Deliverance: The Atomic Bomb and the 10th Mountain Division
By James Stark
Ed was firmly entrenched within the fortifications he had constructed just hours earlier. Awaiting an enemy action, he peered out into the darkness prepared for the worst. As tensions mounted in his mind over the fight that loomed ahead, Ed’s wife awoke and realized that he was no longer in bed. After a frantic search, she discovered his fortifications in the front yard of their suburban home. Ed was suffering a flashback of his combat experience with the 10th Mountain Division during the Second World War, and his wife was terrified. After years of working with a behavioral therapist, Ed was able to talk about some of the experiences the war had emblazoned on his brain, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ed’s flashbacks reveal a dark recollection of the horrors of war that many men returning from World War II were loath to discuss with anyone.
Ed’s traumatic combat experience had come as a soldier in the 10th Mountain Division, which was founded the day after the United States entered World War II in 1941. The leader of the National Ski Patrol lobbied U.S. Army chief of staff, George C. Marshall, to create a division of the U.S. Army that would be proficient in mountaineering. After completion of their training high in the mountains near Leadville, Colorado, the 10th Mountain Division was sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) to engage Nazi Germany in control of a defensive position in the Apennine Mountains of Italy known as the Gothic Line. With the Germans considering that it was impenetrable, the Gothic Line was one of the strongholds that the 10th Mountain Division was created to surmount. It proved to be a costly campaign in terms of casualties. War in Europe devastated American military forces, which struggled to advance against the tenacious German Army (Wehrmacht). Allied troops, including the men of the 10th Mountain Division, were exhausted at the end of the war in Europe. They deserved respite, but combat against the Japanese loomed. The U.S. Army ordered the 10th Mountain Division to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) to invade Hokkaido, one of the Japanese home islands along with Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. On their way to refit for invasion, something quite unexpected happened—the United States Army Air Forces dropped the first atomic bomb (“Little Boy”) on Hiroshima. The decision had come from the top: Harry S. Truman, President of the United States. When Japan surrendered almost four weeks later, the 10th Mountain Division returned home. This paper tells of the relationship between that atomic attack and the experiences of the 10th Mountain Division.
Historians who have considered the use of the atomic bomb against Japan have usually focused their consideration on leadership to understand why the United States deployed such a terrible weapon against the civilians and soldiers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As recently as 1995, Gar Alperovitz argued that the use of the bomb against Japan was not necessary to save the lives of American soldiers because Japan was already a defeated nation. He claimed that Truman and his advisors were more concerned with intimidating Premier Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union with U.S. nuclear hegemony following the end of the War. In contrast, J. Samuel Walker concluded that atomic bombs were employed to bring about a speedy end to the war, although the Allies could have achieved victory through conventional bombing and blockade. While there is merit to this position, Michael Korthas countered that Walker could provide no timeline for a Japanese surrender under conditions of siege, and that any delay to the end of the war would have killed hundreds of thousands from disease, starvation, and exposure. James Robert Maddox argued in 2004 that the bomb’s use was Truman’s best option to avoid incurring heavy American casualties in an invasion of the Japanese archipelago. Similarly, Richard Frank, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, and Sadao Asado have all agreed that Japan was actually not on the point of surrender. Moreover, in 2017, D.M. Giangreco rebutted the contention of the likelihood of atomic diplomacy, citing evidence of American and Soviet cooperation against Japan at the end of World War II.
Most of the scholarship on the decision to drop the atomic bomb has focused on top levels of civilian and military leadership in both Washington and Tokyo. This paper adds to the discussion by including voices from ordinary soldiers. There has been little substantive scholarship regarding the 10th Mountain Division’s relevance to this debate despite the fact that it was tasked to spearhead the planned invasion of Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Honshu in the Japanese archipelago.
Examining postwar interviews and documents reveals that the men of the 10th Mountain Division supported the use of atomic bombs against Japan. They were ordered to invade the Japanese home islands, but to successfully defeat the Japanese, the men would need to fight at an extreme level, both physically and mentally, which was nearly impossible given their exhausted condition at the conclusion of the War in Europe. The Empire of Japan had millions of combat-hardened soldiers, who were well-armed and well-entrenched behind hardened fortifications and prepared to die in defense of their Emperor. Looking at the use of the atomic bombs from the perspective of the soldiers and through the accounts of the men of the 10th provides another view of the atomic blasts that were targeted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This neglected perspective reveals how physically damaging the war had been on the men of the 10th and that they needed time to heal before being thrown into another theater of war in East Asia. Evidence substantiates how injurious the war had been to the men psychologically by considering their outlook on combat and the trepidation and depression sweeping through the ranks. Examining the two theaters of war from the soldiers’ perspective provides for a better understanding of why these soldiers supported deploying an atomic weapon against Japan.
