Monthly Archives: August 2012

Irish Soldier Who Fought for U.S. in WWI Finally Honored

Story by Dara Kelly for IrishCentral.com, August 18. 2012:

A young Irish soldier who died in battle during World War I is now being honored after lying in an unmarked grave for many years.

According to the Irish Independent, 28-year-old Edmond ‘Ned’ Brunnock emigrated to Dorchester in Massachusetts from Doon, Araglin, on the Cork-Tipperary border. In February 1918, he enlisted in the US army and was sent to the trenches in France.

On September 28, Brunnock’s unit — the 306th Division — was involved in a horrific battle with German troops at St Hubert near Boureuilles on the Franco-German border.

He sustained severe injuries as he fought to save his fellow soldiers and died of his wounds four days later on October 1, just two months short of his 29th birthday.

After initially being buried in France, his body, and the bodies of 61 other Irish soldiers who had enlisted in the US army, was disinterred and brought to Dublin in 1922.

Brunnock, who was one of 12 children, was buried alongside his father, Thomas Brunnock, at Shanrahan Cemetery in Clogheen, Co Tipperary.

However, his headstone was left unmarked for over 60 years. In the 1970s, the family did add a small plaque acknowledging his burial but did not specify that he had died bravely fighting as a US soldier.

On Saturday, the American Legion’s Fr Duffy Post lead a special ceremony in Clogheen where full military honours were accorded Private Brunnock and a special military grave marker, paid for by the US government and shipped from Washington, was unveiled.

Brunnock’s nephew Mike Brunnock told the Irish Independent: “We recognise and honour Edmond as a brave soldier who … made the ultimate sacrifice … for the cause of freedom.”

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Maryland’s War of 1812

Article by Robert McCartney for The Washington Post, August 11, 2012:

At first glance, Maryland’s enthusiasm for remembering the War of 1812 seems remarkably odd, given that the state spent most of the conflict getting its fanny whacked militarily by British invaders.

Consider Saturday’s reenactment in Prince George’s County of the Battle of Bladensburg, which helped kick off observances in our region of the war’s 200th anniversary.

The original engagement was an American debacle, as 6,000 poorly led U.S. militiamen retreated in chaos before 4,000 British regulars. Secretary of State James Monroe (later president) contributed to the troubles by second-guessing officers on the scene. He placed a unit of dragoons in a ravine where they couldn’t see what was happening.

The defeat cleared the path for British troops to surge into Washington in the evening and torch the White House and Capitol.

Nevertheless, dozens of reenactors and hundreds of spectators showed up at the event to mark what the Encyclopedia of the War of 1812 calls “an unmitigated military disaster.”

The explanation for such devotion is simple. It’s all about state pride and tourist dollars.

Even if the War of 1812 is a hazy bit of history for most Americans, it’s the most significant U.S. historical event that Maryland, and especially Baltimore, can claim as its own.

As a result, Maryland is promoting the bicentennial with every available tool, including commemorative coins, a ship festival and new historical exhibitions. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has dressed up as an 1812 militiaman for reenactments, set up a bicentennial commission five years ago to oversee the effort.

Plus, of course, Maryland is the only state featuring the War of 1812 on its license plates.

“Maryland is definitely carrying the flag here. They’re at the forefront,” said the National Park Service’s Suzanne Copping, who is project manager for the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The new, 560-mile route, championed in Congress by the Maryland delegation, tracks the war in our region.

History offers grounds for Maryland’s passion. The Free State was the site of more battles, raids and other engagements than any other state during the three-year conflict. Most were U.S. setbacks, incurred as a British naval task force marauded up and down the Chesapeake in 1813 and 1814.

“Maryland probably had more damage than any other state,” said Steve Vogel, a Washington Post reporter whose book on the war in our area, “Through the Perilous Fight,” will be published in the spring.

“Parts of Southern Maryland never really recovered. A lot of people left and never came back,” Vogel said.

But the state was redeemed by the successful defense of Baltimore, three weeks after the Bladensburg fiasco. The highlight was Fort McHenry’s refusal to submit to British bombardment, which inspired the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Never mind that the anthem’s author, Francis Scott Key, passionately opposed the war when President James Madison and his congressional allies started it.)

When news of the British setback in Baltimore reached London in the autumn of 1814, it helped prompt the government to soften its demands in peace negotiations.

