Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
Russia diplomatically rebuffed Japanese overtures, planning to join the war against Japan for, no doubt, the acquisition of Japanese islands and demands of reparations. As plans went forward for the invasion, President Harry Truman made the decision to deploy the super top-secret atomic bomb. The United States sent a formal warning to Japan that a new devastating weapon would be used on them if they did not surrender unconditionally. The militarists ignored talk of giving up, even as the emperor and the peace elements of the government continued seeking negotiations through back channels. As providence would have it, two bombs were dropped on Japan, on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing about 200,000 people, mostly civilians. Although more people had been killed in the fire-bombings, the nature of the explosions and the fallout, in the days and weeks after, caused more agonizing deaths. The bombs brought the downfall of the militarists and an agreement to surrender to the Americans.
Representatives of the Empire of Japan on board USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945
The navigator on the USS Missouri, 24-year-old Lt. Cmdr. James Starnes, through a number of interesting providential circumstances, became the youngest man in that position on any battleship in the U.S. fleet. It fell to him to serve as officer of the deck for the surrender ceremonies. A kindly and gracious man in his later years, he never forgot that moment he had to step up and fulfill a role that history would remember as long as the war is remembered. He died in 2016 at the age of 95.
Japanese delegation leaving the USS Missouri, September 2, 1945