Sure, it was all entirely devastating. But however important Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, I wonder if they were necessarily decisive as everyone says they were. Whatever about any military industry that was there, those two cities were civilian soft targets. Japan could still congratulate itself as to somehow imagine that they were winning, or should be and could be winning in the bigger picture, say, in the Philippines, regardless of losing important battles in the past there as well. Japan did not surrender in the days following the second bomb, and the days would drag on. They would not surrender until August 14, 1945, fully five days after the second bomb with obviously no third bomb falling. I’m guessing there had to be something else to push the decision besides any taunting from the USA.
News would finally come of what might be called a third bomb, that is, what happened in the Philippines on August 10, just one day after the second bomb. This news of a “third bomb”, though nothing nuclear, would have been strategically the end of any hope of victory for the entire war. This “third bomb” did not involve any massive battle and was not hard fought. It was ridiculously insignificant compared to Little Boy and Fat Man. But what the USMC had done in the Philippines on August 10, 1945, heralded the end of Japanese aggression in the Philippines and decisively ended any possible hope of their continuing with their aggression. When they heard the news, they would have to surrender, and they did.
So, what is it that happened in the Philippines? Glad you asked. It’s a story in pictures. Here’s an original newspaper story that my dad had specially framed up. You can find others copies online. This is the actual newspaper:
Sometime before the dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man, the Imperial Japanese Army Officer Lieutenant Minoru Wada was captured by the USMC on Mindanao of the Philippines. He’s an American born Japanese fellow, who, as was the practice at the time, grew up and went to school in Japan. He was American, but was taken into the Japanese Army as the Japanese aggression began. He betrayed Japan, although with the best of intentions, so as to lower casualties in Japan by ending all hope for Japanese victory in the Philippines, and thus ending all hope for Japan to be victorious in their overall war of aggression, forcing their immediate surrender. Army General Douglas MacArthur had long stated that the Philippines were absolutely strategically necessary for Japan.
Minoru Wada might well have been told of the intransigence of Japan in the face of Little Boy and then, as the mission dependent on his betrayal was being readied, he might have well been told of the dropping of Fat Man without any reaction from Japan. The pressure must have set him to shaking quite literally. This betrayal, surely saving even millions of lives, would bring Japan to give up. This was not a betrayal then, at all. He did the right thing for humanity. There was zero loss of life on the American side. All they did was to take out the well hidden headquarters of the Imperial Japanese 100th Division and their communications center, ending effective Japanese military action. Four days later, Japan did indeed surrender.
Now, I suppose I’ll get blasted for saying such an outlandish thing. The events of Little Boy and Fat Man over against this little operation in Mindanao are incomparable. Yes, but the Japanese military machine seemed to be calling the “bluff”, if you will, of two bombs so different from each other and therefore likely being unique in production and not at all exemplars for an unlimited supply of similar nuclear bombs. The arguments among the top brass must have been intense, with anything else that might happen being that which would lead them to surrender. They were risking so very much. The loss of the effective control of the Philippines was simply too much to bear in the wake of Little Boy and Fat Man.
Odd thing about Minoru Wada, he had worked closely with my dad, George Byers Jr, who was flying for the USMC VMB 611 at the time in the Philippines, on Mindanao. My dad is to be seen in the upper left of the bottom group of four pictures in the newspaper story above. In that picture he is the one in the lower right (the back of his head, but unmistakable to me, his son!). Dad totally respected integrity and honesty, and what he saw in Minoru Wada would have captured his imagination. He put the original photos of Minoru Wada in frames and hung them up around the house, including the original newspaper story (the actual newspaper). Dad pointed out to me as a little kid the bomber with the “stick” of bombs falling. So, I gotta wonder who the pilot of that particular PBJ-1 seen out the window is. These pictures are from our family home back in the day…
Dad was just 21 years old in 1945. Here’s a picture of him with the typical aircraft of the VMB 611, that is, the North American PBJ-1 (either “D” or, probably “J”) medium bomber airplane which sported twelve to thirteen .50 caliber machine guns, and carried bombs, depth charges, 5-inch rockets, or an aerial torpedo:
Placing him in the Philippines at the time is a citation he received for an Air Medal. I only just happened to get this just the other day. Yikes!
And the Air Medal with the numeral 5 for that citation:
The Air Medal for numbers of missions surprises me. I’m guessing he’s done hundreds over the many years. Antiaircraft fire is nasty for sure. He’s becoming a decorated member of his squadron at the same time as Minoru Wada is captured and brought on side. I’m sure dad’s meeting up with Minoru Wada was very formative of his own character for the rest of his time in the military, which was to be a long time indeed. Minoru Wada’s name was changed for him. It is unknown if he is still alive. If he is, I would like to thank him for what he did.
One of the last things VMB 611 did was to accompany (for navigation purposes) F4U Corsairs to Shanghai, China. The VMB 611 was shutting down, and dad joined up with the occupying forces in China (getting another medal for that), and then went on to head up the Checkerboard squadron in Japan and Korea, with the medals piling up as he went along.