So Maryland gets some credit for the war ending as it did in a draw, rather than a defeat. (The war’s causes included Britain’s forced recruitment of U.S. sailors, trade disputes and American interest in conquering Canada.)

Finally, Baltimore dispatched an unmatched number of privateers, or privately owned, armed vessels commissioned by Washington, to attack British commercial shipping. They did so, with ravaging results.

By the end, Maryland had enough 19th-century military successes to justify a 21st-century marketing effort.

“People are always looking for something to set them apart in terms of attracting tourism, and Maryland does have a lot of [War of 1812] sites. You can’t beat Fort McHenry,” said Ann Wass, a historian at Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale, where the Bladensburg reenactment was staged.

Maryland can never pack the historical punch of neighboring Virginia.

The Old Dominion is tops in the country for battlefields of the Civil War, which has a more enduring legacy than even the Revolution. Virginia also boasts Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg.

Still, the Free State is putting the best spin on what it’s got. That’s Wass’s approach toward the Bladensburg rout: “We think this was a wake-up call. When the Baltimoreans heard the British were coming, they were ready.”

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Guadalcanal, An 18 Year Old Marine, and WII

Story by Joshua Rhett Milller for Foxnews.com, August 7, 2012:

As a huge wave of U.S. Marines bent on delivering Pearl Harbor payback waded onto the beach of the Solomon Island of Guadalcanal on Aug. 7, 1942, a Japanese radio operator frantically vowed to his superiors, “we will defend our posts to the death.”

He got his wish, thanks to 11,000 brave Marines, including an 18-year-old Bronx kid named Al “Duke” Dellaera who still recalls the initial hours that kicked off a grueling, six-month battle that helped turn the tide against the Axis Powers in World War II. For the first few days, the Marines met little resistance, but as they moved deeper into the island during the first week, patrols were regularly ambushed from the jungle shadows.

“We got in a few hundred yards in from the beach and then the Japanese opened fire on us,” Dellaera, now 89, said, recalling one such attack in the early days of the invasion. “We were ambushed, really surprised. All I saw was debris falling all over the place.”

Seventy years later, the Guadalcanal Invasion stands as a seminal moment in World War II, the beginning of the end of Japanese naval dominance in the Pacific Theater. It was the Allies’ first engagement with the Japanese Imperial Navy, which had for months been establishing bases and dominance throughout the Pacific Theater, threatening supply routes between the U.S. and Australia.

The invasion, the brainchild of legendary U.S. Adm. Ernest King, came as the Army, including what later became the Air Force, had its hands full battling the Germans in Europe. King lobbied hard for men and supplies, and in the end won approval for the invasion. It had been eight months to the day since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, awakening, in the words of Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, “a sleeping giant” — along with Dellaera, who was among thousands of American men and boys who signed up following the sneak attack.
“I rushed home naturally, because I knew my parents would be upset,” recalled Dellaera, who now lives in Fairfield, Conn. “My parents had a fit. I said, ‘I don’t want to wait,’ so I went down and enlisted.”

Just months out of basic training at Camp Lejeune and a member of the 1st Marine Division, Dellaera found himself in the island jungle, often knee-deep in mud as he scouted out routes for fellow Marines, relaying what he saw using complex hand signals. Always, the enemy was lurking nearby.

“There was so much action going on that you didn’t dwell on anything,” Dellaera remembered. “But believe me, I was afraid a lot of times before things got started. I’m not afraid to admit it. But when action started, that fear left you and you concentrated on doing what you had to do.

“They were desperate days,” he added, recalling times when he subsisted on maggot-infested oatmeal. “You’ll eat anything when you’re hungry. But I wanted to be there because the country was at war and I felt it was my duty.”
During one nighttime patrol along the Ilu River, Dellaera saw a “shadow up ahead” in the grass, just shy of where heavy vegetation began.

“It turned out to be a Japanese soldier … so there we were, face-to-face more or less, about 25 to 30 yards apart. He stopped and I stopped, and we just stayed there quietly. And he was probably thinking, ‘Did I see something there or was it my imagination?’ And I was thinking the same thing.”

Eventually, the soldier crawled away without incident and Dellaera’s good timing and fortune would continue until Sept. 16, 1944, when he was wounded in action on Peleliu Island. He was hit by shrapnel from a Japanese grenade, and simultaneously shot in the upper right arm, effectively ending his brief military career. He would later return by ship to Oakland, Calif., just before Christmas that year.