A Division Born in the Mountains
The 10th Mountain Division was the brainchild of Charles Minot Dole or “Minnie” as he was commonly known. As the president of the National Ski Patrol, Dole observed that if Americans were going to be successful in their prosecution of World War II overseas or should it ever come to defending the mountainous territory of the northeastern United States, they needed to have a mountain division. One need only look at the Russo-Finnish war of 1939-40 to see how a well-trained mountain division could inflict significantly more damage than a traditional ground army division. The Russians invaded Finland in 1939 with nearly a million soldiers, but due to their deftness in mountain warfare, the Finns fought the Russians to a standstill with only 150,000 men until the Red Army overwhelmed them by sheer numbers. In fact, the United States would have been a solitary country fighting the war without a mountain division. With that understanding, Dole began writing letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. It was Marshall whom he convinced that the Army needed a division that could be trained in the particular skills required to fight in the mountains, which included mountaineering, skiing, and outdoor survival techniques. Marshall stipulated that the division would have to be a volunteer unit recruited by the National Ski Patrol (NSP)—a civilian organization. In recruiting the 10th Mountain Division, the NSP selected a diverse group representing a cross section of men who were sui generis in the armed forces. These men came from across the country and from disparate walks of life. Some, like the Dartmouth Ski Team with their coach, came with an Ivy League education and existing skills in skiing. In addition, the 10th Mountain Division recruited some adept European immigrants with skiing backgrounds who had recently come to the United States Other volunteers came from the mountains of the western United States—like Robert Vigil who had grown up ranching in mountainous terrain of New Mexico.
The Division would be trained for fighting in the European Theater as soon as possible. Yet by their unique training, the 10th Mountain Division would potentially become the ideal cohort to invade the mountainous Japanese home islands.
The Damage Begins
This Division did not undergo standard boot camp Army training but rather a strenuous high-altitude conditioning in extremely cold temperatures. The Army utilized revolutionary equipment developed by private industry which was tested simultaneously with the training of these men. An example is the mummy sleeping bag, which originated in cooperation between the Sierra Club and the Army’s equipment supplier. The men of the 10th conducted drills in subzero temperatures for weeks at a time. Serving in the 86th regiment of the 10th Mountain Division, Charles Hunt recalled that “in the winter, it was a regular thing for the temperature to drop 10 to 30 degrees below zero.” This rigorous preparation was only the first of many hardships that the men of the 10th Mountain Division would count themselves fortunate to survive, revealing the tremendous strain of combat training.
The discipline instilled into the men of the 10th at Camp Hale in Pando, Colorado was the most stringent in the Army. Not only did they find themselves in extreme conditions at the high-altitude camp, but they did so as experimental participants. The idea of a mountain division was new to the Army; it had to develop the training, equipment, and doctrine as it went along. As a result, the men often suffered because of failures in these areas. For example, the 10th Mountain Division conducted six weeks of field exercises in the spring of 1944 called the “D-Series” maneuvers. The “D” in the “D-Series” maneuvers stood for Division and meant that the entire Division took part in the exercises. Fifteen thousand men participated in war games. They ate and slept outside in the snow and frigid temperatures for six weeks. These conditions were the most extreme of any training maneuvers performed by the U.S. Armed Forces. On one night alone, a hundred men were evacuated with frostbite as temperatures dipped as low as 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Men suffered from high-altitude sickness, ski related fractures, frostbite, and worse. In fact, the training endured by the 10th Mountain Division in Colorado produced the largest percentage of casualties of any military training camp in the country, with one of the maneuvers reaching staggeringly high casualties of 30 percent. Harvey Wieprecht described how he chose to take guard duty all night when the temperature dropped to 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, for fear of freezing to death in his sleep. He remembered many men leaving the Division with the serious injury of frozen lungs during the “D-Series” maneuvers. Physical demands were already attriting many of the men in the 10th Mountain Division, and it was only the first training phase of their Second World War experience.
If the rigors of preparation at Camp Hale had not been enough, General Ridgely Gaither in Washington decided that when soldiers were finished with their mountain training, the 10th Mountain Division should go through the normal Army boot camp to prepare for non-mountain combat. With this additional requirement, the soldiers of the 10th were mustered, stripped of their mountain equipment, and shipped by rail to the hot and humid environs of Camp Swift, Texas. At Camp Swift, the men were issued new equipment and began their flat land military training with new instructors, unfamiliar barracks, different uniforms, and a dissimilar climate. Moving from the cold mountain temperatures of Camp Hale, Colorado proved to be an extremely challenging adjustment. The men performed 25-mile marches with equipment to acclimatize for low altitude combat readiness. Hunt recalled that it was not unusual for the temperature to range between 105- and 110-degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity and an abundance of insects. After six months the physical demands and mental strain of combat preparation at Camp Swift had exhausted the Division and brought low the esprit de corps.
