The Last Mission
An eyewitness account by
Jim B. Smith
One hundred thirty two B-29s attached to the 315th Bomb Wing (very heavy), flew the last mission of WWII August 14/15—6 days after Nagasaki was struck by the second atomic bomb. This last raid took out 67% of Japan's remaining Inner Zone oil refining and by a bizarre twist of fate, foiled a military revolt whose intent was to kidnap the Emperor and keep the war going. The last mission placed the seal on the end of WW II. This story is an eyewitness account and features The Boomerang and crew
The author, Jim B. Smith, was the radio operator on this 10-man crew attached to the 315th
Bomb Wing. Smith had been a flying cadet and was caught up in the pilot
surplus washout. He was reassigned as a B-29 radio operator. The crew
represented 8 different States: Airplane Commander Carl Schahrer, Bakersfield,
President Truman's comment after the atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima
and Nagasaki and Japan agreed to surrender on August 15th, 1945. "There
will be no more atomic weapons used on Japan unless there is a "hitch"
in the peace process. If that should happen other atomic bombs would be
dropped beginning on the first clear day after August 17."
Even after the Emperor had asked his War Cabinet for surrender, the No Surrender mentality of the Japanese placed peace squarely on the Razor's edge.
Military authorities say that any continuation of war would have meant a yard by yard, place by place fighting that would have incurred human losses never before seen. Moreover Russia, who entered the war after Nagasaki was bombed, would have been a full partner.
Experts believe that post-war Japan would have been divided up like Germany, and communism could have easily engulfed a defeated Japan. It was The Last Mission flown 6 days after Nagasaki that rang down the final curtain on WWII!
Letter from Hank
It's hard to believe but it's been 52 years since we flew the mission that ended WWII. It's amazing to me that the world still believes the atomic bombs closed out the war, even though as you pointed out in your book, it was our last mission August 14/15, 1945 that really ended the war. You explained that the last mission was not declassified until 1985. That document revealed that 779 B-29s bombed Japanese Empire targets beginning August 13, four days after the United States had dropped the last atomic bomb on Nagasaki. We of the 315th bomb Wing flew the last and longest mission from our base at Northwest Field, Guam to the Nippon Oil Refineries northwest of Tokyo. That would have been 6 days after Nagasaki.
Our airplane, The Boomerang, was the most faithful mechanical friend we
could ever imagine—taking us safely through a dozen missions and then
flying us on the last mission that covered nearly 4000 miles. The fact
we flew at night and over water always pushed our normal anxieties ever
higher. This unexpected last mission was particularly nerve wracking.
We thought we had won the war, and then we were ordered back on the playing
field to win it again.
As you know we thought the war was over after Nagasaki and we were in
the middle of a going-home party when orders came down to fly one more
mission. It would be the longest continuous bombing mission ever attempted.
As you recall, no one wanted to fly, but we were eager to get the war
All the anxieties lifted from our shoulders after peace was announced,
and most of us rushed back to civilian life. Many of us wanted to share
our experiences and many of us wanted to tuck away the trauma of it all.
On to the last page The Last Mission and The Dream