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Radiation effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on WW2’s American soldiers

When the servicemen returned to the United States, many of them suffered from strange rashes and sores. Years later some were afflicted with disease (such as thyroid problems and leukemia) or cancer associated with radiation exposure. Little could be proven beyond a doubt, and all of their disability and compensation claims were denied,

The Last Great Untold Story of World War II—and the Lingering Effects TodayTHE NATION, Greg Mitchell, August 19, 2011  ”……..Most of the [U.S.]troops in Hiroshima were based in camps on the edge of the city, but a larger number did set up camps inside Nagasaki. Because of the alleged absence of residual radiation, no one was urged to take precautions. Some bunked down in buildings close to ground zero, even slept on the earth and engaged in cleanup operations, including disposing bodies, without protective gear. Few if any wore radiation detection badges.

“We walked into Nagasaki unprepared…. Really, we were ignorant about what the hell the bomb was,” one soldier would recall. Another vet said: “Hell, we drank the water, we breathed the air, and we lived in the rubble. We did our duty.”

A marine named Sam Scione, who had survived battles on Guadacanal, Tarawa and Okinawa, now arrived in Nagasaki, sleeping first in a burned-out factory, then a schoolhouse. “We never learned anything about radiation or the effects it might have on us,” he later said. “We went to ground zero many times and were never instructed not to go there.” A year later, on his return to the United States, his hair began to fall out and his body was covered in sores. He suffered a string of ailments but never was awarded service-related disability status.

The occupying force in Nagasaki grew to more than 27,000 as the Hiroshima regiments topped 40,000. Included were many military doctors and nurses. Some stayed for months. The US Strategic Bomb Survey sent a small group of photographers to take black-and-white photos of blast effects. By all accounts the Americans were charmed by the Japanese, thankful that the bomb might have helped end the war and profoundly affected by what they witnessed. “In the back of our minds, every one of us wondered: What is this atomic bomb?” a Nagasaki veteran later testified. “You had to be there to rea1ize what it did.” After describing the horrors, he added: “We did not drop those two [bombs] on military installations. We dropped them on women and children…. I think that is something this country is going to have to live with for eternity.”……

Mark Hatfield, a young naval officer in 1945 and later a longtime US senator (known for his opposition to the Vietnam war), would reflect on his “searing remembrances of those days” in Hiroshima when a “shock to my conscience registered permanently within me.” Much of his legislative and personal philosophy was “shaped by the experience of walking the streets of your city,” he wrote to the mayor of Hiroshima in 1980, adding that he was “deeply committed to doing whatever I can to bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons.”…
When the servicemen returned to the United States, many of them suffered from strange rashes and sores. Years later some were afflicted with disease (such as thyroid problems and leukemia) or cancer associated with radiation exposure. Little could be proven beyond a doubt, and all of their disability and compensation claims were denied, despite the efforts of a new group, the Committee for US Veterans of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Killing Their Own, a book published in 1982, charged that their experience “closely resembles the ordeals of a wide range of American radiation victims, consistently ignored and denied at every turn by the very institutions responsible for causing their problems.”….
In the years that followed, thousands of other “atomic vets,” among the legion who participated in hundreds of US bomb tests in Nevada and in the Pacific, would raise similar issues about exposure to radiation and the medical after-effects.
The costs of the superpower arms race after Hiroshima can be measured in trillions of dollars, but also in the countless number of lives lost or damaged due to accidents and radiation exposure in the massive nuclear industry that grew to astounding proportions throughout the country in the 1950s and 1960s. But the long-overlooked military personnel who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki—key players in one of the last largely untold stories of World War II—were truly the first “atomic soldiers,” and how many may still be suffering from their experience remains unknown.
Greg Mitchell’s new book and e-book is Atomic Cover-up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki and The Greatest Movie Never Made.
http://www.thenation.com/blog/162864/last-great-untold-story-world-war-ii%E2%80%94and-lingering-effects-today

August 20, 2011 - Posted by | history

1 Comment »

  1. […] Radiation effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on WW2′s American …Aug 20, 2011 … Radiation effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on WW2′s American soldiers. When the servicemen returned to the United States, many of them … […]

    Pingback by Nagasaki ww2 | Ezofficeflow | April 22, 2012 | Reply


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