Morale ebbed throughout the ranks. One of the Division’s experienced mountaineers, James A. Goodwin, said, “Frankly, I was terribly depressed during my basic training. I was so miserable as a matter of fact that I eventually volunteered to be a janitor for the barracks.” Harvey Wieprecht and Floyd Erickson echoed Goodwin’s sentiments, stating that morale was low for the entire Division following the training that they had performed at Camps Hale and Swift. The Army was acutely aware of the link between low morale and higher rates of PTSD and attempted to mitigate the damage. Officers at Camp Hale designed exercises to boost the men’s morale and went so far as to define morale for the men as “the confidence of each man in himself, his equipment, and his fellow soldiers.” The War Department went even further, assigning a highly credentialed neuropsychiatrist to the 10th Mountain Division in the person of Major Lewis Thorne. Thorne had concurred that neuropsychiatric casualties from PTSD were much lower in military units where the morale was high.
Theoretically, strenuous, and prolonged training was required to give soldiers the ability to kill in a multiplicity of circumstances, but training had its price. Hew Strachan has noted that one of the main functions of training is to prepare soldiers for war by hardening them and that the process by which this is done is at cross purposes from the civilian society from which those soldiers are drawn. In other words, the Army used training to break down the men’s humanity to the point where they could kill with consummate efficiency and win the war for the sake of a free society. Yet the long-term consequences from the severe training were complicit in the onset of PTSD as exemplified by Ed. The 10th Mountain Division was not made up of ace soldiers, yet they were trained to kill as if they were elite irregulars, and the consequences of that incongruity had detrimental effects upon the men’s psychological conditions.
Into the War
After a grueling trip across the Atlantic Ocean in which the men endured extremely cramped quarters and rough seas, the 10th Mountain Division arrived in Naples, Italy and began preparing for combat. The first assignment was prohibitively difficult and had been attempted previously by elements of General Mark Clark’s 5th Army three times without success. The order was to attack and capture Mount Belvedere and then capture all the high ground to a position east of Tole, Italy. This stronghold was held by elite alpine divisions of the German Army, whose troops were combat veterans. The 10th Mountain Division, in contrast, had a paucity of combat experience. When General Lucian Truscott asked the commander of the 10th Mountain Division if he thought that he could carry out the order, General George Hays replied, “I don’t know, but if we do, I don’t think that I will have any Division left.” Hays devised a daring plan that would require four separate companies of men to climb approximately 2,000 feet of sheer mountain cliffs without being detected, move behind the enemy positions on the ridge, and occupy the high ground in preparation for a dawn attack. The cliffs the men had to ascend were so difficult that even after a week of scouting by some of the world’s best climbers, no passable route was found. This prompted Hays to remark, “Now this is a Mountain Division, trained in the Rocky Mountains; surely they can find how to climb up that Ridge.” After another week of scouting, this elite team of climbers came up with four routes, but they could only be climbed if the men remained undetected by the enemy. The climb would have to be done silently at night.
Andres Vigil, a Hispanic communications specialist assigned to make the climb up that Ridge on the night of February 18, 1945, described how it had to be done. It was a technical climb made with ropes, and to secure the ropes to the mountain, pitons were driven into the rock using gloves between the hammer and anchor to muffle noise. In this manner, 800 men from four companies stealthily night-climbed and successfully sneaked past the German positions to the high ground above the cliffs. Vigil recalled how a German truck had surprised the group in the middle of the climb, and one of the climbers dived off the rock and onto the truck driver to keep the Division from being detected by the Germans. Vigil explained that German prisoners captured during the night climb had to be sent with Division escorts back down the mountain to headquarters without alerting the German forces. With the high ground held by the Americans, the attack began at dawn and the 10th captured the heights above Mount Belvedere known as Riva Ridge. The Germans launched multiple counter attacks to try and regain the vital ground that they had thought was unclimbable, but the four companies held their positions, allowing the attack on Mount Belvedere and Mount Moska to move ahead as planned. The men of the 10th Mountain Division were successful in their objectives, but they also sustained heavy casualties: 192 killed in action, 730 wounded, and one prisoner of war. The loss of their comrades weighed heavily on those who survived.
