The Manhattan Project

Nancy K. Nelson's Interview

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Nancy K. Nelson's Interview

Nancy K. Nelson is the widow of Richard H. Nelson, who was the VHF radio operator on the Enola Gay on the Hiroshima atomic bombing mission. In this interview, Nelson discusses how she met her husband after the war. She describes his experience training to be a radar operator and in the 509th Composite Group. She recalls how he and other members of the missions felt about the atomic bombings. Nelson also discusses her experiences going to 509th Composite Group reunions and her husband’s friendships with General Paul Tibbets and other members of the 509th including Tom Ferebee, Dutch Van Kirk, and others. She also describes her husband’s visit to Japan and other reunions and events where he shared his wartime experience.
Manhattan Project Location(s): 
Date of Interview: 
February 21, 2017
Location of the Interview: 

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. I am in Riverside, California. It is Tuesday, February 21, 2017. I have with me Nancy Nelson. I’d like her to say her name and spell it.

Nancy Nelson: My name is Nancy Nelson, N-A-N-C-Y N-E-L-S-O-N.

Kelly: Tell me a little bit about yourself, so we can put this in context.

Nelson: Okay. I was born in a suburb of Chicago, Western Springs, lived there all of my life. I’m an only child. My dad had hay fever. He was allergic to ragweed in August, and in that part of the country, ragweed grew. He would sneeze and sneeze and sneeze, but we would go up to northern Wisconsin, and ragweed did not grow up there. We went fishing almost to the Michigan line.

We were up there on August 6th, 1945. It was pretty remote. They had outhouse. Anyway, we didn’t hear about it [the atomic bombing of Hiroshima] until two days later, and then we did hear about it. Well, that didn’t mean anything to me. I think I was thirteen. That was my first exposure with anything on the atomic bomb.

I grew up as an only child and went to school in Western Springs and LaGrange. I went to high school. Then I went off to college in ’51, and came back and I wanted a summer job. The man across the street said he could get me a job, which I got. I worked at Imperial Brass. They made brass fittings and refrigeration parts. I was just an expediter, and so I would go downstairs on the squeaky stairs to expedite, find out when the orders were going to be shipped. Off and on, I would meet Dick. If I was going down, he was coming up, or vice versa. That was my first exposure to him.

Kelly: You want to introduce him now and say his full name?

Nelson: Richard Hadine Nelson, and he always said the “H” stood for “honest,” so his name was Richard Honest Nelson. We had a few conversations, but didn’t really talk that much. I had to end about the third weekend in August, because in those days you could only make $600 and if you made more than that, your folks could not take you as a deduction.

He said, “Call me when you come home for Christmas vacation.”

I don’t know whether I said it out loud or thought, “Why don’t you call me?”

Michigan State was on quarters, so we had to have finals, and I didn’t know when finals were going to be. I called him when I got home. It was on a Tuesday. He was leaving for California on Saturday for three weeks. He said, “Let’s go out Friday night.”

“Okay,” I said. Chicago had a blizzard. They’re good on blizzards. My folks thought it would be rather stupid of him to come out in a blizzard. He was an hour late, but he came out anyway. Then we went out and had a nice dinner, came back, and he left the next day for California. I went back up to school, didn’t see or hear from him until the next summer when I went back to work at Imperial.

Then we started dating on the QT, which was kind of hard to do in an old office building like that, but we did. I would not come home Friday nights. I would stay late there at work, and then he and I would go out on a date. That went on for the summer. We had a good time and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Then I went back to school. I would come down for weekends, and he would come up to Michigan State for weekends. About Christmas, we decided that I better not work at Imperial the next summer.

I think when I came home at spring vacation, I got a job at Hills Brothers Coffee as an accountant adding up coffee sales. That wasn’t too far from Imperial, but it didn’t work out, because he got transferred to Boston as a territory. They wanted me to come back to Imperial. I said no, I made this commitment to go to Hills Brothers and I’m going to Hills Brothers.

Before he left for Boston, he wanted to know when we were going to get married. I said, “I haven’t finished college yet.”

He said, “I commuted from Chicago to Lansing. I am not commuting from Boston to Lansing.”

My folks were married October 10, and it would have been their twenty-fifth anniversary. We got married on the 10th of October, on their twenty-fifth anniversary. It pacified them a bit, but I still think they wished I had finished school. Anyway, I didn’t, and it was more important not commuting back and forth.

