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“A Few Days Ago, We Were At War…”

by Nov 24, 2019

“Bob” Shultz was a Radioman 3rd class, CR Division aboard Missouri, during World War II.

He wrote this letter home to his mother and father on August 17, 1945:

“Dear Mom and Dad;

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? A few days ago, we were at war without much prospect of it finishing very soon. Now it’s over, all except the occupation.

On the day the official work was received, the Missouri, with the others ships of Task Force 38, was in position for an air strike on Tokyo. Since we have been in Task Force 38 all along, you will realize that this was nothing new to us. It was a nice sunny day which is a rare thing in the vicinity of Japan, in the summer time. The date, for us out here, was the 15th of August. When the message came, we already had air strikes on the way. Word was flashed to them to return and, after we gathered them all in, we retired to collect our wits and await any orders for our next move.

At eleven o’clock word went out to celebrate the occasion by breaking the battle flags, All the ships flew their largest ensigns and blew their whistles and sirens in honor of this great occasion. We tooted our whistle with much gusto and the Mighty Missouri added her bit by getting the whistle stuck and continuing to toot until the engineers could get the steam secured and make minor repair.

That just about constituted our celebration. We continued in an alert status because, although the war was over, we weren’t really sure that the Japanese knew it. This is very necessary in the forward areas for it takes time to notify all the forces and order them to stop fighting. We have been on the front lines for a long time now, too.

All of us, here, are certainly glad that the war is finally over and are anxiously awaiting to get the final details cleared up so that we can be on our way home. Somehow or other the things we wanted to tell about a few days ago don’t seem to be as important now as they did then.

Anyway, our last replenishment period was spent in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands, where we found all our old friends, the tenders and supply ships from Ulithi Atoll. Ulithi is the atoll in which the island of Mog Mog is, that I told you about in my last letter. Other than that, the replenishment period was much the same. There was a recreation beach on the island of Samar, which was like Mog Mog, except hotter.

After our replenishment we went to sea and proceeded directly to strike at Tokyo. From there we went to the north and struck Hokkaido and made the Muroran Bombardment that I wrote you about before. From then till the end of the war we have made strikes all along the Japanese coast, so many that they are hard to remember.

Our bombardment group made a night bombardment on the Hitachi Arms Factory, Engineering Works and Copper Refinery near Minato on the east coast of Honshu. This was interesting because it was done on a night so black and in weather so bad that planes could not be used to observe the fall of shot. We didn’t have an idea of the damage done until it was photographed by planes the next day and they sent us the pictures. To our surprise and gratification, we found that the damage was extensive, and the targets were well covered. It is amazing what can be done with modern war equipment. We could hardly even see the next ship in column, much less the target which was fifteen miles away.

We are all proud that we have been able to help win this war. Let us all hope that this will be the last time that a war has to be won. Many of our friends have died with that hope. That hope has carried us through many a grinding, grueling day. Let us pray that it carries those charged with formulating and preserving the peace to a successful accomplishment of their task.

Goodbye, now, and I hope to see you soon. Love, Bob Shultz