In a new Special Report titled ‘The Crossroads of Atomic Warfare in One Family,’ published simultaneously by Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, RECNA-Nagasaki University, and Nautilus Institute, Michael Roach, former US Army atomic demolition munitions specialist, provides a remarkable account of multigenerational involvement in nuclear war, including a previously unpublished photo of the starboard nose of the Enola Gay bomber that delivered the first atomic bomb and returned to Tinian airfield, showing the inscription “First Atomic Bomb – Hiroshima – August 6, 1945.”
Michael Roach and his father Kenneth Roach served in the US Army two decades apart on missions that involved the atomic bomb. The prospect of real atomic warfare in Japan in the 1940s, and potential atomic warfare in Korea in the 1960s, brought their lives together historically, but father and son came away from their experiences with completely different conclusions. Roach writes, “He was very proud of his service in helping to carry out a small part in the atomic bombing missions over Japan that ended the war. On the other hand, I am still troubled by the thought that I came so close to such a momentous decision as personally detonating an atomic bomb in a densely populated metropolis on so little historical knowledge and justification. That concern has sent me on a lifetime of learning history and trying to create a more just and equitable world.”
The report sheds light on the US government’s thinking about nuclear weapons, particularly vis-à-vis military operations in Northeast Asia. It also outlines the impracticality and risks of the US strategy to use tactical atomic weapons in Korea in the 1960s.
Click on the adjacent link to download the full report.
About the Author
Michael Roach is a retired renewable energy manager residing in a small Wisconsin farm town surrounded by vast green fields of corn and soybeans. He is currently writing a history of wheat culture using commodity chain analysis. His research is part of a larger project that examines the history of illumination and power technologies, from 18th century whale oil to modern microgrids. He also volunteers his time assisting in the reconstruction of Ukraine using ultra energy efficient modular multifamily housing powered by solar microgrids. He served in US Forces Korea as an Atomic Demolition Munitions engineer in 1968.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, RECNA-Nagasaki University, and Nautilus Institute, nor their staff or boards.
Image: Rare Photo of the Starboard Side of the “Enola Gay” Parked on the Tarmac in Tinian, 1945 (Collection of Kenneth Roach)