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Subject: Truman and the Bomb - The Final Word

My dad is a WWII vet, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division 325 Glider Infantry Regiment. 
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 Japan. 
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 nobody shed
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 won.” 

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 Infantry Regiment.

Photo of 325 I Company, my dad Jack Cimino is in the first row, legs crossed, third from right.

Jerry Cimino
The Beat Museum
540 Broadway (at Columbus)
San Francisco, CA 94133

Jerry, thanks for that.

And a shot of Chinaco Anejo for your Dad.  


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