Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Nuclear Warfare

Today marks the 62nd anniversary of the nuclear strike on Hiroshima (広島市). At 8:12 AM local time, on Monday, August 6th, 1945, the B-29 Superfortress "ENOLA GAY" dropped the "Little Boy" bomb on this city in western Honshu. The 12-kiloton above-ground detonation resulted in more than 70,000 direct deaths and completely destroyed more than 2/3s of the buildings.

Coupled with the "Fat Man" bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki three days later by "BOCK'S CAR",
these attacks prompted Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) to accept the Potsdam Declaration and offer Japan's unconditional surrender. Since President Truman had approved Operation DOWNFALL (the Allied plan for invading the Japanese homeland) two weeks earlier, the success of the Manhattan Project spared potentially millions of lives. My grandparents (both Marines in the Pacific Theater during World War II) could have been among them...

The Uranium-235 in the "Little Boy" bomb was purified and refined in my adopted hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the Y-12 Nuclear Plant in Bear Creek Valley. Y-12 was one of three sites aboard the 60,000 acre Manhattan Project reservation in Oak Ridge, using Calutrons (large magnets) desiged at Berkeley to extract Uranium-235 from natural ore.

Today, ENOLA GAY hangs in the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum near Dulles Airport in northern Virginia. The Y-12 site at Oak Ridge dismantles more weapons than it creates. And the motto of the City of Oak Ridge is "Born of War, Living for Peace".


At 6/8/07 05:52 , Blogger Dan tdaxp said...

The best book on Japan's post-war I've read is Embracing Defeat. When reading it, it is impossible to think "Thank God these people were still alive!" Thank God Olympic and Coronet never happened!

At 6/8/07 15:18 , Blogger Jay@Soob said...

I'd say the image of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lent a great deal of gravity to the subsequent Cold Peace. Without the real world demonstration (as awful as it was) of a 12 kiloton weapon the Cuban Missile Crisis may have gone in a cataclysmic direction.

As dramatic and romantic as it sounds the tens of thousands killed may well have saved not just soldiers and civilians during the last days of the Pacific battle but humanity as we knew it.

At 14/8/08 07:32 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father was one of many that faced the viloent and gruesome task of invading Japan. Yet, was spared. So many of those spared return to our nation and filled the universities. Those spared on those fateful days did not waste theri new found lease on life. Would man have walked on the moon? How many incredible medical breakthroughs occured?


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