In his work on the effects of combat on veterans, psychiatrist Larry Dewey discussed the effects of losing comrades in battle. He noted that psychiatrists looking at the 8th Air Force in World War II showed that 95 percent of the men who had completed their missions between 1942-43 exhibited the same symptoms as those men who were treated for acute PTSD. When looking at possible triggers for the onset of PTSD, Dewey observed that the death of a friend or family member often caused pain “too much like that previous horrible pain of losing beloved comrades in battle.” When the men of the 10th lost their beloved comrades during their first combat action, they suffered psychological damage, affecting their future functionality. Dewey observed this first-hand with his patient Ed who had fought in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. Nevertheless, at that point in the war, there was no alternative for the men but to keep fighting.
A deeper look into Ed’s combat experience reveals the sort of psychological trauma that often results due to PTSD. As a highly trained scout sniper in the 10th Mountain Division, Ed would go ahead of his regiment and perform reconnaissance missions. On one of these missions, he came upon an American soldier who had been disemboweled and left for dead. The injured soldier pleaded with Ed to kill him out of mercy. Ed placed his hand over the suffering soldier’s nose and mouth until he died. Sometime later, Ed was captured by two German soldiers and taken back to a woodshed behind enemy lines. In fear for his life and convinced that he was about to be tortured by the two men, Ed saw an opportunity when one of the soldiers left to attend to something else. Alone with the other soldier, Ed spied an ax, seized it, and before the German could defend himself, drove the ax into the head of his captor. When the second soldier returned, Ed attacked him with the ax in a gruesome fight that left Ed traumatized. Horrific events like those in Ed’s combat experience were widespread in the 10th Mountain Division’s campaign to capture Italy and win the war in Europe. Although physically capable of fighting in the war in Europe, Ed was injured psychologically and suffered from his injuries for the next forty years.
A Costly Campaign
The 10th Mountain Division pressed on with its mission. The German Army had set up its defense in the Italian Apennine Mountains to protect the strategically important Po River Valley. In defending this valley, the Third Reich was attempting to preserve the ability to keep its soldiers fed. Presumably the sooner the 10th Mountain Division could take that valley, the sooner the war could end. General Hays knew that keeping the Germans off balance with a continued drive into the mountains was the only way to keep the casualties in his Division tolerably low; therefore, he requested permission to keep his men advancing against the Germans. The General Staff denied his requests until the rest of the 5th Army could catch up and move into position, forming a continuous line of attack with the 10th Mountain Division. To Hays’ dismay, it took more than a month for the rest of the 5th Army to form up on the line and continue the attack. This delay provided the Wehrmacht the time it needed to move the 334th Infantry Division into a well-fortified position, complete with artillery support and the 94th Division in reserve. Surprise had been lost, for the Germans knew precisely where the 10th Mountain Division would attack. Nevertheless, Hays began the attack at 0945 (9:45 A.M.) the morning of April 14, 1945, with a feint to the north to keep the enemy soldiers off balance and prevent them from launching a counterattack into his Division’s flank. Despite the 10th Mountaineers’ best efforts, the entrenched German troops had the advantage. There was nothing the men of the 10th Mountain Division could do but press on into the melee and drive the Germans out of their defenses. It took seven days of some of the war’s hardest fighting to drive the Germans out of the Apennines. It cost the 10th Mountain Division 1,500 casualties.
Outpacing the rest of the Allied forces in Italy, Hays’ mountain troops wasted no time in confronting the enemy where they could be found. Hurrying through the northern Apennines toward Lake Garda, Hays determined that the 10th Mountain Division would press the fight before the enemy had time to reorganize their position. When the Division reached the Po River, instead of waiting for the 5th Army Engineers to construct a bridge to cross it, the American general sent his men over in small boats before the Germans could position troops to oppose them. Not only did the 10th Mountaineers cross the river without heavy casualties, but they also forced the surrender of over 500 German soldiers. In another engagement, the 10th Mountain Division was pinned down in a series of tunnels that went through the mountains around Lake Garda. Instead of sending his Division over the mountains, Hays ordered his artillery to be loaded with white phosphorous and fired on the German positions, so that his men could keep the attack moving. Hays and the 10thMountain Division aided the 5th Army in the long hard slog of the Italian campaign, never once relinquishing the territory that they had captured. The price of that success was extraordinarily high, with approximately a third of the Division taken in casualties and the remainder of the men physically and mentally fatigued.
