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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The 4th Spy at Los Alamos – conclusion

Los Alamos and the Seborers

The new documents show that Mr. Seborer worked at the heart of the implosion effort. The unit that employed him, known as X-5, devised the firing circuits for the bomb’s 32 detonators, which ringed the device. To lessen the odds of electrical failures, each detonator was fitted with not just one but two firing cables, bringing the total to 64. Each conveyed a stiff jolt of electricity.

A major challenge for the wartime designers was that the 32 firings had to be nearly simultaneous. If not, the crushing wave of spherical compression would be uneven and the bomb a dud. According to an official Los Alamos history, the designers learned belatedly of the need for a high “degree of simultaneity.”

David Greenglass, Los Alamos spy

Possible clues of Mr. Seborer’s espionage lurk in declassified Russian archives, Mr. Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute said in an interview. The documents show that Soviet scientists “spent a lot of time looking into the detonator-circuitry issue,” he said, and include a firing-circuit diagram that appears to have derived from spying.

Greenglass implosion diagram

The diagram shows an implosion bomb. Several labels of the schematic diagram appear first in English, then Russian. In a 2012 analysis, Mr. Wellerstein described the order as “betraying their obvious roots in espionage.” The English labels include “Power Supply” and “Fusing Unit.” In a follow-up analysis, Mr. Wellerstein concluded that Igor Kurchatov, the head of the Soviet bomb project, drew the schematic for Lavrenty Beria, the head of Stalin’s secret police.

The Soviet diagram was dated June 1946, four months after Mr. Seborer left Los Alamos. It shows pairs of wires running from an electrical controller to detonators on the bomb’s exterior — a clear echo of the American reliance on redundant firing circuits.

The main appeal of implosion was that it drastically reduced the amount of bomb fuel needed. The dense metals were hard to obtain and far more valuable than gold. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were roughly equal in destructiveness — but fuel for the Nagasaki bomb weighed just 14 pounds — one-tenth the weight of the fuel for the Hiroshima bomb. The secret of implosion thus represented the future of atomic weaponry.

Slowly, nuclear experts say, bomb designers cut the plutonium fuel requirement from 14 pounds to about two pounds — a metal ball roughly the size of an orange. These tiny atomic bombs became enormously important in the Cold War, because their fiery blasts served as atomic matches to ignite the thermonuclear fuel of hydrogen bombs.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed some 80,000 people. But hydrogen bombs can pack 1,000 times the destructive energy — a terrifying fact of atomic life that generated widespread fear of mutual annihilation. A single SS-18 missile, the Cold War’s deadliest Soviet weapon — Western intelligence agencies called it Satan — could easily fire 10 or more hydrogen warheads halfway around the globe.

If the 1956 documents shed light on Mr. Seborer’s crime, they do little to explain why the United States kept the nature of his job and likely espionage secret for 64 years.

One possibility was domestic politics. Several atomic spy scandals shook the nation in the early 1950s, staring with the arrest of the first Los Alamos spy. His testimony led to the capture of the second, and to the execution of the Rosenbergs. The anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era reached a fever pitch between 1950 and 1954. President Dwight Eisenhower, who had put himself above the fray, began to fight back with information leaks and administrative fiats.

Morris and Jack Childs, 1954

The story of Oscar Seborer’s atomic espionage is found in a few dozen easily overlooked pages scattered among tens of thousands of pages of FBI files released in 2011. The rest comes from partially released FBI files on Oscar and Stuart that document Operation SOLO, the codename for the FBI’s recruitment and direction of two communist brothers, Morris and Jack Childs, as informants inside the senior leadership of the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) from 1952 until 1980.

Mr. Klehr of Emory said it was late 1955 when the F.B.I. first uncovered firm evidence that Mr. Seborer had been a Soviet spy, prompting the inquiry that led to the Los Alamos correspondence of Sept. 1956. A presidential campaign was then underway, and the last thing President Eisenhower needed was another spy scandal. The same held true in 1960, when Mr. Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon, fought John F. Kennedy for the White House.

