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How I Met My Dad After World War II Ended

Barbara Anne Helberg is an award-winning Fiction freelancer, Internet writer, Photographer, WordPress blogger, and former Journalist.

Atomic Bomb

A mushroom cloud generated by an atomic bomb blast.

A mushroom cloud generated by an atomic bomb blast.

Dad Survived Potential Invasion

Because the choice to use the atomic bomb was made, my dad survived World War II. He and thousands of Army personnel boarded ships that crossed the Pacific to invade the island of Japan. Their orders to take the island were contingent on the success of the atomic bomb.

Even today, the use of the bomb is debated as to whether it was the right thing to do. My answer is "yes," the choice was obvious and correct. That opinion isn't based just on the fact that the bomb's use brought my dad home. As the bomb dropped, I was not yet born.

Rather, my thoughts are based on the overwhelming evidence that the war would have continued without the bomb's use, and without relief in sight, meaning thousands and thousands more soldiers would have died, probably including my dad. Using the bomb actually contained that count, ending hostilities sooner than would have been the case without its use.

Dad's assignment, along with his fellows, was to physically invade the island of Japan if the bomb failed. Japanese troops had the island so fortified at the time that it would have been a horrifically bloody invasion with the American Army trying to scale walls and swarm the island's most guarded points of entry. The cost of life would have been unimaginable.

Locating Tokyo, Japan

Island of Japan

Tokyo -- Government Officials Disputed Pearl Harbor Bombing

Even as the Japanese government in Tokyo had disputed invading Pearl Harbor with a bombing raid to destroy the USA's naval fleet based there in 1941, the American government argued over the potential use of the atomic bomb to end the war nearly four years later.

Looking at a map uncovers the minuscule size of the country of Japan. One wonders how its government could justify a bombing raid on Pearl Harbor without considering the mighty response the Americans were certain to raise. (And raise they did!)

America's first major attack on Japan after declaring war on the Japanese Empire following Pearl Harbor came in April of 1942, when Lt. Gen James H. Doolittle and his crew bombed Tokyo. The war would drag on, but the Doolittle raid was the beginning of the end for the Japanese Empire.

The Atomic Bomb in World War II

I was a year old in this picture, the only one I have of myself as a baby.

I was a year old in this picture, the only one I have of myself as a baby.

My Birth and Dad's Return

I was born on a cold January day in 1946. By then, my dad's Japanese invasion orders had changed to those of occupation operations and cleanup after the atomic bomb had obliterated two large Japanese cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He was safe, but he didn't know he faced another challenge upon his return to America.

In June of 1946, at age six months, I wasn't to be easily won over by the stranger that invaded our home—my Army dad.

Hugging my mother, I refused to go to my dad's eager arms. I wanted nothing to do with this burly figure of a man who had suddenly appeared and wrapped himself around my mother. I hid my eyes against my mother's breast.

Dad Pulled Out A Toy Top

My dad, by now, didn't know the meaning of defeat. Determined to win me over, he laid on the floor and drew out a toy top. Remember those little triangular, whirling gizmos that spun round and round on a spindle base and went faster and faster with each pump of the top's straight up, knobbed handle?

Dad spun it, and I watched it from the safe haven of my mother's arms. In a few minutes, when I began to squirm and show some interest in the top, my mother put me on the floor beside the top and my grinning dad.

Mom and Dad As A Young Married Couple


A Wise and Winning Father Delights His Daughter

My dad didn't reach out to me after mother put me beside him on the floor. He wisely knew that would be too direct and scary for the daughter he was trying to win over.

Instead, he merely kept on spinning the wobbling top as I watched with six-month-old baby bug eyes. (I know this because this story became family lore and was told at almost every family reunion thereafter!)

Casually, dad did the magical thing that captured my heart. He laid flat out on the floor and blew steadily and hard at the sides of the spinning top. The top whistled, for it was equipped with tiny holes on its sides that caused the air to speak as it spun.

My heart thumped, and my eyes widened and bulged out some serious attention. Around a big smile, my dad repeated his blowing into the top's side holes. The top whistled. I giggled. My dad blew some more and laughed. The top whistled, and I giggled. He blew. The top whistled its greeting. I giggled. My dad laughed. I planted a look at him and giggled. He blew, and I burst out a loud screech of delight.

As the top continued to whistle, and I continued to giggle and flap my hands, my dad laughed and laughed a soft laugh of love. I screeched and raised my arms, getting giddy with the bonding experience. Finally, my dad scooted over to me and gathered me close to him, and craned his neck toward the top to blow at it. I screeched and snuggled and never again left his daddy's arms.

In that small moment in time of love and delight, we became best friends for life.

My dad passed away on June 19, 2011, on Sunday, Father's Day. He still is sorely missed by his little laughing screecher (and her seven siblings.)

But we all, by the grace of God, had a lovely and memorable spin.

Dad With His First Three Children

We grew to a family of five—I'm at the right, front—before five more siblings joined my two brothers and me to make us ten.

We grew to a family of five—I'm at the right, front—before five more siblings joined my two brothers and me to make us ten.

Part of the World War II National Memorial in Washington, D.C.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Share A Family War Story

Barbara Anne Helberg (author) from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA on September 08, 2016:

@Anita K. Dennis, Author -- Anita, thanks for your response and compliment. My parents were truly dedicated to each other and the family's well-being.

You raise an interesting wartime question. However, I think the same decision would have been made regarding a European country simply because the atomic bomb was certain to break any enemy who was bent on continuing the slaughter and conquer of others. Collateral containment was key to ending the war.

Anita K. Dennis, Author on September 08, 2016:

Barb, what a touching story. What loving parents!

I know many Japanese lives were lost, but they attacked us. I wonder if it had been a European country that attacked us if we would have dropped the bomb on them. Just wondering....

Barbara Anne Helberg (author) from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA on September 08, 2016:

@teachers12345 -- Thank you so much for your personal comment; yes, my dad always was an interested and involved father whom we cherished. And he and my mother were in love all their lives from the time they met as 15- and 16-year-old high school students. We miss them very much!

Happy you enjoyed the article and the wartime details.

Dianna Mendez on September 07, 2016:

I enjoyed your story about your dad and the details around the bombing of Japan. Your dad must have been a wonderful person to be around.