Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Foggia Valley, Italy

One thing about the military, they do move you around. The next thing I knew I was in Foggia Valley, Italy, close to Naples. The number of B-24 bombers there almost blew my mind. In less than two years the United States workers, women and men, had produced thousands of bombers and tanks, rifles and ammunition and uniforms as well as establishing bases. The warlords in Berlin and Tokyo had underestimated the basic character of the people of our nation. Every morning a group of B-24s took off from Foggia, followed in short order by another group, hour after hour. Late afternoon saw most of the bombers returning, minus maybe four or five. We were bombing Germany out of existence. In North Africa I had felt that Germany was winning but here in Southern Italy I felt that Germany was doomed. And the credit was due to the people of the United States who went to work with zest. The war in the Pacific was a naval war, with our battleships and cruisers and aircraft carriers meeting the Japanese in places that most of us had never heard of. Finally the Japanese warlords, fanatical to the end, started using suicide pilots, called kamikaze. By that time I was in Victorville, Calif., along with thousands of others, waiting to go to Japan. It has been estimated that we would lose more than one million troops, and that the Japanese would lose maybe two million people, including soldiers, when we invaded. Franklin Roosevelt had been succeeded by Harry Truman. It was Truman who decided to use the atomic bomb. I had been assigned to the news desk at the Southern California air base and was giving eight news reports a day to thousands of soldiers who marched to the base theater to hear them. Early one morning the Associated Press machine began ringing bells for what seemed forever. The message was that we had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. I called the base commander, who was wide awake. and read him the bulletin. He thanked me and hung up. I still did not know what an atomic bomb was. Next I will tell you the reaction of the troops concerning the dropping of the bomb.

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