He noted, too, that much F.B.I. information about the Seborers had come from a hugely successful undercover operation known as Solo, which had infiltrated the American Communist Party in the 1950s and continued the monitoring as late as 1977. Most likely, the bureau wanted to do nothing that might risk revealing the identities of its informants.

While the F.B.I. remains tight-lipped, the C.I.A. has shown considerable pride in helping publicly unmask the fourth spy at wartime Los Alamos, perhaps in part because more than seven decades have now passed since Mr. Seborer first entered the secretive site in the New Mexico wilderness.

On Jan. 24, the intelligence agency gave Mr. Klehr and Mr. Haynes an award at C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia for an outstanding contribution to the literature of intelligence. Mr. Klehr, 74, said he and his colleague were delighted with the official recognition of their work. Even so, he said the two men foresaw a need for more research, despite having stumbled on the Seborers seven years ago and having already done much to unveil the hidden drama.

“There’s still a lot to learn,” he said.

This article was condensed from the records of the CIA.

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Military Humor – 

WAS KILROY A SPY TOO?!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kathleen Condliffe – Waipukurau, NZ; WAAF # 82629

Donald Emmons Sr. – Bay Minette, AL; US Navy, WWII

Paul Gualtieri – Prairie Village, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, SSgt., 58th Bomber Wing, radar

John Kildow – Post Falls, ID; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, Korea

Betty McAdams – Albion, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

George T. Millson – Snobomish, WA; USMC, WWII, Korea / US Air Force, Vietnam

Dewey Partin – MIddleboro, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Dorothy Romer – Mindin, NE; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Ronald E. Shay – King City, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Miguel Villalon – Brownsville, TX; US Army, combat engineer, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Research for Stefaan…..  click on images to enlarge.

Camp MacKall

New Guinea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I heard back from one contact, Matt Underwood, last night – here is an excerpt from that letter…..

Jeeps assigned to HHQ Co., 187th Glider Infantry Regt., would be if there were 2 jeeps assigned, then each bumper would look the same except one would end in a 1, and the other in a 2.
I will try to find the formula this fellow needs and get back to you by this upcoming Monday, mid-day.  Hopefully, I can find it tonight.  But even this information in this email here may help him to figure it out on his own.  Really and truly, the motor pool of the 11th Airborne Division and its elements would have used the same formula as every other Army unit….meaning, if he can find several examples of other unit markings, he can probably begin to learn how to alter them into similar form for the 11th A/B.

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The 4th Spy at Los Alamos – part 1 / Cindy Bruchmann book review

Last fall, a pair of historians revealed that yet another Soviet spy, code named Godsend, had infiltrated the Los Alamos laboratory where the world’s first atom bomb was built. But they were unable to discern the secrets he gave Moscow or the nature of his work.

However, the lab recently declassified and released documents detailing the spy’s highly specialized employment and likely atomic thefts, potentially recasting a mundane espionage case as one of history’s most damaging.

It turns out that the spy, whose real name was Oscar Seborer, had an intimate understanding of the bomb’s inner workings. His knowledge most likely surpassed that of the three previously known Soviet spies at Los Alamos, and played a crucial role in Moscow’s ability to quickly replicate the complex device. In 1949, the Soviets detonated a knockoff, abruptly ending Washington’s monopoly on nuclear weapons.

Stuart Seborer

The documents from Los Alamos show that Mr. Seborer helped devise the bomb’s explosive trigger — in particular, the firing circuits for its detonators. The successful development of the daunting technology let Los Alamos significantly reduce the amount of costly fuel needed for atomic bombs and began a long trend of weapon miniaturization. The technology dominated the nuclear age, especially the design of small, lightweight missile warheads of enormous power.

Mr. Seborer’s inner knowledge stands in contrast to the known espionage. The first Los Alamos spy gave the Soviets a bomb overview. So did the second and third.

