Truman and the Bomb - The
My dad is a WWII vet, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division 325 Glider
He was 18 years old in 1944 when he was drafted right out of high
school. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge
(Belgium, January 1945) and was part of the Allied occupation of
Germany until 1946 when he finally came home.
My dad was one of the “Replacements” that were written about in Stephen
Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.
These were the guys who weren’t part of D-Day but were typically
teenagers with a minimal of training who
were brought in after the main assault on the continent for the big
push into Germany. Dad, like most of the men
at the Battle of the Bulge, suffered from frostbite and was awarded a
purple heart. As a kid my mother and brother
and I used to joke, “Dad got “cold feet” and won a medal.”
Also, like most of the men of this era, my father never spoke much
about the war. I knew he had a German luger
tucked away in a locked trunk along with a Nazi flag he’d taken from
somewhere - spoils of war. He also wore a
finely made German wristwatch and we often used a beautiful pair of
binoculars he took from a German Officer
to look at the craters of the moon. As I got older I often
wanted to ask my dad about his war experiences but knew
from experience not to bring it up. I’d tried many times over the
years but dad was a man of few words as far as
that was concerned.
One time, when I was in my mid-teens, we were discussing in US History
class President Truman’s decision to
drop two atomic bombs on Japan. The teacher had us kids go back and
forth on the merits of the arguments the
same as your readers have: did we really need to do it? Why drop
TWO bombs instead of one? Would we have
dropped them on the Germans had the bombs been ready earlier and was it
easier to drop them on the Japanese
because they weren’t Caucasian? I decided to ask my father for
some help with my assignment because I knew
he loved Truman.
When I told him it was for school and the subject was Truman and the
Bomb, my dad didn’t hesitate.
"Harry Truman saved my life.” He said it casually and like it was
a matter of fact that couldn’t be questioned.
"You probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Harry Truman.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“We were packing our bags.
We’d fought our way across Germany and finally entered Berlin.
And then they gave us the
word, not to get too comfortable because we were on our way to
We were going to invade the
main islands of Japan. It was the only way to end the war.
“We knew what this meant.
We’d read the papers and seen the newsreels. We knew about the
Bataan Death March and
Kamikazes and we knew it would be a helluva fight. We would soon be
boarding ships bound for the Pacific. When we got word of the two atomic bombs
a tear for the Japanese. There was never any question of whether it was right or wrong or just
or not just. We had the bomb, they didn’t, we dropped ‘em, we
Dad summed it all up this way. “Who can say if it was right or
wrong. But I will admit I did shed a tear
on VJ Day. I was 19 years old and I cried because now I knew I
was going to live.”
Dad is now 85 years old, lives in Florida with his first and only wife
of sixty-some years (my mother)
and just attended the final reunion of the 82nd Airborne 325th Glider
Photo of 325 I Company, my dad Jack
Cimino is in the first row, legs crossed, third from right.
The Beat Museum
540 Broadway (at Columbus)
San Francisco, CA 94133
Jerry, thanks for that.
a shot of Chinaco Anejo for your Dad.
e-mail to Bart
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