The abundance of medals, I’m told, is most extraordinary, as in those later years the flow of medals slowed down to almost nothing.
What have I learned from dad? Just be faithful to what you need to do in the circumstances right before you, step by step. Just do it. Do it fiercely. No apologies. No compromise. Ever.
This is never easy. But do it. Not everyone is given over to doing things right. The VMB 611 had an extremely rocky start. Horrible. Like hell. It seems with people doing what they shouldn’t be doing. Putting hundreds of our own at risk. Horrible. Horrible. I’m hoping my dad missed all that. I don’t know. Finally they got established, did what they needed to do – thanks Minoru – thanks dad – lots of great crew and pilots – and just that quick they were disbanded. Take the opportunity to be faithful while you have it. In this case, they were there to do a simple flight that would assist Japan to surrender forthwith, saving millions of lives. And I’m sure that was by far the easiest flight any of them had ever done in their careers. Easy or difficult doesn’t matter. Just be faithful. Always. Do it fiercely. No apologies. No compromise. Ever.
One of our fishermen in the parish, who takes care of the fisheries, that is, gave me his pellet rifle the other day complaining that the scope was off a bit, and therefore he could no longer successfully shoo away, as it were, the kingfishers, who eat enormous quantities of fish, the crows, who only eat the eyes of the fish and leave the rest, and the blue heron, for which he has a special permit. He knows nothing about zeroing in scopes. Neither do it. I might know something about Glocks, but that’s it. “I’ll get ‘The Hog,'” said I.
“The Hog” wears a “Hog’s Tooth” on paracord around his neck. A “Hog’s Tooth” is a 7.62x 51mm NATO round usually shot out of the M40A6, he being a Marine Sniper with plenty of confirmed kills. He lives just down the street. He was happy to take the pellet rifle for such a good end to zero it in. He did it right away, and it works great says the fisherman.
Meanwhile, “The Hog” and I got to talking, and the conversation came around to my dad, as it does when speaking of all things USMC. Being a history buff, he wanted to have a look-see at dad’s medals list and the actual medals that Mark Meadows and the great Beverly were able to obtain for me (after decades of no success with just me trying).
And that brings me to today…
If, after watching that short video – I laughed all the way through it – you’re wondering about what the incredible story must be behind this, click the link just above and that will list some more videos about what the Congressional Medal of Honor was for in the forsaken frozen mountains of NOKO in 1950. This guy purposely crashed his plane to come to the aid of his fellow pilot who had been shot down. But read or watch the story.
I’m especially interested in this because this happened to my dad, also Department of the Navy, but this time with the USMC fighter-attack Corsair Checkerboarders. Dad was also shot down, crash landing, and was rescued by his fellow Marines at incredible risk to themselves. I’m forever grateful! These guys are rightly called the greatest generation.
At Myrtle Beach I saw things with both mom and dad that had a huge effect on me. They would bring me to the US Air Force Base (the bones of which are pictured above) and have me eat with the pilots and such. The base would soon close because of a decision to ditch the A-10s. Ironically, it was just now decided in 2019 to upgrade this close air support fighter especially loved by the guys on the ground.
In the speech to announce the closing, the officer said: “It’s the end.” My mom copied that out in longhand, again and again, on bits of paper that I would find later here and there, noting the context of the closing and the name and rank of the beloved speaker. The closing acted for them as the closing of an entire era that was held in living memory, but that too, they knew, would soon pass as well. “It’s the end.”
The two of them used to sit at the end of the runway when it was still military and watch the guys practice their take-offs and landings amidst fancy stuff in the air: warthogs and other jet fighters, a great show instigating lots of memories for dad in one way (surely calling to mind those who didn’t live to die another day back in WWII and the Korean War) and for mom in another way (surely calling to mind those many millions who were murdered by the Nazis).
Dad would later have some health incidents for which I was present in Myrtle Beach. Mom would die at Myrtle Beach in a place pictured above. Here’s a google-map shot of some items placed in an outdoor museum the South side of the runway, which, if you have good eyes, you can find in the picture at the top of this post:
Here’s a fantastic video with some flying action shots, including the Vought Corsair. How they’ve changed since the gull-wing Corsairs dad flew!
Both mom and dad had been through some great spiritual retreats at Mepkin Abbey in their last years. They had taken great notes and spoke glowingly of the retreat master. And for that I thank the dear Lord. “It’s the end”? No. They both learned that, in fact, as the Funeral Mass Preface has it:
“Life is changed, not ended.”
Good speech, that, on Memorial Day, at Arlington National Cemetery. An even greater speech, also at Arlington, but on Veterans Day, Armistice Day, follows:
Long before this, way back in the day, Ronald Reagan narrated this original pieces of General George Patton. Note that the first thing he does in a victory speech is to remember the fallen. Lest we forget.
