V-J Day Memories: Where Were You When…?
Gazette Article by: Jane Lord
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1995
As the 50th anniversary of V-J Day approaches, some Winnetka residents recall their wartime experiences and where they were on August 14, 1945.
Bob Woolson was stationed on Guam as a 1st lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. He was actually piloting a B-29 Superfortress on his 23rd mission when he received the call to abort and return to base. He remembers, “The Japanese agreed to call it quits, and the shooting was over!”
Mrs. David Bridewell was a Red Cross worker assigned to the 27th Station Hospital on Okinawa. She remembers the concern about an imminent typhoon and that the hospital was especially busy treating newly released prisoners of war who had arrived from the Philippines.
Stewart Carlson, a Marine Corps captain based on Saipan, was to lead his company in a September landing on an island off the coast of Japan. He had recently returned from the Okinawa operation, which was a 90-day struggle. “Our response to the surprise announcement that the Japanese had sued for peace was immediate,” he recalled. “It was like winning the big game 40 to 0. Our possible death sentence had been commuted and we were to be set free.”
Philip H. Schaff, a captain in the Army Air Corps, flew a Lockheed P-38 Lightning on photo reconnaissance missions from a remote base located more than 600 miles inside China. He contrasts today’s sophisticated communications to those of 1945. Then news trickled in via a single source, Air Force Radio, so word of the Japanese surrender did not reach his base immediately.
Winnetka architect Herman Lackner was a carpenter’s mate, first class in the Seabees stationed at Samar in the Philippines. He remembers that the movie shown on base that memorable August day was interrupted three times—first by an air raid alert, then a typhoon warning, and finally by news of Japan’s capitulation.
At the time of V-J Day, Everett Weaver was a lieutenant on the submarine Macabi lying off Truk, a Japanese island base in the South pacific. His fleet rescued aviators shot down during bombing raids, one of whom was George Bush. After the news of the Japanese surrender, the sub was ordered back to Pearl Harbor immediately. Even though it was against orders, some officers had smuggled whiskey aboard; so they had what Weaver calls “two-thirds of a party.” One third of the crew were at their stations, and the other two shifts enjoyed a “happy hour.”
Mrs. John Lawlor, a lieutenant of the Women’s Army Corps (WACS) stationed in Berlin, remembers the general feeling of joy when the news was received because many service personnel were dreading transfer to the Pacific after fighting the war in the European theater.
Everett Allen, a captain with U.S. Special Forces, saw much action in Europe, parachuting behind enemy lines with the Jedburghs, an international special forces team. By the summer of 1945 Allen was in the Chinese theater of operations. On V-J Day he was on leave in Calcutta, where an unusual incident made an indelible impression of the celebration. Ecstatic about the war’s end, an intoxicated officer of the British Cold Stream Guards entered Allen’s restaurant on horseback. He rode up a long flight of more than 60 carpeted stairs, and swept through the entire room—knocking the glasses off every table in his path—to the laughter and cheers of everyone present!