In the summer of 1945, what most Americans on duty in the Pacific dreaded was the upcoming invasion of Japan. The atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki canceled that operation when the Japanese quickly surrendered. There was initial suspicion in some quarters that the surrender was a trick; Marines waited two weeks after VJ Day before actually landing. But when American occupiers saw the devastation that bombing had caused and were greeted by deferential Japanese civilians, the knowledge that the war was finally over could sink in.

Featured Story: Raymond Brittain

Photograph of Raymond Brittain

"We were in Manila Bay, and that entire bay was completely full of sunken Japanese ships."

(Audio Interview, Part 2, 14:45)

“Serving for the duration” perfectly describes Raymond Brittain’s World War II experience. Already in the Navy for 15 months when his ship was attacked in Pearl Harbor (he provides a riveting eyewitness account of December 7th), he saw subsequent action in the Aleutians and on Tarawa. After retraining in the U.S. to become a Fire Controlman, he was on his way back to the front when the war concluded. But his ship continued onward, to Japan for repairs, allowing Brittain a closeup look at postwar devastation.