NO REASON TO BE: My Uncle Leveled Hiroshima. We’re Not Sorry.
Paglia’s father was among many thousands spared because of President Harry Truman’s decision to launch a nuclear strike against Imperial Japan. His order to attack Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, was carried out in no small part by my uncle, Maj. Tom Ferebee. He was the bombardier aboard the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, and that in doing so, ushered in the nuclear age.
As President Obama prepares for his visit to Hiroshima May 27, I recall my uncle’s personal reflections. As the bombardier, peering through his Norden bombsight, he was the last man to see Hiroshima in any detail before it was leveled, making his perspectives on the event somewhat unique.
He always said he never tossed and turned at night over his role in the mission. While he is distinguished in his hometown of Mocksville, N.C., he was occasionally accused, in later years, of having blood on his hands. He was always calm and confident in answering critics. He never second-guessed Truman’s decision and took pride in knowing the critical job he performed in bringing the war to an end.
Four days after releasing that single bomb over Hiroshima, Japan offered its surrender. As a young military man, Maj. Ferebee knew what that meant. For months prior to the bombing, the War Department had been preparing for an invasion of Japan, the planning for which included casualty figures.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated as many as 134,556 dead and missing Americans. A study for the office of War Secretary Henry Stimson put the figure at 400,000 to 800,000 dead GIs, with Japanese fatalities reckoned between five and 10 million military personnel and civilians. In addition to combat casualties, the more than 27,000 American POWs held by Japan were subject to immediate execution should the United States invade.
These facts are indisputably true, but the fact is that hand-wringing over Hiroshima is just so much virtue-signaling by people who probably never said a bad word about Stalin or Mao’s mass murders.