We got married, we went to Boston, had two apartments and then we built our house. I thought we were going to be there forever, and he got tired of that white stuff every year. He wanted to come back to California. We sold the house, quit the job. They wanted him to come back to the home office, and he did not want anything to do with politics. He had heard about the politics.

We came to California, bought a house, took over the existing mortgage, moved in in two weeks, and got the kids in school two weeks before Christmas vacation, so they could meet. We moved in the house before we had even closed escrow, which, anybody do that today? No. We lived in Palos Verdes, and my folks came out for Christmas. After they left, I said, “Don’t you think it’s time to go get a job?”  He kind of agreed with me. He got a job, and he liked his work in California.

When Susan, the youngest, graduated from high school, he started talking about land, he wanted some land. Oh wait, he started talking about it when Susan was still in high school, but he really talked about it when she graduated and went off to college. Then he had a customer in San Bernardino, and he asked Ace if he knew of any land in Riverside. “No, but my wife’s in real estate in Riverside.” Big mistake.

Here I am, moved here in ’76, been here ever since. When Dick passed away, well, in early 2000, 2001, when he was going downhill, he said, “I don’t want you living here by yourself.”

I said, “Oh, it will take me five years to get the place ready to sell.” That was seventeen years ago. I’m still hanging in here. I like it, I really do. After we got married and when we came out here in ’76, this place was a disaster. The house was a mess, the [orange] grove was even worse. We were both fulltime workers at that point.

Then we would get information about going to the 509th [Composite Group] reunions. I said, “Well, let’s go to one.”

“Nope, we won’t have a good time.” He said that when they had one in Boston.

I said, “We’ve got friends back there. We can go and see them.”

“Won’t have a good time.”

“St. Louis?”

“Won’t have a good time.” They had one in San Diego. “You won’t have a good time.” Then Disneyland, “Won’t have a good time.”

I said, “Well, we can come home if we’re not having a good time, because we’re here.” 

They were going to have one at Wendover, Utah. I said, “We’re going.” I didn’t even ask him.

But he said, “You’re not going to have a good time.”

We went. We had a marvelous time. There was no line between the officers and the enlisted men. We went to every reunion after that, and had real good times. The people were nice. It was fun seeing them just once a year from all over the country.

Then it was ’97, when Dick talked in [inaudible] and that’s where he met Forrest [Haggerty], and Forrest wanted to write the book. I said, “Fine.” Forrest would come up here after school one day a week, with a tape recorder. Dick liked to talk. He was a good talker, and they would sit on the couch here and talk for a couple of hours. Then I’d have dinner and the three of us would sit there and eat. Then they would come back here, and do some more talking. This went on for, oh, a year off and on.

Forrest wanted to go to a reunion and they were having one in Wendover, another one in Wendover. He said, “I’ll go and I’ll drive,” because Dick’s health was going downhill. We went. He had a great time, and we did, too. That was the last reunion that he went to, and that was in ’01.

Forrest didn’t really finish the book [43 Seconds to Hiroshima], and it wasn’t published until ’05. Dick never got to see the finished result, but I was happy with it. 

Kelly: If you could tell us a little bit about your husband’s childhood, where he was born, what his birthday was.

Nelson: Okay. Dick was born August 26, 1925, in Moscow, Idaho. He had an older brother and a younger sister. His folks moved to Los Angeles in ’28, ’29, and lived in southwest LA. His brother went into the service in ’39 and was a pilot. Dick wanted to be a pilot, too. He really liked planes, and wanted to fly. He graduated from high school in winter of ’43, but was only seventeen, so couldn’t enlist at that point. He went to Idaho, back up to Moscow, and went to the university there for six months. Lived with his aunt, who owned a hotel, and had steaks at least twice a week. That was during rationing, too.

He came back after that first semester and went in the service. He wanted the Air Force, so he enlisted in the Air Force, and went in in August of ’43. He went to boot camp in San Antonio. At Santa Ana, he was in cadet school.

He loved to read. He read everything. Well, he strained his eyes, and in those days, you had to have perfect vision to get in the service. So, he washed out. He was devastated, because he wouldn’t be able to fly. They sent him to radio school, and he thought, “Oh, my gosh, they overlooked it! I’m going to be in a plane now. I won’t be pilot, but I’ll be in a plane.”

