What war does to the warriors

Long after the killing is over, soldiers are haunted

Marines storm Guadalcanal in World War II
(Image credit: Illustrated | man_kukuku/Getty Images, bankrx/iStock, javarman3/iStock)

This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

When a B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima 75 years ago this month, my father, then 20, was waiting on a troop ship in the Philippines for the order to invade Japan. The bomb, he always said, probably saved his life. The soldiers of his 86th Infantry Division, who'd already fought their way from France to Germany, had been told that 70 percent of the U.S. invasion force might die as Japanese fighters fiercely defended their homeland. In the war stories he told me, my dad made it clear he was proud of his service, but that he had seen terrible things and that he had killed many Nazi soldiers with his mortar. Only toward the end of his life did he speak of any feelings of guilt.

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