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Letters to the Editor

Lives saved

August 18, 2010

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To the editor:

In “Unnecessary attack” (Journal-World, Aug. 12), John A. Bond made four statements about the military situation with Japan in 1945 and why we should not have dropped the atomic bombs. He failed to mention that multitudes of Americans and Japanese (military and civilians) would have been killed if the bombs had not been dropped.

I am a survivor of Pearl Harbor. However, I would not be a survivor of WWII if the bomb had not been dropped. At the end of WWII, I was the executive officer of Fighter-Bomber Squadron 16 and led a 16-plane dawn patrol flight over Tokyo on Aug. 15, the last combat flight from the U.S.S. Randolph. I became XO because my predecessor was shot down, as was my roommate, who was in the fighter squadron. Air Group 16 consisted of four squadrons. The total complement of pilots and air crewmen was normally about 150. In two combat cruises, 98 were lost. Obviously, my perspective from the shores of Japan is different than that of Mr. Bond from Detroit.

Incidentally, in Japan (as well as France, England, China, Russia), nuclear power is a primary source of power. Although we began powering Navy ships with nuclear power in the late ’50s and have more than 50 years of experience in nuclear power operation, we have not built any new nuclear plants in more than 30 years. As a French engineer told a group of us about 30 years ago, “I can’t understand why you are so stupid now.”

Vincent U. Muirhead,

Lawrence

Comments

Practicality 3 years, 8 months ago

"You realize you are calling Mr. Muirhead a murderer don't you?" (Me)

“By the standards used to prosecute Japanese and German war criminals after the war, many of those bombing runs were almost certainly war crimes.” (bozo)

“I also believe you owe Mr. Muirhead an apology for calling him a murderer.” (Me)

“War is murder.” (bozo)

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greenlid79 3 years, 8 months ago

What about a naval blockade? Could that have been a viable option? Once Japan was on its knees, was there enough of an Allied navy to be effective in choking off supplies to the nation? Would've taken time, of course, but could it have been effective and less costly (in lives lost)?

Chime in. I don't know much about the conditions then.

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 8 months ago

Prof Muirhead, if you're still reading after the totally morally bankrupt ravings of Boozo, Thuggy, and Edjay, I'm giving you a lot of credit.

thank you for your courage and for doing a very hard job.

these crazed leftists don't understand that the Japanese actually lost fewer lives that way than if X-day had happened and the invasion of the japanese islands had happened.

they keep maundering about civilian and military persons and targetts.
in case of invasion, the military leaders of 1945 Japan had massive plans to convert huge numbers of civilians into combatants!
easily millions of japanese (of whatever affiliation at the time) would have died.


and as to the question: how many enemy civilians should die to spare the life of one american soldier/sailor/airman/marine/coas guards?
if the enemy believes that my answer is a massive number or infinite or at least * extremely disproportionate, guess what, that has a great chance of preventing one heckuva lot of destruction and thus saves lives. that's because my enemy is likely to quit. the USSR's leaders kinda thought that of Ronald Reagan, and look what happened.
Clausewitz said that the use of overwhelming force actually saved lives in the long run. it ended conflicts much faster. besides the direct harm of killing and maiming, wars have many other harmful effects on civilian populations. it is better to end a war quickly.

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edjayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

So every time Jaywalker posts and quits Notajayhawk is right there to continue it. How interesting...

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kansanbygrace 3 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Muirhead's and Mr. Bond's conclusions differ. Both are suppositions of what may have happened had reality been different than what it was. Conjecture. Maybe one is right, maybe the other. The US soldiers who were being prepared in the Pacific were told day and night that the Japanese civilians would fight to the last one standing. Those, however, who occupied Japan at the time of surrender were surprised when they learned that a very large proportion were violently opposed to continuing the war under any circumstances, and had had enough even before the firebombing of Tokyo, much less the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In any case, whether saturation bombing of the cultural city of Dresden in Germany, or of the secondary targets, not military targets, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the question of the moral acceptability of eradicating civilian populations (which has never been done to the USA) is a pertinent question without a simple answer.

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IndusRiver 3 years, 8 months ago

You know right_wing, I just ate and you're really startin' to make me sick.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 8 months ago

"Here Klown"...that's pretty good!! ;o)

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IndusRiver 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for bringing clarity to the picture, bozo. Eisenhower didn't trust France, but when China went Communist Eisenhower's admin. took the one-way plunge into the whole mess. Still though they were adamant that France be removed from handling the Indo-Chinese affairs of that time.

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IndusRiver 3 years, 8 months ago

Democrats AND Republicans, Snodgrass. There is no difference. Nixon was president while they were napalming women and children in Nam.

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IndusRiver 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, it's true, we are stupid; the dumbest people on earth actually. We've squandered all of our resources, put our own country out of work, and caved in to Communism.

That's stupid. Stupid to be anywhere fighting for this country.

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Snodgrass 3 years, 8 months ago

Democrats vaporized thousands of Japanese women and children while in charge of America. 60 years later, they are in charge of America and the world is getting more violent. Democrats are allowing more deaths in Iraq, Iran to build nukes, enabling Terrorists to rule, and war games in China/N. Korea waters. Considering Democrats track record, keep your hidey-hole ready. The transformation is coming.

