Veterans Remember Victory in Japan and related media

On August 14, 1945, Japanese forces agreed to Allied demands for an unconditional surrender, ending combat in World War II. As we remember V-J Day, find out how several American servicemen experienced this historic moment.

Robert Balfour

Robert Balfour

When Robert Balfour first tried to enlist in the Navy, he was rejected due to bad eyesight. So the Wisconsin native memorized the eye chart, took the test again and eventually made his way onto Admiral William "Bull" Halsey's staff. On September 2, 1945, Balfour witnessed the formal Japanese surrender ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. After the war, he became a trusted advisor to Minnesota governor Harold Stassen and Dwight Eisenhower. To find out more, visit the Veterans History Project, a collection of personal narratives made available by the Library of Congress.

Age on V-J Day: 27
Place of Birth: Wyocena, WI
Branch of Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Location of Service: 3rd Fleet
Citation: Robert Balfour Collection (AFC/2001/001/2531), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
Balfour receives medal

Robert Balfour receives a commendation medal from Admiral Halsey in November 1945.

Balfour on USS New Jersey

The crew of the U.S.S. New Jersey. Balfour is fifth from left in the second row.

Balfour with Dwight Eisenhower

Balfour and Dwight Eisenhower during Eisenhower's 1952 presidential campaign.

Sighed photo of Eisenhower to Balfour

Signed photo of Eisenhower with a note thanking Balfour for his work on the 1952 presidential campaign.

Former Minnesota governor Stassen with Balfour

Former Minnesota governor Harold Stassen met Balfour while serving on Admiral Halsey's staff. Balfour remained close to Stassen, serving as campaign manager for his presidential primary run in 1952.

Balfour in the 1990s

Balfour in the 1990s.

 

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Formal Surrender of Japan

This card, which commemorates the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, was signed by General Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Admiral William "Bull" Halsey.

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Eisenhower Letter

Letter from President-elect Dwight Eisenhower thanking Robert Balfour for his work on the 1952 campaign.

Glen Wallace

Glen Wallace

Naval pilot Glen Wallace was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Essex when he learned of the Japanese surrender. His wartime diary reveals his excitement over the war's sudden end and eagerness to return home. To find out more, visit the Veterans History Project, a collection of personal narratives made available by the Library of Congress.

Age on V-J Day: 25
Place of Birth: Corning, AR
Branch of Service: Navy
Rank: Captain
Location of Service: Fighter Squadron 83
Citation: Glen Wallace Collection (AFC/2001/001/11540), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
Wallace with three fellow pilots

Wallace, far right, and three fellow pilots in March 1945.

Wallace in the Navy

Wallace remained in the Navy for nearly 30 years.

Wallace with his family

Wallace and his family in the 1950s.

Painting of Glen Wallace

Painting of a young Glen Wallace in uniform.

Click on the pages below to explore excerpts from Glen Wallace's wartime diary.

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Glen Wallace kept a wartime diary of his time as a naval pilot that covers nearly three years, including August 1945, when he anxiously awaited the end of the war.

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July 10, 1945

Hit Tokyo again

August 1

We were supposed to hit Korea (210) miles tomorrow but is called off because of typhoons. Had AA practice and one DD was hit with a five incher!

August 4

My Birthday. Spent it between Tokyo and Iwo Jima. The Korea deal was on again and is now off again. Everything SNAFU.

August 7

Heard of Atomic bomb being dropped on Japan.

August 8

Strikes on Japan cancelled because of weather. Damn that scuttlebutt. We didn't go home again.

August 9

Strikes on Japan. Coumbe was shot down by AA. Blacky Harris was killed when a 100lb bomb exploded on his plane in mid air. One bomber went straight in. No survivors.

 

Huey Batch in an F6F and two torpedo planes ditched and were picked up by DD. We were under attack by Japs all day. Several shot down. One DD hit. Same air plans for tomorrow as today. No relief in sight. God damn Halsey and the Japs.

August 10

More strikes. Coumbe was picked up but Clem Wear spun in and was killed trying to throw him a raft. I hear the Japs want to quit.

August 11

No strikes. Typhoon in the area. Coumbe is back.

August 13

Strikes on Tokyo. 10 or 12 Japs splashed around the fleet today. Three barrier crashes.

August 15

It's All Over! Our planes were over Tokyo when peace was declared. The C.A.R. shot down 4 Japs this P.M. We may go home tomorrow. The other ships are in on the occupation.

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August 18

We got 10 replacement pilots- Farrell and Weisner came back aboard. It looks like we will be out here a long time yet. They have stopped cannibalizing the ship and are trying to get some of the stuff back. 2,300 lbs. of butter! All fouled up.

August 20

We are still cannibalizing ship. Just hear the bull horn tell a DD alongside that we would see them in Frisco. The Wasp is taking our place here and we are going to +G.38.4. Sounds good!

August 22

Had a big exhibition for moving pictures. We may be in on the occupation of Japan and then again we may go home. Not sure of anything.

August 24

Guess we don't go home.

August 25

Patrols over Japan. Threw cigarettes to POW's. Tokyo is flat. Had the tail of my plane chewed off by Gunner Way's plane. Seven planes cracked up today. Three pilots in the water. No one hurt. More of same tomorrow.

August 27

Japs came abroad the Missouri to turn in their swords but said they wanted them back after the ceremonies because they used to them. Our ships in Tokyo Bay now. Landings tomorrow. Two planes cracked up today.