I suppose I’m eccentric, but for the moments when the cemetery was empty of visitors, I drove the paths and side-paths slowly, stopping often, while letting the bagpipes belt out on the car speakers. I’m sure the angels didn’t mind. It’s quite the powerful video.
Early this morning I took a trip up to Valleytown Cemetery and cleaned up some of the more poorly taken-care-of gravestones, replanting fallen flags of the veterans. A parishioner happened by and we prayed together in the lower end of the cemetery.
Way back up top, not far from the chapel, one will see this marker above. Look closely at the dates. That’s SIXTEEN years old, folks. Sixteen. What was I doing at 16? I wasn’t laying down my life for anyone. This guy was laying down his life for us all at 16.
Do you want to know what a Gold Star family looks like? Look at the inscription on the marker of the picture below, and then look at the dates…
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
By the way and just to say, the more I find out about my ancestry, the more interesting it gets. Lots of family were from nearby where I am now in WNC, even though I grew up about 1,000 miles away. I do have Scots-Irish in me as well on my dad’s side. That’s pretty much exclusively who’s here in these here mountains. So, I’m a local boy after all.
Memorial Day is coming up. When I was a kid, my idea of a cemetery was that it was filled with people who died of old age. It was one of Ronald Reagan’s many speeches at Arlington National Cemetery which set me straight. They’re all boys, teenagers, some out of high school, some just married, all of them giving all.
In this sorry world, we are all of us living on borrowed time bought and paid for. We must be thankful.
Meanwhile, Jesus, lays down His life to bring us to eternal life. He stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty, mercy bought and paid for in His own justice. We must be thankful. Humbly thankful.
Meanwhile, did you notice all the crosses in the cemetery? Can you pick out the Stars of David? I see two.
When’s the last time you volunteered to visit an “old folks home”, a nursing home, a rehab, a hospice? When I was a little kid my sister encouraged me to go to “Saint Joseph’s Home” up on 9th Avenue in my home town. I would ride my little bike there and bring a smile to the residents there. I was only, like, say, eight years old. They thought it was great. Some just couldn’t believe I was there for them, that I had to be mischievous. But they got over that.
On my last trip to one of our rehab/nursing homes, I saw the Pararescue patch that was handing outside the door of David. I immediately went in to thank him for his service. We had a good chat. The history of the PJs (Pararescue Jumpers), is wild. They are the only group in the entire Department of Defense that is dedicated solely to rescue. When the SEALs and Green Berets and the rest get in trouble, it’s the PJs who come to the rescue. I owe them, enough, I think, to get green feet tatted on my posterior (see the patch above) for having saved my ass (so to speak). But I haven’t done that.
Looks like just a bit of confusion, like “someone did something” above. So, let’s move in media res and get a better idea. You can’t fix something unless you know what it is.
Not good enough. Let’s make this more personal. Jesus, just now risen from the dead, having been ripped to shreds Himself, blood everywhere, walks in the midst, the blood of His followers all over Him, witnessing to their belief in life eternal. As the Master, so the disciple.
As of 4/27/2019 there are at least 310 killed and 469 wounded. More die and are injured as raids take place and “collateral incidents” occur. Always increasing numbers of terrorists are arrested or killed, depending on circumstances. Innocents can unfortunately be in the way as terrorist cowards hide behind women and children.
ISIS has claimed responsibility, having sucked in the local Islamicist terrorist group, National Thowheed Jamath.
All the spooky groups were telling the crowd in Sri Lanka 17 days before it happened. But just as Sri Lanka has traitors in it’s government, so do we. No decision maker knew.
It’s personal to me because these are other members of the Body of Christ. That’s as personal as it gets.
But, just to say, I also have priest friends in Sri Lanka with whom I lived in Rome at various colleges for years of studies.
I’ve even had an interview about the liturgy with the Cardinal Archbishop, his Eminence Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don. He says he’s been told by the local Muslims that this wasn’t about anything Islamicist. “He says he’s been told…” Clever way of saying that. He says he has zero concern for the rebuilding of churches. He’s concerned about rebuilding lives. Good for him. Blessings upon them all.
I hope the perps convert and are forgiven. I hope the victims, if alive, can forgive. It will do them an eternity of good. We must pray for that: Hail Mary…
Having said all that, even on this Divine Mercy Sunday, my sentiment is also summed up by the Chinese University student at the time of the Boston Marathon Bombing Dun “Danny” Meng when he escaped and was interviewed by Police Officer Tommy Saunders. It was the last thing Dun said to Tommy: “Get those *************!” This isn’t a vengeance thing over against someone who has repented. No. The bombers were on their way to New York City to do up some more bombing, more killing, more terrorism. They weren’t going to stop until the were stopped. So, yeah: “Get those *************!”
Having said all that, none of that is inconsistent with this being Divine Mercy Sunday.
And to those cynics who condemn religion because God permitted such a thing to happen, look again. He took our place, the innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
And… and… He’s risen from the dead. And He intends to have us rise from the dead for life eternal. Thank you, Jesus.