“Bill, one of the boys isn’t looking too good back there,” said the man dropping down in the co-pilots seat.
“Airsick?” Lt. William Thies asked.
His friend nodded. “Probably all this flying around blind we’ve been doing. Dead reckoning is fine but we really need to find some clear sign to point the way home soon or we’ll all end up sick. There’s something about this not seeing anything but sky and air that can get to you after a while.”
“I’ll bring her down some. Maybe that’ll help.”
The men in the back of the plane felt the descent.
“Told you he would do something about it,” said one young man.
One sick looking man just moaned. “I didn’t want him to know I was airsick. Just think, an airman airsick. Tough man, huh?”
“Just get over by the window and focus your eyes on something instead of the movements.”
The sick man nodded. “Good idea.”
Pressing his face against the window he watched as the plane lowered down through the clouds. He had always liked that part. He felt like one of the new comic book hero types like that super guy, just not having to wear long underwear. He smiled at the thought, already beginning to feel a little better.
He spotted water below and a sense of reality settled over him. It wasn’t solid ground but at least it wasn’t invisible air. His eyes roamed over the water. His teeth hit the window hard as he slammed his faced against the glass.
“What?” His friend turned to him.
“Land–there,” he said to excited to actually give directions.
byfor: The Soldiers of America
WWII in the Pacific, 166 years and 6 days after the Declaration of Independence. I know the United States is celebrating or about to celebrate July 4th, Independence Day, and that isn’t something associated with WWII, but in truth any fight American soldiers are involved in that keep the country independent is part of the celebration to me. And that is why I wanted to write about a story that had escaped me for so long, or perhaps the old mind had forgotten it.
I have mixed feelings about what happened between Japan and the Allies. A lot of innocents died at the end. One has a guilty feeling about being against the bombings of Japan, but it wasn’t the citizens who bombed Pearl Harbor. I know people say that by dropping the atomic bombs that many more lives may have been saved than were lost. But it still doesn’t make me at ease.
This in no way means I think badly of any soldier involved. Orders were given, they were living in the time of war, and they knew more than I did. There are things you cannot understand unless you are there. I’ll never be the one to be a Monday morning quarterback, or more appropriately a Next Century General, when it comes to actions. I have my freedoms and liberties today because of things these men and others like them, including my father, did in the service of their country.
Sure I can have opinions but for some things I just don’t know. I think if we are all honest with ourselves we twist inside about things.
In all honesty things may have turned out very differently if not for that airsick crewman of the American PBY Catalina on July 10, 1942 over the Aleutians near Alaska. The conversation may have been my own creation but the situation was not. I don’t know that there has been an exact dialogue written down.
The crewman really did look out the window as the plane, off course, flew lower because he was sick. He saw land, which meant they could find their way back to their base. But they found something else instead.
About one month earlier Tadayoshi Koga had to make an emergency landing after his Zero had been damaged in an attack run on Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island, Alaska. His Zero flipped upon attempting a landing on Akutan, he died upon impact. He was 19 years old.
Why do I write about this?
Koga’s plane was the first intact Zero the Allies had been able to get their hands on. After recovering the plane and making it work properly again it was tested and the weaknesses of the plane were discovered. The plane that had been destroying the Allies in the Pacific was no longer the deadly threat it had once been.
If not for an airsick crewman the war may have ended differently.
Was it luck in finding the Zero? If so, then whose luck was it, the good of the Allies or the bad of the Japanese?
Also I still cannot help but think of the results of the two bombs. “But look what they did at Pearl Harbor.” Those civilians didn’t do it. And like I said, I have nothing but respect for the men who carried out the mission. Did they know completely the devastation that would happen? What went through their minds before during and all the years after?
People like to think soldiers don’t think about the results, the impacts. My father doesn’t talk about his war experience. He doesn’t want to relive it. I don’t know any of those in the service that do. They talk about their time with their fellow soldiers and the good times they were able to snatch.
Unfortunately for me I have this mind that feels both sides of something. I cannot help but feel the hurt and anger and devastation on both sides of the war. I understand those who say Pearl Harbor meant it was okay to do what happened. Then I see those surviving citizens in Japan who say my child didn’t do anything. Then the Pearl Harbor parent will come back with, “Neither did my child.”
Independence comes at such a high price. We are all the same people. We all want the same things. I just wish we all could understand that.
You won’t find images of either Pearl Harbor or the bombings in Japan here. I looked at them and neither of them are something I want to share. I don’t want to remember them. I am hoping that after sleep my amnesia will take it away . . . but I don’t think it will.
An Appreciative American and Son of a Veteran
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