Posted by: SJS | August 10, 2021

Early August 1945

Nagasaki bomb aftermath, August 1945

When the calendar flipped from July to August in 1945, the Navy’s PT squadrons in the South Pacific were squarely facing the grim prospect of preparing for the invasion of mainland Japan.

The sailors in PT Squadron 27, my father’s unit, had received a strong taste of fierce fighting on remote jungle rivers thousands of miles away from the Japanese mainland. The PT crews knew they were up against an adversary that preferred death to surrender. They also knew about the brutal, bloody battles that the Marines were fighting on their island hopping campaign as they moved ever closer to Japan.

For all the Allied Forces at the tip of the spear in the South Pacific, the earliest days of August 1945 came with a deep sense of resignation, a resignation bordering on fatalism. The prospect of engaging entrenched Japanese forces over the remainder of 1945 made many American soldiers and sailors believe that it would be their final year on earth.

And yet there was never any doubt that those soldiers and sailors would do their duty–whatever the cost.

As we know, everything changed in the wake of the Atomic bombs that were dropped by the Americans on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th in that fateful year of 1945. Imperial Japan would soon sue for peace and World War II would swiftly draw to a close in the Pacific.

With the arrival of the month of August every year, I always reflect on what it must have been like for my father and all his PT crewmates at this time in 1945. What they were facing is something I can scarcely imagine. The courage required to face each new day, perform their assigned duties, and put aside their worries and fears was patriotism–real patriotism of the highest order.

My gratitude, respect, and awe for what they accomplished knows no bounds.

PT 221 executes a fast turn to starboard.

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