Another War Awaits
When Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, the men of the 10th Mountain Division, like the rest of the Allied forces, were unfit to begin the process of war anew in the Pacific. One of the few scholars to write on that subject is Paul Fussell, who was a second lieutenant in a rifle platoon on the front lines. In an article combining his first-hand account of the war with a historical argument, Fussell explained that he was physically fatigued to the point where he would collapse when he jumped out of the back of a truck. The injuries to his back and knees were severe enough to have him adjudged disabled upon his return stateside yet not severe enough to preclude him from combat in the invasion of Japan. Fussell claimed that he and his entire 45th Infantry Division were in no condition to invade Japan as they had been repeatedly decimated, requiring three reconstitutions of the Division due to the number of casualties it had sustained. The American soldiers necessary for the invasion of the Japan were fatigued and exhausted physically and mentally following the intense combat with the highly trained German Army. Nevertheless, as these soldiers were not required for the occupation of Germany following Berlin’s surrender, they were ordered to prepare for the invasion of Japan.
Some might reason that the men of the 10th Mountain Division were among the freshest, most extensively trained, and best qualified soldiers to invade the Japanese archipelago of any Division in the Army. They might argue that because the 10th Mountain Division was one of the last Divisions to enter the European Theater, its men had not had the chance to fully utilize their skills and training. While the Army had invested significant resources into the 10th Mountain Division, it had also suffered enormously high casualties. In fact, rather than reinforcing an argument that the 10th Mountain Division could have realized its potential with the proposed invasion, it suggests the opposite. If the 10th Mountain Division is used as a benchmark from which to judge the condition of the U.S. Army, those who argue that invasion was a preferable alternative to end the war are faced with a daunting reality. In reviewing the exhaustion of the 10th Mountain Division’s men coupled with the considerable Division level casualties of 5,146 out of approximately 15,000, the situation becomes clear. If the 10th Mountain Division was one of the best that the United States could field for the invasion of Japan, the prospects for the rest of the Army would have been dismal indeed.
With the end of hostilities on the continent, the Allied command divided the soldiers into two groups: those who would occupy Germany and those who would invade Japan. For the 10th Mountain Division, the invasion of the Japanese home islands was the next mission, and they left Europe posthaste. The Japanese had defended key locations in the Marianas Islands, such as Saipan and Tinian, practically to the last man, and this had a significant impact on the expectations of American military planners and soldiers alike. The military planners adjusted their casualty projections into the millions based upon the ratios of American to Japanese casualties. The latest figures from the Islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa placed the casualty ratio between 1:1.25 and 1:2 American to Japanese casualties, respectively. At that rate, not including civilian resistance, the total 6,465,435 Japanese armed forces personnel who surrendered at the end of the war would have exacted an estimated average, from these ratios, of 4,200,000 Allied casualties. The soldiers’ knowledge of the casualty figures from Japan’s historically unparalleled fighting explains why many did not expect to survive the next phase of the war. Among the most costly battles were those for Saipan and Tinian in June and July, 1944, and in the U.S. Sixth Army’s invasion and recovery of the Japanese occupied Philippines in battles in Leyte, Lingayen, Mindoro, Manila, and Bataan from October 1944 into February 1945. But it was the Battle of Iwo Jima fought in February and March of 1945, and the Battle of Okinawa which began April 1 and ended on June 22, 1945, that were the two that lingered uppermost in the minds of the soldiers and military planners, alike.
World War II was half over in the minds of many of the Americans who had fought in North Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic, yet there was the most difficult, horrific, and deadly fighting still to come. With millions of armed Japanese soldiers and tens of millions of partially armed Japanese civilians preparing to defend Japan, the estimates of American casualties had climbed unacceptably high. The Japanese Imperial Armed Forces still had pilots and planes ready for combat. Furthermore, the Japanese had ordered the execution of all enemy prisoners of war. Those numbers had not been figured into the casualty estimates by American war planners, nor was the resulting psychological anxiety of the American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines upon learning of the reality of the invasion. From the perspective of the exhausted 10th Mountain Division as an expeditionary force, there was little hope of living in facing an army of Japanese dug into their home defenses, willing to fight to the last man, and ruthless in their treatment of prisoners. For the 10th Mountain Division, whose assignment was the first wave of the invasion, called Operation Downfall, casualty estimates predicted that it truly would be a lost Division.
