Hanford Reach: In The Atomic Field > Oral Histories

I was born March 1,1946.

Our family was less than a half a mile from the center of the blast; I was twelve weeks along inside of my mother. My sister and I as far as we know are the only survivors within a half a mile from the center, today; as far as I know I am the youngest survivor of the atomic bomb. So we are fortunate...

And it was not easy for me to survive. But I'm here today; I did not die.

She was nursing my brother, and my sister was beside her when the bomb exploded.

She saw a blue/white light… At half a mile, the light and the sound are almost instantaneous... My mother was knocked unconscious by one of the main beams supporting the house; she was blown away. She could actually remember the beam coming toward her that knocked her unconscious.

My mother firmly believed her grandmother helped her to survive; her grandmother. Because when she was unconscious, she heard the voice of a woman asking her to wake up, calling to her by name, three times: “Shizue, Shizue, Shizue... Wake up.”

When she came to, everything was red; she felt heat. She realized the house was not on fire yet… She was able to crawl out of that crushed, collapsed house, out to the street, with my sister, and my brother… But when she got out of the house, she realized the city was no longer there… She could see, she could see the city was no longer there.

General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan project, he had a plan to drop five more bombs on Japan. He did not take the order from Truman. He made his own decision, without his concurrence. The foremost reason was he wanted to tell Russia that we are the Superpower. And number two: we had invested trillions of dollars developing a bomb; he was afraid that he will be chastised by the public for spending so much money developing the bomb without successful use. He had a chance to use it in Japan, to tell the world: "We are the Superpower."

The scientists that worked for Groves protested implementing dropping the bomb. Matter of fact, they signed a petition, submitted to President Truman, not to use the bomb. But General Leslie Groves ignored that petition because of those two reasons.

My mother kept her kimono that she was wearing when the bomb fell, up to just before she passed away.

She was wearing this kimono when she survived the blast. And it was blood-soaked; her blood was soaked on the kimono... I don't know why she kept it. She burned the kimono, burned it before she passed away. I guess to her, it was symbolic; to her it was the final closure.

She never mentioned it. She never mentioned it to me. Probably in her mind, she wanted to keep that away from me. I think she was trying to protect me… Even though she talked to me over and over and over and over, what happened, that day.