Almost Sixty years after he bombed a city in japan at the very end of World War II, a US pilot meets one of those who lived through the horror on the ground.
The year was 1945, August 15, Vivian lock, A US pilot in his B-29 Plane, saw nothing but darkness below, Then Just before 1.00 AM, he saw something glittering on the Ground. The 25 year old pilot knew this was his target, the city of kumagaya, already in flames.
One evening, in the year 2004, 69 year old KENJIRO ARAI sat at his computer and typed into an internet search engine: "Kumagaya Raid" He was just 11 year old when his city, Kumagaya was burnt down to ashes. He found a website devoted to the US air force's 330th bomb group,
which included the squadron that had attacked kumagaya. He sent a email to the website, "While you guys were in the air, i was on the ground in the city of kumagaya, one of the last cities destroyed in
World war II "
Arai was not angry at the american soldiers, but he wanted to know more about the kumagaya raids from an american perspective.
Soon, Arai recieved an email from Lock, Now 87, "No apologies, but i have always regretted all the innocent people killed and injured during that war, i would greatly appreciate hearing from you".
And so began their unusual correspondence. Arai was a retired engineer & Lock had worked for years as a Air force safety officer. over time, their emails became friendlier. The 2 men began to think about meeting in person, it was decided that Arai would travel to Lock's Hometown in
US on July 25, 2007.
The day they were supposed to meet arrived and Lock was excited about the meeting, but could not block one niggling thought: "AM I THE VILLIAN?" Lock, was a a decorated war hero. he had never expected to get an email from a man whose hometown he had bombed.
Arriving early at the hotel restaurant where he had arranged to meet arai, Lock positioned himself in the lobby so he could watch the door. at last, a japanese man arrived and searched the room with his eyes.
Lock leaned on his cane, "Ken, is that you?", he asked. "Viv?" replied arai.
After they shook hands, Lock was trembling, He looked at this 73 year old man and saw the 11 year old boy who had fled through the fiery streets of kumagaya. Ken, he said, "Iam so glad you survived." They sat at a table to plan their visit. their conversation was easy, full
of laughter.They shared thier memories of that night into a story.
While Lock's B-29 was lumbering down the runway on Guam, the arai family was preparing Dinner in kumagaya. Kenjiro who was 11 year then, watched his mother slice homemade wheat noodles. he noticed tears running down her face, "What happened Mom?" he asked. confused. "I
heard the emperor will surrender", she replied. Arai was shocked. in school, he had been taught to worship emperor as a divine and infallible ruler.
While arai slept, american bombers flew across the pacific ocean. throughout the seven hour flight from guam to japan, Lock was unware of Japan's surrender. As he was flying towards kumagaya, the japanese government issued its surrender. the official dispatch was cabled to the neutral country of switzerland, then to Washington, too late to recall the kumagaya mission. As lock approached kumagaya, his bomber sited a neighbourhood that was not yet in flames & he & his group of
81 pilots released bombs on the city of kumagaya.
Arai woke to his father shouting "Get up, air raid". in a daze, arai grabbed his schoolbag and ran out with his father, mother, grand mother and 3 brothers, as planes roared overhead and bombs rashed all around. Arai & his family zig zagged down the burning streets, trying to avoid the falling bombs. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they could see their city burning.
Soon after Lock touched down, he learned that President Truman had accepted Japan's unconditional Surrender. The war was over.
later that evening in lock's living room, the two men shared other aspects of their lives. they spoke of their children, countries they had visited, lives they had lived.
The next day, arai stopped by lock's home for a final visit. sitting in his living room, lock told arai, iam so glad no one in your family was killed. but lots of other people were, i have to take some
responsiblity for that. it was not your fault, arai said. i was up there in that plane, i feel bad for what happened on the ground, especially to people who were innocent.
0 blog comments below