Japanese military planners at the Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ) had begun redirecting military resources for the invasion of Japan after the Allied breach of the Marianas Islands and the loss of Saipan. The IGHQ had its own well-planned deadly counter-operation Ketsugō (“Decisive Operation”), the core of which was to kill as many Americans as possible. The IGHQ considered that the critical American weakness was the inability to sustain extremely high casualties. Thus, its intent was to break the will of the American people to sustain such high casualties so that the war could end with a negotiated settlement that did not lead to a foreign occupation. Contrary to what some historians have described as a defeated enemy, the Japanese had conserved 12,740 aircraft, 18,600 pilots, and 1,156,000 barrels of aviation fuel for the coming American invasion. Beginning with the first part of Operation Downfall called Operation Olympic, the Allied invasion force planned landings on the island of Kyushu to establish a beachhead from which to conduct operations. What Allied planners had failed to grasp was that their hopes of eliminating the remaining Imperial Japanese Army Air Force on the ground had become a near impossibility due to the kamikaze platform it had adopted, which required no airfields for return landings. Japanese strategists had secreted aircraft throughout the countryside and decentralized the fuel supply to ensure operational capability. War Department reports with their highest casualty estimates calculated that to defeat the Empire of Japan, Allied troops would have to kill somewhere between 5 and 10 million Japanese; whereas the IGHQ considered the number would far exceed such calculations and could reach 20 million Japanese lives lost in the defense of the Japanese archipelago. Both Japanese soldiers and civilian citizens had long prepared for the defense of theEmpire of Japan and for most, surrender had never been an option.
The U.S. Army was in the process of moving forces from Europe to the Pacific in what promised to be the largest invasion force ever assembled. Before an armada of ships could be assembled to deliver that gargantuan army, another plan, which had begun years earlier, matured. President Roosevelt had invested two billion dollars of research and development into an atomic weapons program ahead of Germany and Japan. The Manhattan Project produced two functional atomic bombs by late July 1945, and when President Truman learned what his late predecessor had achieved, he wasted no time in giving the Japanese government an ultimatum. When the government of the Empire of Japan refused to surrender, Truman ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Since that fatal moment of August 6, 1945, at 8:15 A.M. plus 17 seconds, historians scrutinized the leadership of Truman, who made it a point to take responsibility, immortalizing the phrase, “The buck stops here.” Perhaps Truman’s insistence upon taking responsibility is the reason historians have rarely looked at this event and the end of the war with Japan from the soldiers’ viewpoint.
Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were ordered to refit for the invasion of Japan before they received news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. As the B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb, the men of the 10th Mountain Division were at sea, and they left a record of the decision they would have made if it had been up to them. Captain Albert Jackman, one of the men responsible for preparing the 10th Mountain Division for the invasion of Japan, said, “There are many people who feel that it was a crime and a mistake to drop those bombs, but I don’t know of anybody in the 10th Mountain Division who felt that it wasn’t the thing to do.” Many men believed they had barely survived the Second World War in North Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic only to be faced with increasing odds that they would not survive it in East Asia and the West Pacific. Thus, when they heard the news that the bombs had been dropped, some shouted for joy and some reflected soberly on the sacrifice they would no longer be compelled to make. The men of the 10th Mountain Division experienced deliverance because there would be no need for Operation “Olympic” or Operation“Cornet,” the second part of Operation Downfall. It anticipated a planned massive invasion force of the island of Honshu. There would be no need for Operation Downfall and its colossal invasion plans of Imperial Japan along with all the ensuing combat, fighting, suffering, killing, and death it would entail.
Instead of the debate continuing to focus on why high-level American leadership made the decision to drop the atomic bombs, a consideration of and focus on the evidence of the soldiers’ mental and physical fatigue is relevant and consequential. It is the missing voice that is needed. The 10th Mountain Division and many of the war-weary veterans of the European Theater could agree with Captain Jackman that dropping the atomic bomb “was the only answer.”
 Larry Dewey, War and Redemption: Treatment and Recovery in Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (London: Routledge, 2017), 11. The author used the pseudonym “Ed” to protect the identity of his patient.
 Harvey A. Wieprecht, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, June 20, 2001, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2976/rec/13.
 Herbert S. Eisenstein, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, September 8, 1996, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2976/rec/13.
 Floyd Erickson, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, March 21, 2009, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2977/rec/13; D. M Giangreco, Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017), 30.
 J. A. Fox, “‘Secret Weapon’ Is Equal To 20,000 Tons of TNT,” The Evening Star, August 6, 1945, Number 36,983 edition, sec. A-1.
 Gar Alperovitz and Sanho Tree, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth(New York: Knopf, 1995).
 J. Samuel Walker, Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
 Michael Kort, The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).
 Robert James Maddox, Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004).
 Kort, Columbia Guide, 84.
 D. M Giangreco, Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017), https://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=5333069.
 Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 100.
 Erickson, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Sean Ender, Colorado Experience: Camp Hale, Streaming Video, Documentary (KRMA, 2020).
 Tom Feliu, Soldiers of the Summit, DVD, Documentary (KRMA, 1987).
