The pilot who had dropped the bomb told reporters upon returning to the American air force base that he had seen the city disappear in a sea of fire and smoke underneath him. Paul Tibbets was one of only three men on board who knew what their explosive Little Boy was capable of.
“We dropped the bomb and turned around to get the best view possible. But we made sure to create the biggest distance possible between us and the great ball of fire”, is what Tibbets said. “Even though we were wearing protective goggles we could still see the explosion. Then when the shockwave hit us it felt as if we were getting shot at.”
Tibbets, who passed away in 2007 aged 92, would never regret his part in the destruction. A necessary evil he called it. “Thousands of soldiers have told me that they would not have survived the war of they would have had to invade Japan”, he said in 2005. “I sleep fine every night.”
Tsutomu Yamaguchi would his entire life be haunted by what he went through in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
. Together with two colleagues he had arrived home exactly in time to experience the second nuclear bomb there. His mother did not recognize him trough his bandages and severe burns. “Show your feet!”, is what she demanded, because ghosts do not have feet in Japan.
Yamaguchi was talking to his boss the moment the second bomb exploded; his boss did not believe a single bomb could have caused so much damage in Hiroshima. “Then at 11:02 I saw a bright flash. The same one that I had seen in Hiroshima. I really believed I was a dead man walking”, he said. “The bandages that I was wearing, that were difficult to remove, were blown from my body.”
Yamaguchi survived together with his wife and child. But his home was destroyed and for a week he floated between life and death. “Due to the infections my body was invested with maggots. Children later on told me that chickens had pecked them from my body. I never felt a thing, but I did see the scars that they left behind.”
The double doses of radiation would cause Yamaguchi to get leukemia. But he survived until 2010, when he died aged 93. All his life he campagined against atomic warfare. “Countries that hold nuclear weapons should only be ruled by mothers with newborns.”