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.
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|
|Location of Service:||3rd Fleet|
|Citation:||Robert Balfour Collection (AFC/2001/001/2531), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.|
Robert Balfour receives a commendation medal from Admiral Halsey in November 1945.
The crew of the U.S.S. New Jersey. Balfour is fifth from left in the second row.
Balfour and Dwight Eisenhower during Eisenhower's 1952 presidential campaign.
Signed photo of Eisenhower with a note thanking Balfour for his work on the 1952 presidential campaign.
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.
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.
Letter from President-elect Dwight Eisenhower thanking Robert Balfour for his work on the 1952 campaign.
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|
|Location of Service:||Fighter Squadron 83|
|Citation:||Glen Wallace Collection (AFC/2001/001/11540), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.|
Click on the pages below to explore excerpts from Glen Wallace's wartime diary.
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.
Hit Tokyo again
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!
My Birthday. Spent it between Tokyo and Iwo Jima. The Korea deal was on again and is now off again. Everything SNAFU.
Heard of Atomic bomb being dropped on Japan.
Strikes on Japan cancelled because of weather. Damn that scuttlebutt. We didn't go home again.
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.
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.
No strikes. Typhoon in the area. Coumbe is back.
Strikes on Tokyo. 10 or 12 Japs splashed around the fleet today. Three barrier crashes.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Guess we don't go home.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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!
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.
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.'
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.
Tomorrow is also Fri 7th. We are now at 47 degrees N latitude. Weather cold. Heard Admiral --- is dead. Sea is very rough!
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.
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!
Sand Point- Seattle, Wash. What a wonderful place this old U.S. is! Called home- drank lots of beer- vegetables and cold milk.
Went to town. Put in for regular Navy. Probably won't make it because of busted back.
Air Group 83 was decommissioned. I got orders to Atlanta, GA for instructor's school and then to San Diego, California for further assignment.
Arrived Chicago. Met Bonnie and my boy.
Atlanta, GA and my leave is over. Guess the war was pretty tough on the people back home.
Received Air medal from Capt. Strong also D.F.C.
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.
Glen Wallace remained in the United States Navy for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1971.
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|
|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.|
Technical Sergeant Joseph Mickey trained at Camp Wolters, Texas, before serving in the Philippines at Leyte Island and Manila.
Mickey was stationed at General MacArthur's Manila headquarters when he learned of the Japanese surrender in August 1945.
MacArthur directed the postwar occupation of Japan from the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo.
Following the Japanese surrender, Mickey remained at MacArthur's headquarters during the transition to the postwar occupation.
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|
|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.|
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|
|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.
Related Interactives (1)
Veterans Remember Victory in Japan
Veterans Remember Victory in JapanInteractive
Related Videos (10)
A-Bomb: G Cans
A-Bomb: G CansVideo Clip (2:35)
Video Clip (2:35)
Don Wildman explores the inner workings of the G-cans, Japan's answer to monsoon flooding.
Marines Invade Iwo Jima
Marines Invade Iwo JimaVideo Clip (2:45)
Video Clip (2:45)
Before the famous flag-raising, U.S. forces encounter fierce resistance from entrenched Japanese forces at Iwo Jima in 1945.
Imperial Warship Yamato
Imperial Warship YamatoVideo Clip (2:07)
Video Clip (2:07)
The Imperial Japanese Warship Yamato, weighing 72,800 tons, was the largest battleship ever built. It was thought to be unsinkable, but was it really?
A-Bomb:TunnelsVideo Clip (2:27)
Video Clip (2:27)
In late 1944, approximately 6,000 laborers were able to complete nearly 80% of an underground fortress designed to protect Emperor Hirohito.
Battle 360: The Doolittle Raid
Battle 360: The Doolittle RaidVideo Clip (3:08)
Video Clip (3:08)
In this Battle 360 video clip, we go back to when Pearl Harbor was attacked. See how soldiers were in mode to fight and get revenge. From bombers to air craft carriers, the U.S. was packing heat to go to Tokyo.
KI-43 Oscar Fighter Plane
KI-43 Oscar Fighter PlaneVideo Clip (1:14)
Video Clip (1:14)
Though slower than the P-40, the KI-43 Oscar was nimble and could outmaneuver most planes. Catch a glimpse of the Japanese fighter plane that came after the Nate.
Operation Ten-GoVideo Clip (4:04)
Video Clip (4:04)
Discover the suspenseful story of Japan's Yamato as it launches a suicide mission, Operation Ten-Go, by attempting to attack Americans at Okinawa.
USS Emmons in Okinawa
USS Emmons in OkinawaVideo Clip (2:34)
Video Clip (2:34)
Don Wildman dives into Okinawa's waters to the sunken American battleship, the USS Emmons.
