Flash back to Anzio
In the early part of my story I told about Lt. Rifkin back on Anzio. He asked me to set up a flare which would simulate a bouncing Betty anti-Personnel mine. He backed over the trip wires. The flare went up ripping his left arm open. It’s a good thing he didn’t straddle it! This was the first time I realized that Lt Rifkin didn’t get a Million dollar wound. I thought he had been shipped home. We didn’t bring up the subject. Maybe he forgot me. I couldn’t forget him! He was now in charge of “Special services”
NEW DIVISION PATCH
. The Third Division now transferred into the 70th Division. It was one of the divisions most likely destined to hit the beaches of Japan. My new APO was Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 276th Infantry, APO 461. New York, NY.
The beaches of Japan! We thought of it constantly. Worried is more of an accurate term.
I was wondering what I’d do when I returned to my home. I wondered if I would have the guts to allow myself to be sacrificed on Japanese soil. I actually had a notion to ‘head for the hills’ behind our farm if I ever got back–could I ever have been a deserter? It was really a difficult decision to make. We all knew that Japan was a formidable ruthless enemy. Every able bodied Japanese would rather die than be conquered. They’d fight to the last man. We could picture ourselves slaughtered on the sandy beaches of some Japanese port. They’ll never give up. We felt as if they were animals.
One day, the top Sergeant called me to his ‘office’ for some sort of duty. The Sergeant asked, “Mohar, when do you think the war with Japan will be over?” I thought for more than a couple of seconds and answered, “I think probably it will last until this time next year”. The date at this time in Wetzlar was between July 27th and August 13th of 1945. Then the Top Sergeant handed me a copy of the “Stars and Stripes” on which were the headlines: “US drops ATOMIC Bomb on Japan”.
The sergeant added,” I say, it’ll be over in a week!” I was in disbelief and answered, “Aw go on! What the hell’s an atomic bomb?
To which he answered, “It’s some kind of ‘secret weapon'”. “Atomic Bomb”, I asked him in great doubt, “a secret weapon?”–“we’ve heard a lot about secret weapons, remember the secret on Anzio? The little radio controlled tank loaded with TNT?” I couldn’t pronounce the word correctly! A-t-o-mik. President Harry Truman ordered the second bomb dropped. The top sergeant was right on the money with his prediction. BUT I don’t remember a single celebration. Not even a cowboy “YIPPEE”! I wonder why? Maybe we were skeptical. Yogi Berra hadn’t yet made his famous quote of “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”.
We were being treated well and fed as much as we could eat. I got a shoulder and butt full of ‘shots’. I was ill for several days while the medication dissipated somehow in my system. At times we were able to see movies in a small theater in Wetzlar. It was not far from the film shop I was managing. While we were milling around looking for a good seat, I heard someone yell my name “MOHAR”! at the top of his voice. I looked around and would you guess that it was Bill Beardsley the corporal from the training battalion in Camp Roberts. It was a pleasant surprise. We immediately started singing! “See them tumbling down”!
Another GI name DAY heard us singing and by golly we had a trio again. We stayed as close to each other as we could for the rest of the way home to Camp KILMER in New Jersey. Poor Day, just before coming home he got a Dear John letter! His wife wanted a divorce.