He was at Cedar Falls, South Dakota, radio school. Loved it up there. I think there were about 100 in his class, and he must have finished very, very high. He loved it, he loved the “Da-dit, da-dahs.” When his class graduated, they all went to Clovis, New Mexico, which was the biggest B-29 base in the country at that point.

Everybody was assigned to a crew and a plane, but Dick wasn’t. He thought, “Oh, they have caught up with my eyes again, and I won’t be able to fly.” He sat there for about five weeks at Clovis with nothing to do, except read and go to the movies. He kept wondering, “What’s going to happen?” Finally, after five weeks or five and a half weeks, he got orders, ASAP, to go to Wendover, Utah. He took the orders to somebody there at the base. “Never heard of the 509th Composite Group. There isn’t such a thing.”

Anyway, it said ASAP, so they put him on a train. He went to Chicago first, and then west to Wendover. Wendover did not have a train station, you just stopped in the middle and got off. Everybody on the train was ground crew, and his orders didn’t have anything to do about ground crew. He showed his orders to whoever was there at the station when they got off. “Oh, you’re set for overseas. You’re the colonel’s radio man.” Oh, boy, did he feel good. The guy said, “Take this down to the radio shack.”

He took the orders down and I guess it was a sergeant there, looked at them and looked at him and said, “How many hours have you had in the air?”

“Ten at radio school.” The sergeant looked at him.

The original crew was on leave. The rest of the crew was on vacation, on leave, so Dick was put in every plane that was taking off, and for two weeks, he got all his practice in. Then the crew came back. Paul [Tibbets] had already been to Omaha to pick out the planes, the fifteen special planes that were built for Tinian. The crew went and picked up the planes and came back.

I think it was about the 25th of June that they went overseas to Tinian. They flew some practice runs over Japan with actual bombs, but weighing the same weight. They would fly over at 30,000 feet, and then drop the TNT and then go back. They did four of those before the big one.

There were still Japanese on Tinian, way at the other end, and they were just told not to go down there, to stay away. There were other B-29 groups on Tinian. They sang some kind of a song, because they could not get close to the 509th part of the island. That was special, that was MPs and so on and so forth.

Dick really only flew the one mission with Paul and Dutch [Van Kirk] and Tom [Ferebee]. They bumped the original pilot, navigator, and bombardier. I think there were a few hard feelings about that. Tom and Dutch and Paul had flown together overseas in Europe. Paul had a very big career over there. 

Anyway, he flew from England, and he flew Eisenhower down to North Africa when they were getting ready for the invasion. Over there, Dutch Van Kirk and Tom Ferebee flew with Paul. They had some stories on North Africa, too. That’s when Paul got called back to the States, was after the North Africa part, to test the B-29 that was having some flaws and having some hard times getting airborne. 

He came back, and then Dutch Van Kirk and Tom Ferebee came back with him. 

Tom, Dutch, and Paul only flew one mission with Dick, or Dick only flew one mission with them. That was the big one. They came back after the mission. They dropped the bomb, dropped the nose and made a 160-degree turn to the right with the nose down to get away from the bomb. They were to be eleven miles away, and I think they were eleven or thirteen, one of the two. They got away and the tail gunner, Bob Caron, had a camera and he took the only picture of the bomb, because the camera ship couldn’t get the bomb bays open to get the camera to work. They came back, they dropped the nose down and made their turn, and came back to Tinian and landed. There was a big party. There was more brass there.

I’ll go back, because after they dropped the bomb, they had to send a message. Well, the radio operator had to send the message. 

They sent a message back, a coded message that said, “Results good.” Then they started talking about—well, Tom was upset because he missed the target by 200 feet. On a bomb like that, 200 feet isn’t anything. They figured they had better change it. Then he sent another message, “Results excellent.” All right. Now, they had two messages, “good” and “excellent.” So, who is going to believe what? So, they decided to send a third message, and the third message said, “Results excellent.” So, there’s two “excellents” and a “good.”

Actually, on the run going over to Hiroshima, Dick was reading a paperback book, because there wasn’t much for him to do, as far as the radio goes. They had to keep silence. He was very calm, cool and collected, reading his paperback book. He read on trips like—six and a half hours one-way, that’s a long time to sit and do nothing.

Kelly: What was his book?