Bombing Japanese bases
Bombing Japanese basesVideo Clip (1:45)
Video Clip (1:45)
Unable to neutralize U.S. opposition to its actions in SE Asia, Japan opened hostilities against the United States and Great Britain on December 7, 1941, by striking at Pearl Harbor, Singapore, and other Pacific possessions. The fortunes of war at first ran in favor of Japan, and by the end of 1942 the spread of Japanese military might over the Pacific to the doors of India and of Alaska was prodigious. Then the tide turned; territory was lost to the Allies island by island; warfare reached Japan itself with intensive bombing; and finally in 1945, following the explosion of atomic bombs by the United States over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on August 14, the formal surrender being on the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Harbor on September 2, 1945.
Suicide Bombers Attack USS Hornet
Suicide Bombers Attack USS HornetVideo Clip (2:09)
Video Clip (2:09)
In 1945, the Battle of Okinawa resulted in massive U.S. casualties. The USS Hornet was in the center of this bloody fight.
Related Photo Galleries (7)
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Hiroshima and Nagasaki(12 Photos)
See pictures from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
World War II Pilots and Planes
World War II Pilots and Planes(12 Photos)
View photos of World War II pilots and planes.
World War II: Rest and Relaxation
World War II: Rest and Relaxation(10 Photos)
View photos of soliders from World War II
Allied Military Leaders
Allied Military Leaders(11 Photos)
View photos of Allied military leaders
Axis Military Leaders
Axis Military Leaders(12 Photos)
View images of Axis military leaders from World War II.
World War II Political Leaders
World War II Political Leaders(9 Photos)
View photos of World War II political leaders.
Russian Rulers(18 Photos)
From the Romanovs to Revolution and beyond, discover the rulers and politicians behind Russia's tumultuous history.
Related Speeches & Audio (10)
Jonathan Wainwright Released From Japanese Prison Camp
Jonathan Wainwright Released From Japanese Prison CampAudio Clip (2:26)
Audio Clip (2:26)
Speaking from U.S. Army-controlled Tokyo Radio, Lt. Gen. Jonathan "Skinny" Wainwright, who commanded American and Filipino forces in the last days of Corregidor and Bataan in 1942, expresses his gratitude for his release. On August 20, 1945, he was found alive in a Japanese prison camp in Manchuria, where he'd been held captive for nearly four years.
Japan's Unconditional Surrender
Japan's Unconditional SurrenderAudio Clip (4:13)
Audio Clip (4:13)
An NBC news report summarizes the events of August 15, 1945, when Emperor Hirohito of Japan announced that his country will accept unconditional surrender and called for a ceasefire that formally ended World War II.
Truman Announces Japan's Surrender
Truman Announces Japan's SurrenderAudio Clip (1:57)
Audio Clip (1:57)
On September 1, 1945, in a radio address to the American people, President Harry Truman announces the unconditional surrender of Japan, formalized aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
Battle for Iwo Jima
Battle for Iwo JimaAudio Clip (3:38)
Audio Clip (3:38)
Two war correspondents deliver a dramatic account of the U.S.'s hard-won battle for Iwo Jima in March 1945.
U.S. Occupation of Japan
U.S. Occupation of JapanAudio Clip (2:06)
Audio Clip (2:06)
On August 30, 1945, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan to organize the Allied occupation of the country. NBC coverage of the event includes news of released POWs and the general's good spirits as he descends the ramp of his four-engine C-54.
Easter on Recently Captured Iwo Jima
Easter on Recently Captured Iwo JimaAudio Clip (3:21)
Audio Clip (3:21)
A chaplain's service for U.S. troops on Iwo Jima is broadcast live. On March 26, 1945, after 36 days of bloody battle, the United States took control of the strategically important Japanese island.
B-29 Raid Against Japan
B-29 Raid Against JapanAudio Clip (0:54)
Audio Clip (0:54)
As the United States bombards the Japanese islands in 1945, low-level air attacks can be heard in the first-ever direct broadcast of a B-29 raid.
Conditions at Japanese Internment Camps
Conditions at Japanese Internment CampsAudio Clip (3:47)
Audio Clip (3:47)
In a 1943 radio broadcast, Dillon S. Meyer, director of the War Relocation Authority, conveys his disapproval of the Japanese internment camps, which he has been overseeing since they were instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.
Pearl Harbor Attack
Pearl Harbor AttackAudio Clip (1:30)
Audio Clip (1:30)
Shortly after Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, NBC radio reporter H. V. Kaltenborn brings the nation up to date as the events play out in the Pacific.
Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese Surrender
Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese SurrenderAudio Clip (1:21)
Audio Clip (1:21)
On September 2, 1945, aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, World War II comes to a close when Japanese officials sign the unconditional surrender. Gen. Douglas MacArthur presides over the signing and delivers a short speech on the momentous occasion.
Most Popular Videos on History.com
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up