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WW II: Message won't be forgotten

| November 30, 2010 6:19 AM

 I joined the crew of the U.S.S. Minneapolis in San Diego on July 16, 1945. Having served aboard the U.S. Nevada as a radioman and subsequently as a radioman/controller with the FAA, I attained a receiving proficiency of 35 words per minute. It was for this reason that I was assigned to copy press for the Minnie. The ship having just completed overhaul at Brementon departed San Diego on July 16 and Pearl on July 31 for the Philippines. We learned later that the Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk on July 30.

   Five days out of Pearl I started receiving radio news bulletins from WCX, my favorite commercial marine radio station in New York City, about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and several days later, Nagasaki. Two days later, Tokyo Radio broadcasted an appeal for peace.

   A few minutes after 9 a.m. on Aug. 15, while anchored in Subic Bay, I received a flash signal from WCX followed by, "The Japanese Domai News agency announced that Japan has accepted the Allied surrender terms." This message was sent to Captain Roy C. Hudson. He did not make an announcement as we were told that he feared this to be another Japanese trick. A few minutes later another flash - secretary of state Hall verified that the Japanese had accepted the Allies' surrender terms. This was rushed to the captain, who immediately announced it on the P.A. system.

   This was probably the most meaningful communication to arrive aboard a U.S. Navy vessel. Also this no doubt was the most thrilling moment of my life, having copied this important message at 35 w.p.m. without missing a letter. This message also meant that not another single life need be wasted in this horrible war and that soon all of us could be on our way home to our loved ones.

   That evening many pyrotechnics were fired into the air by the dozen or so ships in the bay. The following day the crew was allowed to celebrate ashore with two cans of warm beer, a fitting end to WWII.

   Praise the lord.

HAROLD J. HENNES, RM/2C

Coeur d'Alene

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