By Todd Raffensperger “I submit that it was the wrong decision. It was wrong on strategic grounds. And it was wrong on humanitarian grounds.” It could be assumed that such a statement, pertaining to the decision by President Harry S. Truman to order the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would come from an academic studying the whole issue of the atomic bomb, or perhaps part of a speech given by a peace activist. But the fact that it was a United States naval officer, a rear admiral in fact, is what makes the career of Ellis M. Zacharias intriguing. He had made this statement in an article he wrote for Look magazine in 1950, five years after the bombs had been dropped, four years after he had retired from a career that spanned more than three decades. He was a hero, but a sad one of sorts. A hero for doing what he did to try to compel the Japanese government to surrender and stop a futile, unwinnable war, but sad because he could not do so in time to stop the horrific bloodshed that would mark the final days of the crumbling Japanese Empire. Sad that he could not curb the suffering of a people he had come to know, admire, and love. A Young Man With a Passion for the Navy Ellis Zacharias could remember, as he wrote in his memoirs, how he first decided to join the Navy, as an 8-year-old son of a tobacco grower in Jacksonville, Florida, watching the gray vessels of t


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in