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Experiencing War (War's End): Stories from the Veterans History Project

In the summer of 1945, what most Americans on duty in the Pacific dreaded was the upcoming invasion of Japan. The atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki canceled that operation when the Japanese quickly surrendered. There was initial suspicion in some quarters that the surrender was a trick; Marines waited two weeks after VJ Day before actually landing. But when American occupiers saw the devastation that bombing had caused and were greeted by deferential Japanese civilians, the knowledge that the war was finally over could sink in.

Featured Story: Raymond Brittain
Image of Raymond Albert Brittain - link to story

"We were in Manila Bay, and that entire bay was completely full of sunken Japanese ships." (Audio Interview, Part 2, 14:45)

“Serving for the duration” perfectly describes Raymond Brittain’s World War II experience. Already in the Navy for 15 months when his ship was attacked in Pearl Harbor (he provides a riveting eyewitness account of December 7th), he saw subsequent action in the Aleutians and on Tarawa. After retraining in the U.S. to become a Fire Controlman, he was on his way back to the front when the war concluded. But his ship continued onward, to Japan for repairs, allowing Brittain a closeup look at postwar devastation.

Go to Raymond Brittain's storyGo and experience
Raymond Albert Brittain's story
Experience more Stories of VJ Day more stories

"I have just received a note from the Japanese government... I deem this reply a full acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, which specifies the unconditional surrender of Japan." -- Harry S Truman

Image of Robert Llewellyn Balfour - link to story

"I knew all about the atomic bomb two months before it happened..."

Robert Llewellyn Balfour's story

Image of Yukio Kawamoto  - link to story

"I did my best under trying circumstances with my parents in the camps."

Yukio Kawamoto's story

Image of Robert G. Mackey  - link to story

"We can't have a formal surrender on a general mess table."

Robert G. Mackey's story

Image of Joseph Jefferson Mickey - link to story

"Colonel Hickman dictated to me the directive, signed by General MacArthur..."

Joseph Jefferson Mickey's story

Image of  Glenn Walter Nelson - link to story

"...An announcer cut in on the movie and said the Japanese had surrendered."

Glenn Walter Nelson's story

Image of  Glen Harold Wallace - link to story

"... we appeared to take death lightly ... in order to keep from going crazy."

Glen Harold Wallace's story

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  May 16, 2005
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