Forgotten Knowledge: Tokyo Firebombing, 100,000 In One Night

Firebombing of Tokyo, March 9, 1945

Firebombing of Tokyo, March 9, 1945

Seventy years ago, one-half of Tokyo (the size of New York City) was laid waste by a low level night time attack of 334 American B-29 Superfortresses.  Stripped of their guns and loaded with incendiary bombs the attack lasted over three hours.  The temperatures rose to one thousand degrees.  Over 100,000 died in wooden shanty-towns.  It was the first of a series of bombing raids that destroyed 64 Japanese cities, before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

And this was in “the Good War.”

For more, see Eyewitness to History, the Asia Pacific Journal, Japan Air Raids, BBC, and more images (warning, some very graphic.)

Now that  62% of those polled (Quinnipiac) are calling for U.S. troops back in Iraq and Syria, is the time to publicly remember war and all its demons.

August 9, 68 Years Later

A "mushroom" cloud rises over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, following the detonation of "Fat Man." The second atomic weapon used against Japan, this single bomb resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Japanese citizens.

A “mushroom” cloud rises over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, following the detonation of “Fat Man.” The second atomic weapon used against Japan, this single bomb resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Japanese citizens.

More at BBC and The Guardian

68 Years Ago, Hiroshima Incinerated

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Today is the 68th year after the US bombing of Hiroshima. Memorials took place in the city and around the world. Here is one in Princeton, NJ, Seattle, WA and a lie-in at Livermore Labs, California, with Dan Ellsberg, among others, being arrested.

Pearl Harbor: The Day After, 71 Years Ago

This report-it-as-I-see-it article never appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.  Too upsetting.  And it is upsetting, even 71 years later.  Amazing, and wonderful that the young reporter would still be here (and working) to see it in print.  Not only does she write directly for an unusual audience — women!– she pulls no punches in her descriptions.

For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.

The seven days may stretch to seven years, and the women of Hawaii will have to accept a new routine of living. It is time, now, after the initial confusion and terror have subsided, to sum up the events of the past week, to make plans for the future.

…from the neighborhood called Punchbowl, I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs. Suddenly, there was a sharp whistling sound, almost over my shoulder, and below, down on School Street. I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set.

For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death..

See All at Washington Post

 

Civilian Casualties at Pearl Harbor

Returning Vets and the Help They Are Not Getting

Last week John Huston’s moving 1944 documentary on combat stress in returning WW II vets was finally released after some 60 years of censorship.  Take a look. [and my post about it.]

The vets returning today don’t need to measure their traumas against the grandfathers’ or even against each others.  Each soldier has his or her own hell, and the country that sent them there is obligated at the greatest level to do all it can do to repair the damage as best as can be done.

I’ve had my own struggle: in 2001 I was part of the initial force of Marines who landed in Afghanistan, and in 2003 took part in the heavy fighting of the first wave of the invasion of Iraq. Since coming home, I’ve had my mind hijacked by visions of the corpses of children, their eyes blackened, at the side of the road. I recall carrying the coffins of fallen brothers. I remember losing friends who probably knew exactly what was happening to them, as they bled out on the side of a dusty road in Iraq.

And I’ve felt the shame of having suicidal feelings. Like many others, I chose to hide them. Yet, even in the darkest days of my own post-traumatic stress, when I was considering choosing between making my suicide look like an accident or taking a swan dive off some beautiful bridge, I never considered going to the V.A. for help.

My image of the V.A., formed while I was on active duty, was of an ineffective, uncaring institution. Tales circulated among my fellow Marines of its institutional indifference, and those impressions were confirmed when I left Iraq for home. At Camp Pendleton, Calif., a woman with a cold, unfeeling manner assembled us for a PowerPoint presentation and pointed us to brochures — nothing more, no welcoming sign of warmth or empathy for the jumble of emotions we were feeling. Her remoteness spoke volumes to me of what I might expect at home.

To regain veterans’ trust, the V.A. must change its organization and culture, not just hire more people.

Mike Scotti, USMC in Iraq also has a book, “The Blue Cascade: A Memoir of Life After War.”