 Clark, Earl E. and Richard C. Over, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, May 1988, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2824/rec/10.
 James A. Goodwin, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, June 9, 1988, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2753/rec/18.
 Department of Defense, Climb to Glory – Part I, accessed November 25, 2020, http://archive.org/details/gov.dod.dimoc.30160; Charles J. Sanders, The Boys of Winter: Life and Death in the U.S. Ski Troops During the Second World War (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2005), 54.
 Andres Vigil, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, February 21, 1992, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2830/rec/4.
 Albert Havens Jackman, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, Unknown, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2800/rec/2.
 Charles D. Hunt, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, accessed September 12, 2020, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2763/rec/6.
 Now extinct, the town of Pando, Colorado was located along the banks of the Eagle River between Red Cliff and Leadville.
 George F. Earle, “History of the 87th Mountain Infantry in Italy” (The Denver Public Library, 1945), 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Collections.
 Feliu, Soldiers of the Summit. The “D” in the “D-Series” maneuvers stood for Division and meant that the entire Division took part in the exercises. The men participated in war games, ate, and slept out in the snow and frigid temperatures for six weeks. On one night alone, 100 men were evacuated with frostbite as temperatures dipped as low as 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
 Jack A. Benson, “Skiing at Camp Hale: Mountain Troops during World War II,” The Western Historical Quarterly 15, no. 2 (1984): 163–74, https://doi.org/10.2307/968515; Jeffrey R Leich and New England Ski Museum, Tales of the 10th: The Mountain Troops and American Skiing (Franconia, New Hampshire: New England Ski Museum, 2008), 59; Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military. (Oxford: Oxford University Press), http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199891580.001.0001/acref-9780199891580.A casualty represented a soldier who was lost to the Division with a status of dead, missing, injured, or ill.
 Harvey A. Wieprecht, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, June 20, 2001, https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2976/rec/13.
 Jackman, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Hunt, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Goodwin, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Wieprecht, Audio, Part 3 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections; Erickson, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Alan T. Mann and Rosa C. Bird, “Mountain Blitz: Problems Designed by Lt. Col. Bolduc,” Camp Hale Ski-Zette, March 24, 1944, Volume 2, Number 11 edition, sec. 1, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.
 Alan T. Mann and Rosa C. Bird, “Psychiatrist of Note Assigned to Division,” The Camp Hale Ski-Zette, March 3, 1944, Volume 2, Number 8 edition, sec. 1.
 Hew Strachan, “Training, Morale and Modern War,” Journal of Contemporary History 41, no. 2 (April 2006): 211–27, https://doi.org/10.1177/0022009406062054, 27.
 Charles Wellborn, “History of the 86th Mountain Infantry in Italy” (1945), 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection, 4.
 George Price Hays, “Personal Memoirs of Lt. General George Price Hays, 1892-1978” (n.d.), Box 1, 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
 G. F. Welch, “The 10th Mountain Division Training from the Ground Up,” Infantry Magazine 90, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 6–6.
 Hays, “Personal Memoirs,” 34.
 Vigil, Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Maurice Isserman, “Mountain Men: On Italy’s Peaks, the Newly Fielded Alpine Troops of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division Fought a Deadly Uphill Battle.,” World War II 34, no. 5 (February 1, 2020): 32–42.
 Dewey, War and Redemption, 58-59.
 Dewey, 10.
 Hays, “Personal Memoirs,” 44.
 David R. Brower, “Remount Blue: The Combat Story of the Third Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division,” 1948, 35, 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
 Hays, “Personal Memoirs,” 48.
 Hays, 55.
 Maurice Isserman, “Mountain Men: On Italy’s Peaks, the Newly Fielded Alpine Troops of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division Fought a Deadly Uphill Battle.,” World War II 34, no. 5 (February 1, 2020): 32–42.
 Welch, “The 10th Mountain Division Training from the Ground Up.” The official casualties for the 10th Mountain Division during the Italian campaign were 4,154 wounded and 992 killed out of approximately 15,000 men.
 Paul Fussell, “Thank God for the Atom Bomb. Hiroshima: A Soldier’s View,” The New Republic, August 1981, 1–14.
 D. M Giangreco, Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017), 30.
 Sanders,The Boys of Winter, 117.
 Giangreco, Hell to Pay, 162.
 Megan Tzeng, “The Battle of Okinawa, 1945: Final Turning Point in the Pacific,” The History Teacher 34, no. 1 (2000): 100; Giangreco, Hell to Pay, 121.
 Giangreco, Hell to Pay,107.
 Giangreco, 103.
 Giangreco, 143–45.
 Giangreco, 221.
