One had been at home on the outskirts of Hiroshima
when the bomb was dropped and was blown out of his house through
a window but not seriously injured. The other man was out of
town at the time. They told Don their story and he asked how
to reach the edge of the city. He was told to take a civilian
bus that ran close to the city on its route around the area.
Two small Japanese vases on display as part of the Oak
Crest Step Back in Time show last weekend probably didnt
attract much attention among the other Japanese memorabilia owned
by resident Don Mosher.
But his story about them brings home the horror of the
atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, that instantly
killed 80,000 people plus thousands more later from the effects
of the intense heat and radiation.
Don, now 102, was part of the first U.S. Occupation Forces
to land in Japan at the end of the war. He was in the Army Quartermaster
Corps that landed at Kure, but then moved to Kobe for the rest
of the 11 months he was there.
He had become acquainted with two missionaries from Germany
who had been in Japan at the outbreak of the war and were stranded
Two small wine vases discovered under a metal plate
at the outskirts of Hiroshima four months after the atomic bomb
was dropped on the city in August 1945. (Schrader photo for ShawMedia)
One Sunday, Don and three other soldiers decided to try
and reach the city. They boarded an old bus that was fueled by
wood chips. It was full of Japanese men and women going to other
locations. He said the engine was so small they had to get out
and walk up hills, even pushing it on one occasion.
When they were dropped off, they witnessed the devastation
caused by the bomb, with near total destruction as far as one
could see into the center of Hiroshima. He had an Argus C-3 camera
and took photos, but only one image survived and of very poor
While walking, Don lifted up a metal plate and found two
small porcelain vases with dirt embedded in them. He said most
everything else in the area had melted from the heat or was destroyed
by the blast.
At the time, U.S. troops were not aware of the dangers
of radiation and this was only four months after the detonation.
But he said he was lucky and got back home, had two healthy daughters
and has lived to be 102.
I chose not to ask him how this venture near Ground Zero
affected him or how he felt about war in general. President Harry
Truman had approved the use of atomic bombs after being convinced
there would be thousands more U.S. military casualties in addition
to the 111,000 troops already killed in the Pacific Theater in
order to win the war. The destruction of major metropolitan areas
was intended to convince the Japanese to surrender quickly.
They did on Sept. 2, 1945.
So 74 years later these two small vases are a reminder
of the terrible losses, and one wonders about the fate of the
unknown family that possessed them.