75 years later, a GI’s reflections on WWII still resonate

Seventy-five years ago, on September 2, 1945, World War II officially ended with the signing of the terms of peace between the Allies and the Empire of Japan. Here’s what one G.I., my father, who was flying overhead, wrote home about that day:


Wednesday, Sept. 5

Dear Mother and Dad:

Last Sunday, I had a ringside seat to a great historical event. I was riding in the nose of a B-29 over Tokyo at 2,000 feet during the surrender ceremonies. I got a very close look at the destruction we did in Tokyo and Yokohama, and a good look at the Japanese countryside.

The devastation in the Tokyo area was pretty awesome. There are great brown patches in the town where everything was burnt right to the ground. Better than half the city is utterly destroyed.There were about 500 B-29s in the area that morning. We were there to impress the Japanese with the completeness of their defeat. We flew around and around the area in a 10-ship formation. It was magnificent to see all the American and British warships in Tokyo Bay. We spotted the battleship Missouri and could see some of the sailors in white lined up during the surrender proceedings. There were many American transports there, too, and we could see American troops going ashore. I tell you, it was wonderful flying around taking in all of the sights. I was surprised to see the large number of good highways and bridges, railways and tunnels and modern buildings.

All the time, while flying around, I kept thinking of the uselessness of war when all people are really just interested in the same things – survival and happiness. I want to get home very bad, and think about it all the time. But I’m trying to be patient, and I believe I’ll be home in a very few weeks.

Love to all,


Tim Troll’s father Ray Troll passed away in 2001. He served with the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II.

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