Mr. Klehr, an emeritus professor of politics and history at Emory University, said the new information cast light on a furtive boast about the crime. Last fall, in the scholarly paper, the two historians noted that Mr. Seborer fled the United States in 1951 and defected to the Soviet bloc with his older brother Stuart, his brother’s wife and his mother-in-law.

Ship manifest

The paper also noted that an F.B.I. informant learned that a communist acquaintance of the Seborers eventually visited them. The family lived in Moscow and had assumed the surname Smith. The visitor reported back that Oscar and Stuart had said they would be executed for “what they did” if the brothers ever returned to the United States.

Last fall, the historians described the Seborers as a Jewish family from Poland that, in New York, became “part of a network of people connected to Soviet intelligence.” Both Oscar and Stuart attended City College, “a hotbed of communist activism,” the historians wrote.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Stuart took a math class there in 1934 with Julius Rosenberg, they reported. In a notorious Cold War spy case, Mr. Rosenberg and his wife, Ethel, were convicted of giving the Soviets atomic secrets. In 1953 they were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y., orphaning their two sons, ages 6 and 10.

The scholarly paper, written with John Earl Haynes, a former historian at the Library of Congress, appeared in the September issue of Studies in Intelligence. The journal, a C.I.A. quarterly, is published for the nation’s intelligence agencies as well as academic and independent scholars.

The Times’s article ran on Nov. 23, a Saturday. Four days later, a reporter sent the scholarly paper to Los Alamos and asked if the lab’s archive had any photos of Mr. Seborer or relevant documents.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 10, the lab emailed 10 pages of newly declassified documents from 1956. The material consists mainly of a correspondence between a top security official at Los Alamos and the lab’s branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that oversaw the weapons development site. The letters discussed an F.B.I. investigation of Mr. Seborer’s espionage but gave no specifics on what he may have delivered to Moscow. Instead, the exchange dwelled on the secrets available to him.

The documents include pages from a 1945 Los Alamos telephone directory as a way of confirming the suspect’s lab employment.

All three previously known Los Alamos spies told the Soviets of a secret bomb-detonation method known as implosion. The technique produced a bomb far more sophisticated than the crude one dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. A prototype of the implosion device was tested successfully in the New Mexican desert in July 1945, and a bomb of similar design was dropped on Nagasaki weeks later, on Aug. 9. Four years later, the Soviets successfully tested an implosion device.

The early bombs relied on two kinds of metallic fuel, uranium and plutonium. The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima worked by firing one cylinder of uranium fuel into a second one, to form a critical mass. Atoms then split apart in furious chain reactions, releasing huge bursts of energy.

In contrast, the implosion bomb started with a ball of plutonium surrounded by a large sphere of conventional explosives. By design, their detonation produced waves of pressure that were highly focused and concentrated. The waves crushed inward with such gargantuan force that the dense ball of plutonium metal was compressed into a much denser state, triggering the atomic blast.

To be continued………..

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Book Review – “Inside The Gold Plated Pistol”  by: Cindy Bruchmann

I am not adept at doing book reviews and I rarely do one for a fiction piece, but our fellow blogger and U.S. Navy Veteran, Cindy Bruchmann, has created a very unique volume.

Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, Cynthia Bruchmann

As characters are being introduced, you are following the plot through the eyes of that person.  With each view, the story-line progresses.  Early on you will discover what is Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, but you will need to continue reading to see what becomes of the people surrounding the mystery.

I enjoyed Cindy’s insistence on researching 1928 and on into the 1930’s era.  The Native American relationship with the white man (or woman).  Her use of detail only enhances the tale.  I was amazed to learn that Hershey’s Kisses were around that long ago, what the movie industry was like or that Bob’s Big Boy diners started back then – who knew?

I don’t think I should continue any further, lest I give huge spoilers away – and that is not my intent.  But I do hope I piqued your interest!!

Check it out!!

