One Hiroshima is more than enough

One Hiroshima is more than enough By Bob Karolevitz Hiroshima, Japan, is in the news these days.

That�s because � on Aug. 6, 1945 � it was 60 years ago that the first atomic bomb was dropped. It has special meaning for me, too.

Had not Col. Paul Tibbets unleashed �Little Boy� over the Japanese city from his B-29 Flying Fortress (which he had named the Enola Gay after his mother), this old codger wouldn�t be writing this column today. I was 23 years old then � a company commander with the 27th Infantry Wolfhound Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division � and I would have crawled up on the beaches of Honshu, Japan, and a terrible slaughter � them and us � would have ensued.

Instead � thanks to the bomb � we occupied the land of our former enemy. As fate would have it, I had indirect involvement with Hiroshima a couple of times.

As part of my duties, I was placed in charge of the trains which took Koreans to a port in Kyushu for repatriation to their native land. They had been held by the Japanese as virtual slave laborers, and now they were going home. The trains went through Hiroshima coming and going, so I had the opportunity to see firsthand the results of the bombing which destroyed 60 percent of the city and caused more than 66,000 Japanese to perish.

I wrote about one of the train trips in a column called �Postscripts to War.� I got a buck for each article from the editor at home � but at least I was writing! An excerpt from one of the columns follows:

�The Koreans were loaded � or I should say packed � into the lowest grade coaches with no heat or light. Many of the windows were out, and as the Nipponese railway system has a great number of tunnels, you can imagine how sooty these people became ?

�All of them carried the extent of their household effects wrapped in cloth bundles. They had little food � some boiled potatoes and fried octopus or squid. Little children with runny noses ? clamored all over the cars, now and then slugging each other with a chunk of dried octopus which they ultimately ate.

�These people know or care little about sanitation and soon the cars smelled so terrible that it took an extra effort to enter one. [We GIs had a much better heated and lighted coach to ride in.]

�At various stops along the way, [Korean] men got off to gather up drinking water in large bottles � not from a faucet but from the nearest puddle ?

�Before making the trip, I was advised that many things happen during a trek. Often Japanese attempt to board the train and have to be driven off. One officer even had to contend with a case of childbirth. Our trip was comparatively uneventful ? but then I didn�t care to play the part of a Korean midwife.�

The train rides were the extent of my exposure to Hiroshima. I recall the damage was not unlike the destruction at, say, Osaka � but it took hundreds of bombs to do what a single uranium-based one did.

I still contend that what President Harry Truman ordered saved my life � but I hope and pray we won�t see another nuclear explosion ever again.

After all, one Hiroshima is more than enough!

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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