By then, Dellaera had done more than his share, enduring “grinding” months he believes came to define him as a man.

“That was the turning point of the war,” Dellaera said. “Guadalcanal was their last frontier. From then on, they were going back, back, back. It turned out to be a disaster for the Japanese.

“Wherever I go — and I’m always with that Marine cap — people will come up to me, grab me by the hand and say, ‘I want to thank you,’ which is really touching,” Dellaera said. “At one time in history, a lot of people made sacrifices, so many kids never came back … and people today, young people, they appreciate that.”

All told, Japanese forces were decimated during the campaign — code-named Project Watchtower — that was initially expected to last just six weeks. Roughly 31,000 Japanese troops died, compared to roughly 7,100 Allied forces. In addition to fierce land, naval and near-daily aerial fighting, troops on both sides were plagued by tropical heat, dysentery and malaria.

To mark Tuesday’s anniversary, the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, will attend a commemoration ceremony at Guadalcanal hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Suva. Amos, in a statement to FoxNews.com, said the battle was the Marines’ “baptism by fire” during World War II.

“It was the first moment that untested Marines met crack Japanese troops in the skies, on the beaches, and deep in the jungle — and prevailed,” the statement read. “Men on both sides struggled in the most challenging of human environments and fought for their beliefs, their nations, and their brothers. We honor their sacrifices on this 70th anniversary of the battle by carrying the memories of their trials and victories in our hearts. The peace they achieved has prevailed for nearly seven decades and now serves as the bedrock of our alliance with the people of Japan.”

Dellaera returned to Guadalcanal in 1994, but didn’t make the trip this year. He said he would quietly remember the combat action he saw during the Battle of Edson’s Ridge — the second of three major Japanese ground offensives — and later along the Mataniku River. He enjoys recounting the stories of battle, heroism and friendship with a younger generation aware that there aren’t many Guadalcanal survivors left.

“I told her, ‘Don’t put me on a pedestal, I’m not a hero — I just happened to be out there.’ The heroes didn’t come back. Those were the real heroes.”
– Al Dellaera

One of those people is Justin Taylan, the 34-year-old founder and director of PacificWrecks.com, a nonprofit organization and website that seeks to document U.S. airplane wreckages and battlefields in the Pacific, as well as to capture first-hand experiences from World War II veterans. Taylan met Dellaera at a 1st Marine Division reunion in 2001 and they’ve been friends ever since.

“What’s interesting about Dellaera as a veteran is that he was involved in the entire [Guadalcanal] campaign and he went back there as a veteran in 1994,” Taylan told FoxNews.com. “He has a perspective of then and now. And he was a private during the battle, so, to me, his experiences are very genuine and among those not represented in the official record.”

Taylan, who has traveled to Guadalcanal four times, stressed the importance of tapping the remaining World War II veterans for their experiences before it’s too late.

“These are things that only Al can tell us and only he knows,” he said. “If we don’t access that information from him, we’ll never know. It’s a moment in history and we’re so lucky to have some of those veterans with us. You appreciate how tragic and violent and chaotic war is — and how it was also the high point of his life.”

Dellaera, meanwhile, recalled a recent run-in with a college student who mined his experiences for a report on the war.

“She calls me up occasionally, she sends me emails,” he said. “It’s embarrassing, really. I told her, ‘Don’t put me on a pedestal, I’m not a hero — I just happened to be out there.’ The heroes didn’t come back. Those were the real heroes.”

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Last Polish Soldier of Initial WWII Battle Dies

From AP News, August 7, 2012:

Maj. Ignacy Skowron, the last known Polish survivor of the opening battle of World War II, died on Sunday at the age of 97.

Family friend Zofia Nowak said Monday that Skowron died at his grandson’s home in Kielce, in southern Poland, after suffering circulatory, liver and pancreas problems.

The last time that he took part in observances of the battle’s anniversary at the Westerplatte, a date marked somberly every year on Sept. 1, was in 2009, Nowak said. On his 97th birthday, last month, he was bedridden and weak, she said.

Skowron, at the time a corporal, was one of some 200 Polish troops guarding a military depot at Westerplatte, near the city of Gdansk, when it came under heavy fire from a German warship, the Schlezwig-Holstein.

