Kokura, Japan, 1953

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I always knew that dad had been in Korea and the story of being on leave and running into his brother Jim who was also on leave. The story hadn’t been told for years and I was quite young the last time the slides were dug out from under the stairs and the screen raised in the middle of the living room. The details of where all of this happened had been vague up until last night. Now the historical significance made sense to an adult me.

 

I was browsing through what remained of the slides I brought back from Pennsylvania trying to determine how best to organize them. The first box of 600 slides all had month, year and slide number on them ranging in years from 1959 to 1972. As I scanned them I put them in month and date order and saved them to matching folders. I laughed when I found a set that started with a photo of the Christmas tree and ended with a photo of the Christmas tree from the following year. Some times it took dad a bit of time to finish off those rolls.

 

As I flipped through the slides in the second box I started to notice on some of them Dad had written the subject, place or date. I pulled out ones from a trip Mom and Dad had taken to Canada with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Susie back in 1957. I kept picking through and ran across another batch where some had been labeled from Japan. I took a closer look and realized these pictures were from when Dad had been in the army during the Korean conflict.

 

Dad and My Uncle Jim had roamed around the city of Kokura, Japan during their leave. According to Wikipedia, Kokura, Japan had been the first target of the atomic bomb. Because the city was shrouded in a thick cloud, the planes flew on to Nagasaki, Japan and were dropped there. Orders had been given that the target of the arms factory must be visible when the bombs were dropped. Following the dropping of the A-bomb Kokura wouldn’t be bombed by conventional bombs in order that the destruction of the atomic bomb could be thoroughly measured. It wouldn’t be until after the war the citizens of Kokura would know why the Americans had stopped bombing their city.

 

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From what I can remember Dad mentioning about the locals in Kokura, some weren’t thrilled to see Americans in their homeland. Effigies were hung in trees and burned with large signs denouncing America. Despite the attitude of some, Dad seemed to enjoy the sites he did see and took several pictures of the surrounding mountains and city views. I am sure all of this was quite interesting to a young man who had never been out of the United States before.

 

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