Mission And Lessons Learned At The United States Army Air Corp

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Introduction On July 29th, 2014 the last surviving member of the United States Army Air Corp (USAAC) aircrew that dropped the first atomic bomb used in warfare died. Theodore Van Kirk, also known as “Dutch”, was the navigator of the Enola Gay the day it dropped the bomb.1 In interviews throughout his life Van Kirk expressed no regret regarding his part in the dropping of the atom bomb, saying it helped to end World War II (WWII).2 The 69th anniversary of that historic mission, Operation Centerboard 1, is on the 6th of August, 2014. This case study will give an overview of Operation Centerboard 1 so the reader can gain a basic knowledge of the mission and provide sources so the reader knows where to find more information. The case study…show more content…
Germany unconditionally surrendered on the 8th of May, 1945. With the European front eliminated Truman turned his attention to Japan and what it would take to get an unconditional surrender there.4 Both the Allied and Japanese forces were planning for an Allied invasion of the island Empire. Truman later wrote in his memoirs that General Marshal told him, “that it might cost half a million American lives to force the enemy’s surrender on his home grounds.”5 Though this figure has been debated over the years there is no doubt, based on the fierce fighting that had already occurred in the Pacific, that many lives would have been lost taking Japan on the ground based. In the spring and summer of 1945 the US was dropping about 20,000 tons of explosives per week on Japan.6 The firebombing of Tokyo in March alone killed 83,000 people.7 The death toll from these firebombing campaigns was so high that most people figured using the newly tested atomic bomb would be a appropriate escalation of force to shock Japan into surrender.8 After years of work the US had the first successful test of a nuclear device on the 16th of July, 1945 in the New Mexico desert. 9 This test, at a test site known as “Trinity”, took the US nuclear program from the research and development phase into the operational phase. Later on the same day as the Trinity test the U.S.S. Indianapolis left port in San Francisco headed for the island of
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