Cut from any supplies or reinforcements, the Poles held out for seven days in the face of attack by more than 1,500 Nazi German troops from land, sea and air, but were eventually captured as prisoners.

Skowron was released from war prisoner camp in 1940 due to ill health and settled with his family near Kielce. He worked for Polish railways until his 1975 retirement. He then dedicated his life to telling the story of the battle to the younger generations.

His funeral will be held Wednesday in Brzeziny, near Kielce.

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WWI Soldiers and Clues About Traumatic Brain Injuries

Article by Jay Price for The News and Observer, August 5, 2012:

Second Lt. Eric Poole was sharp enough to earn a string of promotions and make that rare leap from enlisted man to officer, but his rise through the British Army ranks ended when his superiors ordered him shot.

Pvt. William Alfred Moon was, said a command sergeant major who knew him for two years, “one of the best of soldiers.” They executed him, too.

Pvt. Arthur Wild, as well, had been a solid soldier, one of his officers testified. Wild’s death by firing squad “was instantaneous” wrote the witnessing medical officer.

The trio fought in the French trenches of World War I in conditions almost unimaginably horrific, even by the terrible standards of war. All three were court-martialed for desertion.

They and other executed British soldiers were likely the innocent victims of a scourge that still stalks battlefields nearly a century later: blast-induced traumatic brain injury.

That’s according to the findings of an unusual, multidisciplinary team of Duke University researchers. They include a psychiatrist who served in Afghanistan, a psychologist, a biomedical engineer, and an engineer with a doctorate who is an expert in explaining the precise mechanics of explosions and other forces that can injure humans.

Similar symptoms

The psychologist, Alayna Panzer, a post-doctoral fellow at Duke, examined thousands of pages of records from the British National Archives and secondary sources on more than 300 troops in World War I who were executed after being convicted of offenses such as cowardice and desertion.

In cases where they could find enough information about blasts that may have injured the men, biomedical engineering doctoral student Garrett Wood used sophisticated software that could incorporate data about specific German artillery to model the likely effects.

The team used all that information and modern understanding of brain injuries to reconsider the cases where they found enough detail, said Dr. Bruce Capehart, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center who studies and treats post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in combat veterans.

The symptoms can be similar and make it hard to know which of the disorders a victim is suffering, or whether they are dealing with both. That has implications for what kinds of treatment they need.

Also, some medical professionals may still have trouble believing TBI can be caused by the shock waves of a blast.

And that makes the World War I cases relevant, Capehart said.

“Potentially, what this research can tell is that maybe some of these cases we thought of as PTSD were TBI and that we kind of missed that difference over the years,” he said. “That might change some of our perceptions about TBI . PTSD among soldiers coming home and may cause us to be more open to looking for TBI.”

Panzer presented the group’s findings two weeks ago during the National Neurotrauma Society’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

Taking another look

The kind of information the team needs, so many years later, is scarce. What researchers needed in each case was two things: something that offered reasonable clues about the men’s mental health before the trauma, and a report with at least some detail about his exposure to the effects of a blast.

They found it in enough cases to present the results formally at the neurotrauma meeting.

Some of the men, perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent, had poor excuses for deserting or their other behavior. In many of the other cases, there wasn’t enough information in the records to tell much.

But in the cases of about 10 percent of those executed, there appears to be evidence of neurotrauma, said Cameron R. “Dale” Bass, an associate research professor with Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Injury and Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory.

Bass, Capehart and the researchers working with them on brain trauma are keenly interested in helping modern troops by figuring out better ways to protect them on the battlefield, and to treat them if they do get injured. For years, they have worked on Pentagon-sponsored research that has helped point the way to improvements in everything from body armor, helmets and military vehicle design to better clinical treatment techniques and drugs.

But when you are trying to bring more precision to the study of something as chaotic as the effects of explosions on battlefields, useful records can be hard to find, the researchers said.

They already were working in an odd set of overlapping disciplines – as Capehart says, neither a roomful of doctors nor a roomful of engineers could solve these kinds of problems on their own. But this hunger for data led them even further afield, into the realm of historians, and even linguists, as they studied the meanings of medical and military words that have changed over time.

Indeed, to a degree, the whole World War I study spins around the shift of a particular phrase: shell shock.

The term was coined in World War I and referred to those whose mental function had been damaged during combat. The causes weren’t split neatly into physical damage or damage caused by psychological stress.

