Buried deep in the national archives for four decades and known only by our president and top military commanders is a document now declassified showing a detailed plan for the invasion of Japan. It was called Operation Downfall. The first assault, Nov. 1, 1945, would be on the Island of Kyushu. Adm. Leahy estimated losses of 250,000 Americans. The second assault, March 1, 1946, would be on the Home Island of Honshu. Gen. Willoughby of Gen. MacArthur’s staff estimated losses of 1 million. Later, those estimates were considered conservative.
President Harry Truman approved the plan July 24, 1945. Operation Downfall committed 4.5 million fighting men. On that July day, Wally Maring (Marine Corps) was deployed on Iwo Jima. Arley Blankenburg (Army) was deployed on Okinawa. Bomber pilot Jack Walters, after 30-plus missions over Germany, was dispatched to California to await further orders. I, a Navy man, was assigned to an aircraft carrier soon to push westward in Pacific waters.
In early August 1945, Truman approved the use of two powerful bombs that devastated the Japanese, ending the war. Though Americans today live daily with the threat of suicide bombers, the bombers are not Japanese. It was our good fortune to have a patriot in the White House.
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