 David Eisenhower, Eisenhower at War, 1943-1945, 1st ed (New York: Random House, 1986), 656.
 Stephen E. Ambrose, D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, A Touchstone Book (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 57.
 Bob Greene, Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War, 1st ed (New York: W. Morrow, 2000), 18; Mitford M Mathews, A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), 198–99. “The buck stops here” was printed on a sign that President Truman kept on his desk in the oval office to signify that responsibility for the country’s decisions was his.
 Jackman, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
 Giangreco, Hell to Pay, 279.
 Jackman, Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections.
Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Touchstone, 1995.
————————–. Eisenhower. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.
Benson, Jack A. “Skiing at Camp Hale: Mountain Troops during World War II.” The Western Historical Quarterly 15, no. 2 (1984): 163–74. https://doi.org/10.2307/968515.
Brower, David R. “Remount Blue: The Combat Story of the Third Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division,” 1948. 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Clark, Earl E. and Richard C. Over. Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, May 1988. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2824/rec/10.
Department of Defense. Climb to Glory – Part I. Accessed November 25, 2020. http://archive.org/details/gov.dod.dimoc.30160.
Dewey, Larry. War and Redemption: Treatment and Recovery in Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. London: Routledge, 2017.
Earle, George F. “History of the 87th Mountain Infantry in Italy,” 1945. 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Eisenhower, David. Eisenhower at War, 1943-1945. New York: Random House, 1986.
Ender, Sean. Colorado Experience: Camp Hale. Streaming Video, Documentary. KRMA, 2020.
Erickson, Floyd. Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, March 21, 2009. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2977/rec/13.
Feliu, Tom. Soldiers of the Summit. DVD, Documentary. KRMA, 1987.
Fox, J. A. “‘Secret Weapon’ Is Equal To 20,000 Tons of TNT.” The Evening Star. August 6, 1945, 36,983rd edition, sec. A-1.
Fussell, Paul. “Thank God for the Atom Bomb. Hiroshima: A Soldier’s View.” The New Republic, August 1981, 1–14.
Giangreco, D. M. “‘A Score of Bloody Okinawas and Iwo Jimas’: President Truman and Casualty Estimates for the Invasion of Japan.” Pacific Historical Review 72, no. 1 (2003): 93–132. https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2003.72.1.93.
Giangreco, D. M. Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947.Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017.
Goodwin, James A. Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, June 9, 1988. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2753/rec/18.
Greene, Bob. Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War. New York: W. Morrow, 2000.
Hays, George Price. “Personal Memoirs of Lt. General George Price Hays, 1892-1978,” n.d. Box 1. 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Hunt, Charles D. Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections. Accessed September 12, 2020. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2763/rec/6.
Isserman, Maurice. “Mountain Men: On Italy’s Peaks, the Newly Fielded Alpine Troops of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division Fought a Deadly Uphill Battle.” World War II 34, no. 5 (February 1, 2020): 32–42.
Jackman, Albert Havens. Audio, Part 1 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, Unknown. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2800/rec/2.
Kort, Michael. The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
Leich, Jeffrey R, and New England Ski Museum. Tales of the 10th: The Mountain Troops and American Skiing. Franconia, New Hampshire: New England Ski Museum, 2008.
Mann, Alan T., and Rosa C. Bird. “Mountain Blitz: Problems Designed by Lt. Col. Bolduc.” Camp Hale Ski-Zette. March 24, 1944, Volume 2, Number 11 edition, sec. 1. Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.
———-. “Psychiatrist of Note Assigned to Division.” The Camp Hale Ski-Zette. March 3, 1944, Volume 2, Number 8 edition, sec. 1.
Mathews, Mitford M.A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951.
Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military.New York: Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199891580.001.0001/acref-9780199891580.
Sanders, Charles J. The Boys of Winter: Life and Death in the U.S. Ski Troops During the Second World War. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2005.
Strachan, Hew. “Training, Morale and Modern War.” Journal of Contemporary History 41, no. 2 (April 2006): 211–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022009406062054.
Tzeng, Megan. “The Battle of Okinawa, 1945: Final Turning Point in the Pacific.” The History Teacher 34, no. 1 (2000): 95–117.
Vigil, Andres. Audio, Part 2 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, February 21, 1992. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2830/rec/4.
Welch, G. F. “The 10th Mountain Division Training from the Ground Up.” Infantry Magazine 90, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 6–6.
Wellborn, Charles. “History of the 86th Mountain Infantry in Italy,” 1945. 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Wieprecht, Harvey A. Audio, Part 3 – 10th Mountain Division Records – Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Digital Collections, June 20, 2001. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p16079coll36/id/2976/rec/13.