But over the years and in wars since, said Capehart, the phrase became synonymous with PTSD, which has psychological causes.

The shift in the meaning of the phrase posed a troubling question about World War I troops who were said to be suffering from shell shock.

“Did we overlook a small number of troops injured physically by blast trauma, and are we still doing that today?” Capehart said.

The answer, he said, could bring more attention to physical injury, which isn’t treated in the same way as PTSD is.

New horrors

Every war has its horrors, but World War I has a special place in the pantheon, with millions of men naively marching off to face industrial-grade machinery of death far beyond anything seen in previous conflicts, including machine guns, high-velocity modern bullets, tanks, airplanes and poisonous gas.

Among the new tools of death: artillery projectiles packed with high explosives, thousands of pounds of them falling onto combatants every day.

Earlier artillery had fired solid metal projectiles, then shifted to black powder. Black powder and gases such as propane behave in similar ways when ignited. Essentially, they simply burn quickly and don’t generate the same kind of shock wave, or the same kind of brain injuries, as high explosives, Capehart said.

“We think this was one reason the effects of the blasts weren’t fully appreciated in World War I,” he said.

Indeed, the full nature of the blast injuries to the brain still isn’t fully understood.

Bass, Capehart and others also are working on more elaborate research involving historical data. They are completing a scientific journal article based on records of U.S. troops in World War I, and are studying the experiences of troops in the Pacific theater of World War II, as well as French World War I records, though language is among the hurdles there.

World War I came during a coarser time, and there was not only less sympathy, but also less understanding among military leaders and the public regarding mental problems.

Still, even by measures much less enlightened than current thinking, the British Army was dealing out executions with an extraordinary lack of fairness or compassion.

Two men were executed for leaving their post – after an officer had ordered them to leave it. Another was executed for abandoning his weapon, though it had jammed badly and he had left it only because he wedged it across a trench to slow down pursuing Germans.

Some details in the records of the executed British troops studied by the Duke researchers are heart-rending.

One of Wild’s commanding officers testified: “… Pte. Wild was in the front trenches at Colincamps when some ‘coalboxes’ (massive artillery shells) landed near him. He was taken out with shellshock … on a later date whilst going up on a working party … shelling was going on and the accused Pte Wild who was on of (sic) the party of which I was in charge, gave way completely and I sent him back to camp …”

A medical report from Moon’s court martial said: “The accused had been suffering from shock for several months. The shock was caused by an incident that occurred on Dec. 31st 1915 when a shell burst close to him and blew parts of a comrade’s head and brains into his face.”

And a medical report from Poole’s court martial said: “Disease. Shell Shock. At Contalmaison (7/7/16) was knocked out by clods of earth distributed by H.E. Shell… Did not lose consciousness but shaky and nervous since.”

That description of how Poole was affected was the kind of information that helped the researchers reach new “verdicts” in several of the cases.

“We interpreted that as, his bell was rung, he was dazed and confused, which is consistent with current TBI diagnosis,” Capehart said.

Delving deep into the cases to determine whether the men had TBI, PTSD or other problems is important to the Duke researchers.

But from the standpoint of the morality of the executions, it already had become clear that many were simply wrong.

In 2006, the British government pardoned 306 of those who are often referred to under the catchall term “shot at dawn.”

Each is worded like Wild’s: “The pardon stands as recognition that he was one of the many victims of the First World War and that execution was not a fate he deserved.”

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Hiroshima Marks Anniversary of Atomic Bombing

Story from Inquirer News.com, August 6, 2012:

Tens of thousands of people will mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Monday, as a rising tide of anti-nuclear sentiment swells in post-Fukushima Japan.

Ageing survivors, victims’ relatives, government officials and foreign delegates will attend the annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorating the US bombing of the Japanese city nearly seven decades ago.

American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, turning the western city into a nuclear inferno and killing an estimated 140,000 in the final chapter of World War II.

At 8:15 am (2315 GMT) the toll of a temple bell will set off a moment of silence, marking the time the bomb was dropped.

Anti-nuclear rallies triggered by last year’s atomic crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are expected alongside the anniversary events in Hiroshima, a long-time focal point for the global movement against nuclear weapons.