August 28

Flew Atsugi patrol. Saw the airborne troops land. Flat-hatted around and looked at Yokohama, Yonusuki and Tokyo over. Saw POW camp. Tomorrow we refuel and get replacement aircraft. Cracked up two more today. Even the Captain is grasping at straws. He said, "Tomorrow we take aboard passengers for the States, but it may not mean anything."

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August 30

Took aboard over 500 passengers- only dropped 4 in the drink. Lots of hustle and bustle. We're going home at last. (It says here) Two more days operations leave 3rd.

August 31

We really gave the Emperor a buzz job today. Flat-hatted over Tokyo and surrounding areas for two hours. Snuffy landed at Yokosuki and left his plane there, is now aboard the Yorktown. May go home tomorrow!

September 1

Took aboard more passengers, must have over 1,000 now. We had the battleship Wisconsin alongside. Have one happy commander aboard. He turned on the ship's sprinkler system today and flooded us out. We are now on our way to rendezvous with a tanker fleet. We leave for Seattle the 3rd via the Great Circle Route- the Aleutians.

September 3

We started for home this AM. We have another carrier the "San Jacinto," a battleship "Mass," one SUI "San Diego" and two cans. Our homeward bound pennant was hoisted but broke off and fell in the sea. It was 1,538 feet long.'

September 5

Position 40-08 N latitude 156-10 E longitude. Getting cold, rain and wind all day. I guess its typical Aleutian weather. The movies are getting worse all the time.

September 7

Tomorrow is also Fri 7th. We are now at 47 degrees N latitude. Weather cold. Heard Admiral --- is dead. Sea is very rough!

September 12

The only plane left on board is the English Seafire that landed here and cracked up. We are 300 miles from Seattle, Wash. I guess the boys that flew in are making a big night of it.

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September 12

We had one F6F go in on take-off but pilot was rescued. The doc says I am grounded and will have to go before a medical board for survey. They had better send me home for my leave first!

September 14

Sand Point- Seattle, Wash. What a wonderful place this old U.S. is! Called home- drank lots of beer- vegetables and cold milk.

September 15

Went to town. Put in for regular Navy. Probably won't make it because of busted back.

September 18

Air Group 83 was decommissioned. I got orders to Atlanta, GA for instructor's school and then to San Diego, California for further assignment.

September 22

Arrived Chicago. Met Bonnie and my boy.

September 23

Rockford, IL

October 5

St. Louis

October 8

Poplar Bluff

October 29

Atlanta, GA and my leave is over. Guess the war was pretty tough on the people back home.

November3

Received Air medal from Capt. Strong also D.F.C.

November 13

Atlanta is some town and this is some life. Eat, sleep and go to town. Not much flying and a little ground school. Sea life was never like this.

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Glen Wallace remained in the United States Navy for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1971.

Joseph Mickey

Joseph Mickey

On August 10, 1945, one day after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Joseph Mickey was stationed at General Douglas MacArthur's Manila headquarters. There, he witnessed the arrival of the Japanese delegation that formally agreed to President Truman's demand of unconditional surrender. Soon after, Mickey was called upon to record MacArthur's official directive ordering Allied military personnel into Japan for the postwar occupation. To find out more, visit the Veterans History Project, a collection of personal narratives made available by the Library of Congress.

Age on V-J Day: 28
Place of Birth: Quawka, IL
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Rank: Technical Sergeant
Location of Service: General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Arena
Citation: Joseph Mickey Collection (AFC/2001/001/10305), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
Mickey at Camp Wolters

Technical Sergeant Joseph Mickey trained at Camp Wolters, Texas, before serving in the Philippines at Leyte Island and Manila.

Mickey at General MacArther's Manila headquarters

Mickey was stationed at General MacArthur's Manila headquarters when he learned of the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

Di Ichi building in Tokyo

MacArthur directed the postwar occupation of Japan from the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo.

Joseph Mickey remaining at MacArthur's headquarters

Following the Japanese surrender, Mickey remained at MacArthur's headquarters during the transition to the postwar occupation.

 

 

Robert Mackey

Robert Mackey

Robert Mackey joined the crew of the U.S.S. Missouri in October 1944, and served on the battleship as it supported the invasions of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. When the Missouri was chosen to host the formal Japanese surrender ceremony, Mackey, as the ship's disbursement officer, scrambled to ensure that the historic moment went off without a hitch. To find out more, visit the Veterans History Project, a collection of personal narratives made available by the Library of Congress.

Age on V-J Day: 25
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Branch of Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Location of Service: U.S.S. Missouri, BB 63
Citation: Robert Mackey Collection (AFC/2001/001/10920), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
Mackey with USS Missouri crew

Robert Mackey and the U.S.S. Missouri crew in the fall of 1945.

Mackey meeting with Pope Pius XII

Mackey and U.S.S. Missouri officers meet with Pope Pius XII in the fall of 1945.

 

 

Robert Hunt

Robert Hunt

After serving at Wake Island and the Battle of Midway, torpedo man Robert Hunt was in San Francisco as the war drew to an end. When he learned of the Japanese surrender on V-J Day, he fulfilled a pledge to honor his fallen comrades, waving a celebratory flag on Market Street for those who had never made it home. To find out more, visit the Veterans History Project, a collection of personal narratives made available by the Library of Congress.

Age on V-J Day: 26
Place of Birth: Mason City, IA
Branch of Service: Navy
Rank: Chief
Unit of Service: U.S.S. Tambor
Citation: Robert Hunt Collection (AFC/2001/001/67427), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

 

 

 

Veterans Remember Victory in Japan

On August 14, 1945, Japanese forces agrees to Allied demands for an unconditional surrender, ending combat in World War II. As we remember V-J Day, find out how several American servicemen experienced this historic moment.

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