62 years ago, on August 9th, 1945, the second of the only two atomic bombs (a plutonium bomb) ever used as instruments of aggressive war (against essentially defenseless civilian populations) was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, by an all-Christian bomb crew. The well-trained American soldiers were only “doing their job,” and they did it efficiently.
It had been only 3 days since the first bomb, a uranium bomb, had decimated Hiroshima on August 6, with chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government and the Emperor had been searching for months for a way to an honorable end of the war which had exhausted the Japanese to virtually moribund status. (The only obstacle to surrender had been the Truman administration’s insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan – an intolerable demand for the Japanese.)
The Russian army was advancing across Manchuria with the stated aim of entering the war against Japan on August 8, so there was an extra incentive to end the war quickly: the US military command did not want to divide any spoils or share power after Japan sued for peace.
The US bomber command had spared Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura from the conventional bombing that had burned to the ground 60+ other major Japanese cities during the first half of 1945. One of the reasons for targeting relatively undamaged cities with these new weapons of mass destruction was scientific: to see what would happen to intact buildings – and their living inhabitants – when atomic weapons were exploded overhead.
Early in the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress called Bock’s Car, took off from Tinian Island, with the prayers and blessings of its Lutheran and Catholic chaplains, and headed for Kokura, the primary target. (Its bomb was code-named “Fat Man,” after Winston Churchill.)