BRADENTON, FL. (WFLA) – September 2nd marks the 70th anniversary of VJ day, the official end of World War II. On this day in 1945 the Japanese officially surrendered to the U.S. and after years of fighting, the world was at peace.
From 1941 to 1945, around 16 million Americans served in the military- defending this country and protecting freedom around the world. And many didn’t have a choice. Andy Anderson, a veteran of the US Army Air Corps reflected, “I was in college when Uncle Sam said ‘come’.”
Air Corps veteran Len Jordan said, “You had a job to do and that’s what you did.”
The war was grueling. More than 400,000 Americans were killed. Andy Anderson served on B-24 bombers, and had no idea what the future would hold. Anderson said, “When you’re in the service, what are you thinking about? You’re thinking about am I going to get through it?”
But on September 2nd, 1945 their fears were relieved. On that day, a Japanese delegation went aboard the USS Missouri and officially surrendered, ending what some call the deadliest war in human history.
When reflecting on the end of the war, Anderson said, “[It was] wonderful. Because we knew things like rationing and so forth, would be at an end, we knew that our lives were not going to be in danger, we were no longer fighting.”
Pilot Dick Wyke was preparing for upcoming bombing missions when the war finally ended. He said, “It was a wonderful feeling, obviously very relieving to those of us who could’ve been in danger of our lives.”
Things were never the same after that. Jordan remembered, “We servicemen came back and things were entirely different than they were when we went in. It was a different attitude of people toward service people and the services.”
Wyke said its important for future generations to understand the sacrifices they made. He said, “I want them to appreciate that we did what we were expected to do.” He hopes it inspires others to stand up and serve – if our freedoms are ever threatened.
After the war, these men, like many, returned to the civilian world and started their lives, in a country free from fear. And 70 years later, we reap the benefits of their bravery.