Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holy Shit, Tsutomu Yamaguchi!

Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Let me tell you the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Mr. Yamaguchi was a 29-year-old designer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1945 when he took a three month Summer business trip. To Hiroshima. You may recognize that as a pretty nasty place to be in the Summer of 1945.

On August 6th, the day he was supposed to leave the city, Tsutomu was on his way to the train station when he realized he had forgotten his travel papers. So he went back into the city to get them (ruh roh). As he was approaching his office, he heard the sound of a single American B-29 bomber and saw two small parachutes descending from the sky. Then he saw a flash that left him temporarily blind and heard an enormous explosion that ruptured both of his eardrums.
Hiroshima ground level
Like this, but at half the distance.

Yes, that bomber was the Enola Gay (snort), and those two small parachutes softened the descent of the atomic bomb known as Little Boy - the first to ever be used against people. Yamaguchi was roughly 3km away from Ground Zero. He survived with severe burns and crawled to a bomb shelter, where he was treated. The next day, he found his colleagues and got the hell out of the fiery inferno of a city, making his way back to the comfort of his home.

In Nagasaki.
Statue of Facepalming
"God damn it."

Two days later, Yamaguchi was back at work. His supervisor asked him to describe the explosion and -- I'm not making this up -- in the middle of his description, he would have been able to point toward a window and say, "Actually, it looked exactly like that."
Once again, like this but much closer.

For at that very moment the slightly lesser known bomber Bockscar dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on the poor guy's home city. The kicker? Tsutomu Yamaguchi's workplace was 3km from ground zero. Again.

This time he suffered no new injuries, but his old ones got infected when medical supplies became scarce. Still, he survived. When I say "survived," I mean damn did he give death the finger. He went bald temporarily and was constantly bandaged for several years, but for the most part he lived a healthy, productive life. A life full of activism for nuclear disarmament, because Jesus, why wouldn't it be?

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the man who survived the only two atomic attacks in history, lived to be 93 freaking years old. He died of stomach cancer in January 2010, almost 65 years after he was double-nuked.

Holy shit.

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