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Military spy Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John T. Avella – brn: Solopaca, ITA/Tom’s River, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 405th Infantry, Bronze Star

George Correia Sr. – Tiverton, RI; US Navy, WWII

Verne Hinkle – Jackson, MI; US Army, WWII, infantry

Andrew Klein – Forest Grove, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. JG, USS Sanborn, navigator

Ruth McVaden (100) – MS; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, Specialist, nurse

John J. Murphy – Chicago, IL; US Air Force, Vietnam, jet engine mechanic

Ryan S. Phaneuf – Hudson, NH; US Air Force, Afghanistan, Captain, 37th Bomb Squadron, KIA (E-11 crash)

Charles Ruggles – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII,PTO, Co. I/511/11th Airborne Division

Lester Sanders – San Augustine, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Ryan K. Voss – Yigo, Guam; US Air Force Afghanistan, Lt. Col., HQ Air Control Command, KIA (E-11 crash)

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What would become known as: The Bomb

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the “Indianapolis.” The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye

Sadly, four days later, the ‘Indianapolis’ was hit by three torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:
Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:
Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

After takeoff, they met up with their two escort planes, ‘The Great Artiste,’ which carried scientific equipment and Number 91 (never named) carrying photographic gear.

men of Enola Gay

men of Enola Gay

6 August 1945, “Enola Gay,” dropped the first atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, on the city of Hiroshima, killing 180,000 people. The B-29 bomber was piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, Jr. and First Lieutenant Morris Jeppson. The crew was required to wear special goggles after the bomb was released to avoid blindness. Due to the lack of information, the crew of the Enola Gay did not expect to return from their bombing mission. The Manhattan Project (two cities built to develop the weapon) originally cost two billion dollars (The equivalent today would be approximately 27 billion.)

All clocks in Hiroshima stopped precisely at 8:15 am.

Bomb released on Hiroshima

Bomb released on Hiroshima

Hiroshima University surprisingly stood intact after the explosion presumably due to its completely white veneer, but for some unknown reason its clock had eerily stopped at 8:15 — the previous day.

The Emperor, throughout his life, had been described as looking like a small town mayor, completely unselfish, without vanity or ambition. He had always wished to be a marine biologist rather than a monarch. As Emperor, once the military leaders and the cabinet made a decision, he could not withhold his support. He had never wanted war, but had complied. (To explain the complex layout of the Japanese government at that time would require much more room than we have here.) Once the atomic bombs were dropped, the Emperor threw tradition to the wind and emphatically insisted upon peace. This would cause a civil war of sorts with the government.

Emperor seeing Hiroshima for the first time.

Emperor seeing Hiroshima for the first time.

8-9 August, at midnight, the Soviets declared war on Japan and Manchuria. This was contrary to their original agreement to wait until the 15th of the month. It became obvious to all that Stalin was now making his agenda quite clear as to his wish for the “spoils of war.” Truman, who had wanted the Soviets in the war, now realized that they would be a hindrance.

9 August, ‘Bock’s Car’ dropped the next atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” which was nicknamed after Churchill or Sidney Greenstreet’s character in “The Maltese Falcon,” there are two conflicting stories. The bomb killed 80,000 people. This second bomb was different in that it was a spherical plutonium missile, ten feet long and five feet in diameter. The plane made three unsuccessful runs over the city of Kokura, but due to the lack of visibility, they went on to Nagasaki. Jake Beser, an electronics specialist, was the only crew member
to make both atomic bomb runs.

navigator's view, Nagasaki bombing

navigator’s view, Nagasaki bombing

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Always sad to see another veteran pass on …

11th Airborne Obituary

11th Airborne Obituary

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Resources: Pacific War On-line Encyclopedia; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; “The Last Great Victory’ by Stanley Weintraub; “VFW Pictorial History of WWII”; AOL Images; Palm Beach Post.

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Remeber to click on a photo to view more clearly.

Truman and the Potsdam Conference

Potsdam Conference

Potsdam Conference

“Operation Iceberg,” the invasion of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945 and would basically end 22 June. Many are unaware that small skirmishes continued even after the 11th Airborne Division landed on that island. But … as we enter into July, others matters begin to develop.