Nelson: I knew at one point. It was about a boxer named Willie Carter. Oh, well. Anyway, they got back and a lot of brass was there from the Manhattan Project. The crew members, the ground crew and everybody, all those fifteen plane crew members were having a beer party. Of course, the crew of the Enola Gay couldn’t. They had to go and be debriefed. They all got a drink of liquor, because it makes them relax. There were more colonels and I guess captains and I think there were a few generals there, too, at the debriefing. After they were debriefed, then they got to go and have their liquor, too.

The Japanese did not capitulate then, so three days later there was Nagasaki. Then after that, they only had the two bombs, but they had a third one back in the States. It was shipped from Wendover to San Francisco, and then they were going to put it on the boat and send it down. But they capitulated before that happened, which was good.

Then Dutch and Tom and Paul and Bob Lewis, who was co-pilot, all came back to New York and had a ticker-tape parade. Dick and the rest of the crew stayed with the plane on Tinian from August to—oh, golly, there was some animosity here in the States about dropping the bombs. So, they didn’t bring the plane back until the middle of November. Then the original crew brought the plane back to Roswell, New Mexico. That’s where Dick was discharged. He was there for a week and got discharged, and got the train and got home the day after Thanksgiving.

Kelly: What was the animosity? You said there was a ticker-tape parade?

Nelson: In New York.

Kelly: In New York, but Dick didn’t come back right away, because animosity—

Nelson: A lot of people in the States did not agree with dropping the bombs. So, they decided to keep the plane over there. They didn’t want anything to happen to the plane. That’s why it was there for three months. Then it went to Chicago to O’Hare Field, and sat there for quite a while until the Smithsonian got ahold of it.

The Smithsonian flew it back—I’m trying to get my dates straight on this—it went into storage. They took it apart and they had boxes from floor to ceiling with named, what part was this, what part was that. I know, I’ve been there, because I saw it when they were putting it back together. It sat there for a long time, like from 1970s to early ‘90s, and then they put it back together for the fiftieth anniversary at the Smithsonian, which was on the Mall at that point. That building was not very big at all. All they could use was the fuselage, and they had tail markings on the wall and a propeller on the wall. That was all that that Smithsonian would hold.

At that point, more people went to that exhibit than any other exhibit at the Smithsonian, and this was in ’95. Because they figured there were going to be a lot of people showing up, the Greenwich Workshop made a sixteen-minute film. It had Tom Ferebee, Paul Tibbets, Dutch Van Kirk, Dick Nelson, and Bob Caron, the tail gunner, they were all in it. The people had to stand in line, but they could watch it while they waited to get in and see the exhibit. After they came out of the exhibit, they could sit down in chairs and see it again, which I thought was very good. You put it more together. We went to Wendover numerous times between ’90 and ’95 to do filming. A lot of the filming was done at Wendover for this sixteen-minute thing at the Smithsonian.

After that, we started going to all the reunions and having a very good time, because there was no distinction between the enlisted men and the officers. Dick would talk around here, and I always had to go with him and sit in the front row. If he didn’t remember something, I could generally fill him in on it, which was fun.

Then we would meet Dutch Van Kirk, because he lived in the San Francisco area. We went to Castle Air Force [Base]. He came down here, and we went to March [Air Reserve Base], and we’ve been to [Marine Corps Air Station] Yuma. We went to a lot of places together.

Then the Iwo Jima survivors in Wichita Falls, Texas, wanted us to come. So, we went there every year for five or six years. We met a lot of interesting people, we really did. Everybody was so nice. The bases that we were at, the kids were very tolerant and were very interested in what the Enola Gay crew had done.

Then Dick started going downhill. He had COPD. He smoked, like everybody else smoked back in the war, too. He tried speaking as much as he could, but it was hard on him. He was on oxygen. In ’01 was the last reunion, and that was back up at Wendover. Forrest, who wrote the book, said he would drive us up there. We went up and he really had a good time, signing, more picture signing and book signing. It was all done in the hangar that the Enola Gay was housed in at Wendover. I guess they are still remodeling it, but they have got it almost done. You probably know more about that than I do.

He passed away, 2/1/03, at 3:00 a.m., which was three hours before the astronauts [on the Space Shuttle Columbia] were killed on reentry. Forrest, who wrote the book, he was talking at Dick’s memorial, said that they wanted some very nice man to greet them at the Pearly Gates, and that was Dick Nelson.

That’s about it, unless you have questions to ask me about something I haven’t covered.

Kelly: When Dick was speaking, was he ever asked how he felt about being part of dropping the bomb on Japan?

