Ken Beaton: Trio in Carson recall jubilant V-J Day, 68 years ago
At 7 p.m. EDST on Aug. 14, 1945, President Truman announced Japan’s unconditional surrender on national radio. Everything stopped! Spontaneously, people ran outside to join friends and soon-to-be friends and celebrated the end of World War II. Three Carson City residents shared their experience.
Staff Sgt. Phyllis L. Anker (Bendure) was one of many WACs assigned to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall in the Pentagon. Two days after V-J Day, Sgt. Anker obtained a three-day pass. She and a co-worker took a train to New York City. They stayed at the New Yorker Hotel, a 10-minute walk from Times Square.
As a third-generation from Lovelock, Phyllis experienced the ear-deafening cheering from the mass of humanity still celebrating in Times Square with bright lights and the moving-headline sign proclaiming the end of the war. She and her roommate tightly held hands so they would not be separated.
When they returned to their room at The New Yorker Hotel, Phyllis had time to reflect on all her friends from the University of Nevada who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Phyllis is 94 years young.
Carson City resident Roland Peachee is a Pearl Harbor survivor and was honorably discharged shortly before the end of the WWII. As a meat cutter in the Navy for seven years, he was hired to use his skills in a Susanville, Calif., meat market.
Everyone in Susanville worked at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, Calif. After President Truman’s long-anticipated announcement, Roland had an anticlimactic experience. Because everyone was working in Herlong, there was nobody in the streets to celebrate with him. Roland is 97 years young.
The late Bob Thomas was a USAAF air cadet at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. On Aug. 12, 1945, the base began receiving detailed reports about the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The 70,000 USAAF personnel at the base knew an announcement was imminent.
Because Bob was a talented musician, his squadron commander allowed him to recruit 18 big-band jazz musicians for special services. Every Sunday his band played on CBS Radio for two hours, and it played at Sheppard Field three nights a week.
When Bob heard President Truman’s announcement, he recruited the driver of large flatbed truck capable of hauling a D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer. His band sat in chairs with music stands and a sound system on the flatbed. They played all the favorite hits for several hours while slowly being driven around the base. Because it was a dry county in Texas, nobody was drunk. Bob passed away Saturday at age 87; his obituary is on Page A7 today.
Today is V-J Day or Victory in the Pacific Day because it was Aug. 15 in Japan when the emperor there announced surrender, and because 405,000 Americans died and millions were physically or mentally wounded during the war. There are 16 million reasons why you are reading the Appeal in English, not German or Japanese. Process that sentence and thank a vet by going to http://www.honorflightnv.org and making a donation.
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.