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Boston_Corbett 3 years, 8 months ago

I apologize to Bozo. I believe he answered in another post the questions I asked him in my 9:41 post. Bozo states: ".....But it's quite evident that the incendiary (and nuclear) bombing raids over Japanese (and German) cities towards the end of war were very minimally attacks on military targets. The goal was quite specifically to cause as much death and destruction as possible in what were clearly civilian areas in an attempt to terrorize the civilian populations into rising up against their militaristic rulers. You may not call that a war crime, but if the victors of the war had been different....."


Actually I agree with some of Bozo's points here.

Relative to his statements about "knowledge of targets," I do disagree. Considerable written evidence exists from both theaters of the war about mission targets and objectives from original military records, and the measured damage from these raids. Also practices in the two theaters differed somewhat near the end of each campaign. That information is available from public records in the US and England and has been examined in military and academic treatises and increasingly in general audience publications.

But Bozo does admit that he believes that non-atomic generalized bombing in Japan and Germany were both somewhat equivalent.

I am in agreement of that observation. And I believe because of people like Bozo, people do not understand the true extent of area bombing in the European and Japanese campaigns. He just believes that these were all immoral. I personally believe that these were part of the necessary immorality which is an inherit part of war. And I am glad that these aggressive bombing campaigns help bring the Axis powers to their knees much more quickly than would have occurred otherwise.

Where Bozo presumably believes that the war should have been prosecuted without the Allied bomber campaign (as well as the dropping of the atomic bombs), I disagree. It's wishful thinking, it just isn't realistic. Wars against states are prosecuted against the entire state, just not the military. What is a "military" target? The distinction between "civilian" and "military" itself is arbitrary. Rail transportation, road transportation, light and heavy manufacturing, food production, medical, energy, logistics, banking, general economy, are all part of a nation's infrastructure, and directly and indirectly support the military and war aims of a country. They are all also inextricably located where "civilians" live, eat, and sleep.

And the notion of dropping arms to wait for a country to crumble own its own is just a stupid sophomoric concept for WWII. Armistice had been tried before and was a dismal failure. All Allies agreed that the wars needed to be prosecuted quickly, and to an unconditional surrender, in both campaigns. But it is easy to wish otherwise, and hope it would really be like that.

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beaujackson 3 years, 8 months ago

The atomic bomb probably saved my life, and many thousands more, both American and Japanese.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 8 months ago

"Incidentally, in Japan (as well as France, England, China, Russia), nuclear power is a primary source of power. Although we began powering Navy ships with nuclear power in the late ’50s and have more than 50 years of experience in nuclear power operation, we have not built any new nuclear plants in more than 30 years. As a French engineer told a group of us about 30 years ago, “I can’t understand why you are so stupid now.”

Great point there too. Let's consider the handling of the BP disaster though...let's do this under a President who would make it safe. No NRC would probably be safer than an obama NRC.

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jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

That logic would also apply to those who are so upset about our current president.

However, they choose to stay and try to improve the country by participating in the political process.

Bozo chooses to stay here and try to improve the country by participating in online discussion and debate.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 8 months ago

bozo, it occurs to me that you cannot possibly be happy in a country that you disrespect and disdain. Life is too short to be miserable my friend. Why not just move? I will help you with the first step; try calling these embassies and check on immigrating to somewhere you might feel more comfortable.

Germany (202) 298-4000 Greenland (202) 234-4300 Iceland (202) 265-6653 Japan (202) 238-6700 Switzerland 800-345-6541

There's a country out there somewhere bozo that you'd fit in better and feel more at home. Good luck.

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Practicality 3 years, 8 months ago

bozo,

You realize you are calling Mr. Muirhead a murderer don't you? Do you feel that way about all our soldiers?

Mr. Muirhead,

Please do not listen to bozo. He is likely very young and naive, and he has yet to figure out that the world is not near as simple and nice as he wants to believe. Thank you for your service during WWII. I imagine even bozo had relatives fighting during WWII, although I am starting to think that they might have been fighting for the Japanese now.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Lives saved"

Ironic title, given that it was likely incendiary bombing runs that Mr Muirhead participated in over Tokyo whose targets were primarily civilians, and more than 100 thousand of them died. The targets of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were also primarily civilians, albeit with a new, improved method of vaporizing the more than 200,000 people who died.

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AppleJack 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you for your service Mr. Muirhead. A true perspective of war and combat is only gained by those who have experienced it.

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cato_the_elder 3 years, 8 months ago

Outstanding letter, Professor Muirhead. Thank you for taking the time to write it, especially in pointing out the absurdity of our failure to exploit nuclear power as has been done in Europe and elsewhere all over the world. Moreover, we all owe you a great deal for your heroism and bravery during the war.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 8 months ago

I'll put this as nicely and delicately as I possibly can.... The guy (John A. Bond) is an idiot, and we all know it.

Strong language was used to warn the Japanese and they ignored it anyway. They made a wager that the allies wouldn't follow through, which they did, and the Japanese people paid the horrible cost. I have no problems on vigils for the innocent victims, but the blood of each of those victims are not on Americas hands, it's on the hands of the (then) Japanese government--they are responsible for that death toll, not us.

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