Invasion of Japan turns to occupation
I was on a LST (landing ship tank) in the middle of a huge convoy somewhere in the Pacific. We were loaded with tanks and heavy equipment. Could see ships on all sides of us as far as the eye could see.
We had boarded ship in early August 1945. A few days later we received news about the bomb on Hiroshima and then the one several days later on Nagasaki and finally the news of the surrender. When we first boarded ship we had no idea where we were headed. After the surrender, we learned we were headed for the Philippines and the purpose had been to prepare for the invasion of Japan.
We then wondered if the convoy might turn around and head back for the states, but of course it did not. Ended up serving in the Army of occupation in Japan.
I had left the U.S. from Los Angeles in April 1943 and landed in New Caledonia that same month. Had no convoy and were a lone troop ship zig-zagging all the way over.
From there I served on four islands in the Solomon Islands, most notable being Guadalcanal and Bougainville.
The feeling I had on hearing of the surrender was indescribable and utter relief knowing that I would be going home before too long. Impossible to ever have that same feeling again.
Finally got home in January 1946, after serving for 37 months and 33 of those months in the Pacific and Japan.
Had never had a furlough or overnight pass in all that time. Home at last, home at last, thank God home at last!
Wilsie T. Hutts, Gainesville
A well-planned celebration
Edward "Eddie" Dwyer, Frank Allen and I, all from upstate New York at the time, were in Manila, Philippine Islands, when V-J Day was declared. We had met and planned to celebrate when there were rumors of V-J Day, while serving on the Pacific front.
Frank Allen was a military policeman but that day he was in a medical lab testing water for the alcoholic beverage consumption by our Armed Forces.
Frank had made friends with a driver, a lieutenant of the MPs, and they would give him a bottle, from time to time. Thus, Frank put aside several bottles for his friends.
We found a local restaurant, one flight up, that made a perfect hideaway when news broke out of the victory over Japan. It took the MPs five days to round us up and return us to duty.
Francis Turner, Flowery Branch
‘We were glad it was going to end'
Vaughn Little saw the Japanese bomber planes that landed on Ie Shima island, near Okinawa.
"We were glad it was going to end," said Little, who was a sergeant with the 5th Air Force unit preparing to invade Okinawa. "If we had to go into Japan, Lord have mercy, we would have lost a lot of people."
Little was at sea when the two bombs were dropped. When the two bombers flew to Ie Shima on Aug. 19, Little took pictures. The envoys were then flown to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Manila headquarters in a C-54 plane.
"They had a lot of planes that had no gas to get off the ground," he said. "They took a bulldozer and pushed them up together and burned them up in October 1945."
Little, 90, returned to Doraville and worked for General Motors until he retired.
"So much was happening, there wasn't enough time to think about all the memories," he said. "You done the best you could, and all that was pretty bad, but we made it through."
Gainesville woman recalls brother's view of surrender
Tech Sgt. Jake Reed, 88, of Lawrenceville, had a bird's eye view of Japan's surrender. He watched from a C-46 cargo plane.
"He said that the C-46 had tiny little windows," said Reed's sister, Gainesville resident Henrietta Barrett. "They could see the surrender take place through those tiny little windows."
Reed was a radio operator during the war, and he dialed up the news of the surrender on his shortwave radio. Barrett said Reed was overjoyed with the news - and she was happy her brothers would be coming home.
Though Jake Reed went straight to Georgia Tech after returning from the war, his brother, Bernard Reed, who also served in the Pacific, came home.
"When I saw my oldest brother, I was so excited," Barrett said. "When he left, I was 13, and when he came home, I was 18. He hardly knew me."
Daughter cherishes WWII journal
Hugh Amos Wilson was one for documentation. His journal reflects the events of daily life aboard the USS Baxter near the end of the war. His daughter, Gainesville resident Alice Brock, cherishes the daily log as one of the few indications of what her father experienced in the Pacific.
The journal tells both of battles and entertainment aboard the ship. One entry describes Wilson winning a $5 prize at variety night. Another details the invasion of Okinawa.
"The sea is calm and the day uneventful," the entry, dated April 1, 1945, reads. "The bombardment of Okinawa is on. ... We can see flares and firing. We stayed out of the bay all night."
A brief sentence announces the end of the war.
"Announced at 14:06, ‘Japan has surrendered to the United States,'" it reads.
The ship was decommissioned in 1946, and Wilson made his way home to Atlanta. His sweetheart and future wife, Emily - who the crew aboard the USS Baxter had named the "peach" of the ship - was waiting when he returned.
‘A whole lot of hollering'
Ernest Adams was in the Philippines, waiting to go into Japan when the war ended. He was watching a movie when the announcement came but doesn't remember much else.
"A whole lot of hollering was going on," he said. "They gave another extra ration of beer, but that didn't affect me because I didn't drink."
Adams, 85, was a member of the 24th Infantry Division. After the war, the group traveled to several islands to destroy ammunition and guns. They were also stationed at Nagasaki, where Adams joined the medical corps.
"People talk about how damaging radiation is, but it hasn't affected me yet," he said. "I remember removing a piece of glass from a little Japanese boy's arm. I wasn't qualified to do that, but he didn't want to go to the doctors so he gritted his teeth and let me dig it out."
Adams returned to Gainesville and worked different jobs, including power and insurance companies.
"World War II veterans are getting fewer and fewer every day," he said. "I try to get out and work in the hay field every day."
Cheers, singing and crying
Mordecai Wilson, a Lula city council member, was on a ship near New Zealand when Japan surrendered.
"Everybody was extremely glad and happy because we knew sooner or later we would be going home," he said. "There were cheers and hollering, singing and crying."
Wilson entered the Navy in 1943 and sprained his ankle the night before his ship was to leave Los Angeles. A doctor told him not to go.
"I told him I trained with this outfit and didn't want to be left behind," he said. "My buddies said ‘he's going with us' and carried my gun and gear."
The Navy ship provided spare parts for airplanes and other ships closer to the front. Wilson cooked meals for officers in the 1029th Battalion.
"When you were a black person in the Navy, the only thing you could do was be a cub for the officers or a storage mate," he said. "After we landed Jan. 1, word came down that half of our outfit would be split up, and I was lucky enough to get left behind."
‘Well, boy, we're going to go home!'
Ed Jared of Gainesville served as a pilot in World War II as part of the China-Burma-India Hump operation.
He found out about the end of the war on one of his missions, while in a short-order restaurant eating eggs.
"All of a sudden, a sergeant burst into the room and hollered, ‘The war is over!' And everybody wondered well, you know, has he been drinking or what's wrong with him?" Jared writes in his book, "One Hell of a Ride."
The sergeant went on to say that "Tokyo Rose," the name given by the Allies to female radio broadcasters of Japanese propaganda, had made the statement that Japan was ready to surrender.
According to his book, Jared's immediate thought was "Well, boy, we're going to go home!"