Many atomic bomb survivors oppose both military and civil use of nuclear power, pointing to the tens of thousands who were killed instantly in the Hiroshima blast and the many more who later died from radiation sickness and cancers tied to the attack.

Usually sedate Japan has seen a string of anti-nuclear protests since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in June ordered the restart of two reactors.

Noda defended the move citing looming power shortages after Japan switched off its 50 nuclear reactors — which once provided the resource-poor country with a third of its energy — in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Weekly demonstrations outside the prime minister’s official residence have drawn thousands while a rally in west Tokyo last month saw a crowd that organisers claimed swelled to 170,000.

Noda is scheduled to attend Monday’s ceremony along with a host of foreign diplomats, including US Ambassador to Japan John Roos, who became the first official US envoy to attend the ceremony two years ago.

“The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Japan to advance President (Barack) Obama’s goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons,” the embassy said in a statement.

Among other foreign guests is Clifton Truman Daniel, 55, grandson of former US president Harry Truman, who authorised the bombing of Hiroshima and the port city of Nagasaki three days later.

He is the first Truman relative to attend the anniversary event in Japan.

The Hiroshima bombing killed an estimated 140,000 either instantly or from burns and radiation sickness soon after the blast. A second atomic bombing three days later in the city of Nagasaki killed more than 70,000.

The commemoration ceremony comes nearly a year and a half after a quake-sparked tsunami, which left some 19,000 dead or missing, knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima plant, causing meltdowns that spread radiation over a large area and forced thousands to evacuate.

Some have moved back to nearby communities, but many more have not and there are fears it could be decades before the area was deemed safe to live in.

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Truman’s Grandson and the Bombing of Japan

Story from RT.com, August 3, 2012:

The grandson of former US President Harry Truman, who ordered the use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II, has met with survivors in Tokyo. But his visit isn’t exactly filled with apologies.

The visit was “a good first step to healing old wounds,” Clifton Truman Daniel told AFP. He was unapologetic, however, for the actions his grandfather ordered nearly seven decades ago. “I can’t second-guess my grandfather. He always said that he made that decision to end the war quickly. That’s what he believed,” he said.

Daniel told the Japan Times that he is frequently thanked by WWII veterans, who say his grandfather’s decision saved the lives of servicemen.

His visit coincides with a ceremony commemorating the 67th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and last wartime use of the weapons of mass destruction. Daniel is the first relative of President Truman to attend the ceremony.

“I certainly can feel terrible for what happened to them. It’s obviously a difficult subject,” Daniel said when asked whether he planned to publicly apologize or offer condolences to the victims of the bombings.

Daniels was inspired to make the trip when his son brought home a book on the famous story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died from cancer caused by radiation from the Hiroshima bombing, he said.

Nearly 20 percent of the victims of the Hiroshima bombing died from radiation sickness.

In the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” the young girl folds origami paper cranes in the hopes that it will make her wish for recovery come true.

“When my son brought home that book I remember thinking… This is a good thing for them to read… They should know the consequences of decisions,” he told the Japan Times.

After learning how Sadako’s story touched Daniel, the girl’s brother, Masahiro Sasaki, invited him to Hiroshima.

“I am being thanked on my grandfather’s behalf for saving lives, yet I can hold the last paper crane ever made by a little girl who lost her life because of that,” he said of the conflicting emotions he feels regarding the bombing.

A quick end to war, or unnecessary devastation?

Under Truman’s orders, American pilots dropped ‘Little Boy’ on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bombing resulted in the deaths of some 166,000 people. Truman then ordered the US Air Force to drop ‘Fat Man’ over Nagasaki on August 9, killing an additional 60,000 to 80,000 civilians.

Considerable controversy remains over whether the use of atomic bombs was necessary to end the war. Daniel withholds judgment on the matter, he said.
“My grandfather was horrified by the destruction caused by those weapons and dedicated the rest of his presidency trying to make sure that it didn’t happen again. I hope that I can do the same, to work to hopefully rid the world of nuclear weapons,” he said to AFP.

Contrary to Daniel’s statement, publicly available papers from Truman’s presidency indicate he had no regrets about using nuclear weapons against the largely civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And Daniel didn’t receive a universally warm reception at the ceremony.

“I would like him to know that some of those who lost their family members in the bombings will never forgive [the United States] no matter what,” Reiko Yamada, a 77-year-old survivor of the bombings told AFP.

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