Thursday, August 6, 2009

64 Years Ago; US Drops Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima

I've already seen sites around the web chastising the US for it's use of nuclear weapons against the Empire of Japan, calling the acts cowardly and unconscionable. I've also seen some sites that are mourning the loss of Japanese life. What I haven't seen nearly enough of is praise of the military commanders and the Commander in Chief for choosing to use a weapon that would save American lives. People are quick to point out the 70,000-80,000 lives that were lost as a result of the initial blast, and the 70,000 more that would die as a result of the exposure, however, few cite the estimated 1,000,000 casualties that the US anticipated suffering as a result of an invasion on the Japanese homeland.
Bombing population centers was standard operating procedure during WWII, practiced by the Germans, British, United States and yes, even the Japanese. It is an unfortunate side effect of war that civilians are killed and it stands a testament to the US military and weapons developers that civilian casualties have been minimized to the effect that they are now.
Military commanders and the President of the United States were faced with the very real prospect of having to invade the Japanese homeland. When casualty and death estimates were worked up by top commanders and the Department of War, numbers for US soldiers ranged from 125,000 to 4,000,000. These deaths in addition to the already suffered 400,000+ troop deaths from the beginning of the war.
The answer to this situation presented itself in the form of two atomic bombs, results of the top secret Manhattan Project. Targeted for destruction were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From teh Wikipedia:
Hiroshima was described as "an important army depot and port of embarkation in the middle of an urban industrial area. It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focussing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. Due to rivers it is not a good incendiary target."
Hiroshima had escaped earlier bombing raids by allied forces so it was seen as a blank canvas upon which to review the effectiveness of the experimental weapon. Moreover, the goal was to gain the greatest psychological effect against Japan and create a very real example for the Japanese nation and the rest of the world of the immense power of the new weapon that the United States possessed.
The order was given, and on August 6, 1945 'Little Boy' was dropped from the B-29 Enola Gay at an altitude of 32,330'. The bomb took 57 seconds to fall to the predetermined height of 2,000' where it self-detonated resulting in the worlds first nuclear attack against a hostile nation.
Unfortunately, the Japanese command did not surrender at once, and a second bomb was ultimately dropped on Nagasaki, an arms manufacturing and port city to the southwest of Hiroshima.
Somewhere between 125,000 and 4,000,000 American lives were saved on that day, and by that decision. I regret that the Japanese allowed the war to get to the point that we had to drop these bombs on their homeland, but I do not regret the lives saved as a result of their use.
God Bless the United States, and God Bless the men who had to make that fateful decision.

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