Harry S. Truman did not have the outstanding record that most people look for in a president. He had poor eyesight and was unable to complete a 4-year college. Later, he failed as the owner/operator of a small mining and oil business, as a farmer and then as a haberdasher. (In my opinion, that only left politics as an option.) HST was elected to the Senate with the assistance of the corrupt Thomas J. Pendergast and proved to be an unimportant legislator. His only military achievement was in successfully tightening up the discipline of the rag-tag outfit he was given. He was chosen as the Vice-Presidential candidate because southern democrats liked him and FDR needed those votes. (I’m afraid these facts were located during research, they are not my own thoughts – unless specified.)

The 7 points of the Potsdam Proclamation

The 7 points of the Potsdam Proclamation

This was the man sent to Germany, sailing on the “Augusta” with Secretary of State, James Byrnes and Admiral Leahy to attend the Potsdam Conference to begin on 17 July 1945. The primary agenda for the massive meeting dealt with the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories. The code name for this conference was “Terminal,” with Stalin, Churchill and Truman representing the three major powers.

16 July was significant in that the Atomic bomb was successfully tested, exploding the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT and a blast point of 750 degrees F. Oppenheimer would then prepare the test results for his report to Henry Stimson in Potsdam. Truman confided the news to Churchill and the two rulers instantly decided that at least two bobs would be dropped on Japan. This decision was made despite the arguments of Adm.Leahy, General “Hap” Arnold and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who strongly spoke against it’s use, calling it completely unnecessary. Many of the scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project felt that such a dramatic scientific discovery should not be used. The petition, “…the liberated forces of nature for the purpose of destruction … open the door to an era of devastation …,” was signed by 57 scientists. They had the foresight to visualize the nuclear problems that we face today, but their qualms went unheeded.

The Potsdam Proclamation demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, but did not make mention of two clearly important issues – (1) that the atomic bomb was is existence and (2) whether or not the Emperor would retain his seat in the palace. Both of these provisions would have clarified the true situation for the Japanese Army. Many, on-site at Potsdam, believe that the Japanese were purposely and maliciously misguided.

26 July, the same day that Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill in the election for Prime Minister, the Potsdam Declaration was sent to the enemy. The exact wording of this document made it unthinkable for Japan to accept. Once again, the lack of understanding for a foreign culture would hinder the road to peace.

page of the Potsdam Declaration

page of the Potsdam Declaration

Keep in mind, while still at sea on the ‘Augusta,’ Byrnes had received a message from Sweden stating that Japanese Major Gen. Makoto Onodera, having authorization from the Emperor, wished to enter into peace negotiations. The only stipulation being that the Emperor remain in power.

By this time, Prince Konoye had spent two years laboring to uncover a route to peace. The prince had had the correct procedure all along, but mistakenly had chosen the Soviet Union as the go-between. Stalin had his own agenda in mind for the Japanese and their territories and therefore he deceitfully strung the envoys along with various delaying tactics. OSS Allen Dulles, who assisted in negotiations when Italy fell, was working on the same premise in Switzerland. Nevertheless, as spring turned to summer, militarists in Japan continued to plan for Operation Decision (Ketsu-Go) and ignored their government’s attempts for peace. Disregarding Japan’s concern for their Emperor, the Potsdam Declaration was considered by Premier Suzuki and the military to be a re-hashing of the Cairo Declaration which deemed it to be marked as “mokusatsu” (‘ignore entirely’ or ‘regard as unworthy of notice’)

In regards to the A-bomb, Secretary of War, Stimson and his assistant, John McCloy, told Truman, “We should all have our heads examined if we don’t try to find a political solution.” Truman laughed.

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So many manuevers, conversations and secrets go on behind the main headlines, but here is one story I hope you take the time to click and read. This obituary was in “The Week” news-magazine and I could not resist including it here. Could any of us do this job today?

Amazing story

Amazing story

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Resources: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian; “The Week” magazine; “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub; University of Virginia, Miller Center.

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Note of interest – 17 July 1945, kamikaze units were no longer voluntary.

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