At the Potsdam Conference held July 26, 1945, leaders of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Japan for unconditional surrender. Japan’s leader refused to surrender. President Harry S. Truman made the crucial decision to bomb two Japanese cities. It is almost certain that if that decision had not been made, the United States would have invaded Japan and many more people, both American, our allies, and Japanese, would have died in a bitterly-fought extended war after the peace in Europe had been signed.
RSp3 Grover D. Jones and buddies Harlor, Bridges and Jack Jones,
shipmates, on a mountain outside Nagasaki, Japan, 1945.
Navy Radioman Third Class Grover Duffie Jones and his crew were ordered to Nagasaki Bay for occupation duty shortly following the dropping of the bombs. Their mission was to restore communications. From his autobiography he wrote about this assignment. Because of the significantly historical nature of his (my husband’s) account, I share from it here:
“Occupation duty would be dangerous, even though fighting had ceased. Little did we know how very dangerous the assignment would be, for the aftermath of atomic fallout had not been studied extensively by scientists.”
Deployed from their main troop ship from a harbor in Hawaii, the radio crew and their officers and the radio equipment they needed were loaded onto an LST (Landing Ship Tank) and made the treacherous journey from Hawaii through storms at sea, finally arriving at Nagasaki Harbor.
Grover Jones continues in his journal: “A US Marine crew had arrived at Nagasaki some days before us and had established a base out in the mountains some few miles from the docks. The facility had been a prisoner of war building until the surrender of Japan.
“We were assigned to occupy what had been the customs building about six miles toward the entrance of the harbor. We quickly unloaded and were able to set up quite comfortably in those quarters.”
He follows with details of how they established radio communication. Then about the destruction from the atomic blast in the area where the Marines and Navy detachments were housed, Jones wrote:
“During my stay in Nagasaki, I made only one trip into the edge of the city. That part of Nagasaki was on the outer edge of the area struck by the atomic bomb. It had relatively small damage compared to the worst-hit sections. The people there who had survived the blast had unbelievably high respect for the American armed forces. They had brought an end to the terrible war the country had suffered for several years.
“A short distance from the part of the city we were in was utter destruction. Nothing remained. Within walking distance from the dock was the metal framework of a giant two-story building. It looked as if a giant hand had reached down and pushed the building toward the ground. The metal framework was twisted in every direction. No vegetation survived near the building.
“No warning was ever given to us that atomic radiation was there and might affect our bodies and possibly cause death or disease.”
The Navy detachment was successful in its mission to restore communication from Nagasaki to other American forces and ships in the general Pacific area. With that task completed, Seaman Third Class Grover Duffie Jones and his crew were sent on the long journey through stormy seas on a hospital troop ship back to the United States. They landed in Seattle, Washington in the midst of a bitter winter storm in January of 1946. Even his deployment from Seattle to Jacksonville, Florida for discharge from the Navy was frought with true stories of survival during a blizzard and severe winter weather in his westward travels on his way home.
His niece Betty Wilson salutes her uncle, RSp3 Grover Jones
He was honorably discharged from the U. S. Navy on February 11, 1946. He had been inducted on December 11, 1943 and entered active service on December 18, 1943. His record reads that he had a period of active service of two years, two months and one day. He wrote this at the end of his autobiographical sketch of his Navy service: “I returned home much older than the eighteen-year-old lad who left in the midst of wartime, and, I hope, much wiser for my experiences.”
Throughout several months of 1946, he suffered from a severe attack of painful arthritis, which rendered him unable to walk and in bed most of the time. He suspected, but neither he nor the doctors knew for sure, that the arthritis may have resulted from atomic fallout during his months in Nagasaki Bay. A faithful family doctor in Gainesville, Georgia where he then lived worked hard to pull him through that health crisis. He recovered enough to walk normally, but arthritis in one form or another was an ailment from which he never fully recovered for the remainder of his life to age 85 when he died on January 26, 2011 at Georgia War Veterans Home.
RSP3 Grover Jones was one of “The Greatest Generation,” that lofty, patriotic, brave group of servicemen whose love for God and country stand out as exemplary in the annals of our nation’s history.
c 2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 10, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.