Monday, November 28, 2022 Nov 28, 2022
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THE LAST BOMBS OF WORLD WAR II

By Tom Dodge |

YESTERDAY For semi-retired Dallas attorney JOHN F. TOWNSEND, 69, there’s a special significance in the 45th anniversary of the end of World War II this month.

He ended it.

As a first lieutenant and navigator of the 394th Bomber Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Townsend and his crew dropped the final bombs of the war on September 3, 1945.

The Japanese actually had stopped fighting on August 14, but the formal peace treaty was set to be signed the morning of the 3rd aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. So, as Townsend’s group of four B-24s took off from the Philippines with orders to bomb a railroad depot on the island of Formosa, their radios were linked directly to the White House. If the word came before they reached their target, they were to jettison their bombs into the ocean and return to base.

As the B-24s neared Formosa, they had heard nothing from Washington. Townsend’s plane bypassed the target in order to photograph the other planes dropping their historic bombs. That done, they circled around awaiting word.

But no sounds of peace came from Washington, So, flying through heavy Japanese ack-ack, they returned to the target and dropped their bombs on a supply train pulling into the station. Just after the final bomb had cleared the bay, at about two minutes before nine, President Harry Truman’s voice crackled over the radio: “Gentlemen, jettison your bombs and come on home. The war is over. Thank you!”