- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Sixty years ago today, Hiroshima, Japan, became the first target of an atomic bomb, with Nagasaki the second target three days later. Thus, a war that lasted four years was ended in four days.

To those who decry the devastation caused by President Truman’s decision to detonate this awesome weapon, I remind them of the lives saved, not lost.

I’m very proud my uncle was not only a member of the Enola Gay that dropped “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, the first atomic bomb in history but was actually the bombardier. The bottom line, as my uncle said many times, was he slept well at night knowing he helped save more lives than he killed by bringing the war to a sudden halt.

The late Tom Ferebee, a native of Mocksville, N.C., was an Air Force lieutenant, hand-picked for a highly secret mission by pilot Paul Tibbets, Jr., as part of the Enola Gay’s 12-man crew.

Debate still swirls around the exhibit of the rebuilt Enola Gay at the museum near Dulles Airport on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., mostly by egotistical liberals awash in shame that the United States of America would wreak such damage upon the population of Hiroshima. Never do they show remorse that the Imperial Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack that got us into World War II.

In a story years ago about his participation, here’s what I said:

He quietly answers accusations he must feel guilty with “all that blood on your hands,” responding firmly he has never tossed and turned in his sleep, never second-guessed his country’s decision and knows in his heart he was responsible for saving thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of lives — American lives.

How do real Americans — that is, those outside the confines of political Washington, D.C. — feel about Col. Ferebee? Let’s take a look at a celebration in Mocksville in 1991 in which the town erected a marker to their famous son. A local news story, unembellished with political nuances, read in part:

“Ferebee changed the world when he launched the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945. A second atom bomb was dropped by a different crew on Nagasaki Aug. 9. Japan surrendered on Aug. 10 and World War II ended.”

The marker at the city limits simply reads: “Family Home Site of Col. Thomas W. Ferebee, Bombardier on the Enola Gay. Dropped Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945.”

To refute today’s politically correct critics, perhaps it should also provide some fine print explaining the stark fact this act saved 38,000 American lives, the “low ball” estimate of liberal revisionists, or up to 1 million, if you value the judgment of those who decided to drop the bomb. It also saved 100,000 Allied prisoners of war.

Why? Because Tokyo had ordered that the moment the U.S. invaded Japan, these 100,000 POWs were to be stabbed, shot, beheaded or otherwise slaughtered.

But Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed all that.

Let’s pick up the rest of the story at Col. Ferebee’s hometown celebration as reported by Susan Shinn in the Salisbury, N.C., Post in 1991:

“Several hundred Davie Countians turned out to honor their native son Monday with a parade at town square and the dedication of a marker at Ferebee’s homeplace on U.S. 64. …

“And Ferebee brought his best friends: Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay; its navigator, Maj. Theodore (Dutch) Van Kirk; and Col. Harry Boothe. No one here can imagine how proud I am to be here,” Ferebee said. ‘You people have remembered me. I am happy to have three of my best friends here with me.’ …

“The men worked together 101/2 months before their mission. ‘Tom put the bomb where it belonged.’ Tibbets said. ‘What we did that day as a crew changed the nature of wartime forever. …

” ‘If I could pick a brother, I’d pick Tom Ferebee.’ ”

Someone once said war is hell. Kill or be killed. Even Japanese survivors at Hiroshima have said, “If Japan had the bomb, it might have used it in a worse way.” Others have said, “We need to admit the crimes committed by Japan before we can ask for an apology from the United States.”

Atrocities? The Bataan death march, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima. Those are names for Americans to remember, but most of all, Pearl Harbor.

Jim Martin is chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a national senior citizen nonpartisan advocacy group made up of many veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.



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