Nelson: Oh, yeah. He never hesitated at all. He said, “I was doing my job.” If things were the same now as they were then, he would do it again. But he said, “Things are not the same.” No, he really was all for it in those days, at that time. Because if we invaded Japan, it would have been disaster. They had kids in caves dug out at the seashore, and their seashore was pretty rocky. Teenagers with spears to do the killing when the guys landed. No, more people would have been killed in an invasion than what the A-bomb did, and that’s a real fact. No, he never worried about it at all. He was doing his job and it was something that had to be done. It did end the war. It took the Japanese military a few days to realize it, but they finally realized it.

The kids that were in the service really appreciated talking to him. They were good speakers, and they were down to earth. They didn’t play up any role of it. In fact, lots of places, parents would bring their kids, and Dick and Dutch loved talking to the kids. They would hold up the whole line just so they could, you know, the kids could ask them questions. They would sign pictures for the kids.

I had a very interesting life. I’ve met a lot of interesting people. I think maybe this reunion in ’17 is going to be the last one. But it’s going to be in New Orleans. I hope it’s not the last one, but I got kind of a feeling it’s going to be. Things can’t go on forever. You can hope they did.

Kelly: Did he ever express any fear? I mean, this was a mission that was untried, bringing an atomic bomb?

Nelson: He was reading his paperback on the way over. No, he never had any fear at all, because he knew he was doing his job. That’s it. In fact, the whole crew felt that way. Of course, they really didn’t know what it was going to be like. They always have a briefing before they take off, and they were supposed to see film from Alamogordo, where they did the test. But the camera didn’t work, so all they could see were some still shots. Well, when the bomb exploded and that mushroom went up as fast and high as it did, maybe if they had known that, they might have had a little apprehension. That’s why they put the nose down and made the 160-degree turn.

They were told what to do, and there weren’t any problems with the plane, with the flying or anything, not like with Bockscar. They had their problems, but they got back okay, too. So, no, he never had any apprehension at all. No, he was calm, cool and collected. Of course, he always said, “I was too young to get worried.” He was only twenty years and four months. Now, somebody that age nowadays doing something like that? I don’t think so. They would have to at least be twenty-one.

Kelly: You said that they switched the entire crew, or something like that?

Nelson: Oh, the pilot of the original crew, Bob Lewis, it was Bob Lewis’s plane. He was pilot. No, he was airplane commander. The original pilot [Richard McNamara], I can’t remember the names, was eliminated and Paul took his place. Bob Lewis became co-pilot, and the co-pilot was bumped. Navigator and bombardier on the original crew were replaced by Tom Ferebee and Dutch Van Kirk. But everybody else was the same. They had an extra radar man on plane.

The plane was not armed until they were in the air, because they did not want the plane to go into the ocean and have a bad takeoff and blow up Tinian. It was armed over Iwo Jima, before they pressurized. Deak Parsons was a Navy commander, and he was on the plane. There were three extras, Deak Parsons, Jake Beser, and Morris Jeppson, and Morris was his assistant. It armed well and the plane, nobody fell through the—you know, open up the bomb bay doors and there’s not much down there, except air. But everything went fine.

Dick was reading his book. While that all went on, I don’t think I would be, but he had only flown four other missions. This was just his fifth mission over Japan, and everything else went fine. He was not one to get worried.

Kelly: Did he fly any other missions after that?

Nelson: One. They took every B-29 in the area, on Saipan and Tinian, and flew about—let’s see, the 6th, the 9th, it must have been the 10th or the 11th, they flew all these B-29s over Japan and dropping bombs, thinking that “Why haven’t the Japanese surrendered? Why haven’t they quit?” Then it was after that, that they did quit. Whether that had anything to do with it, or whether the hierarchy in Japan just finally decided, “It’s not going to work.” Never did find out that one.

Kelly: Those flights would have been after the Nagasaki bomb?

Nelson: Yes.

Kelly: But before the surrender?

Nelson: Yeah.

Kelly: Those five days.

Nelson: Yeah. Then they called it quits.

Kelly: Have you or your husband been to Japan?

Nelson: Dick went. I never did. This was like in ’88. The BBC wanted to do filming over there. Let’s see, who went? Dutch, Tom or Paul, they didn’t go, and I don’t know why. Dick said he would go. Jim Van Pelt, they wanted him to go, but he had had a heart attack, so he couldn’t go. Chuck Sweeney went, George Marquardt went. George was pilot of the third—of the camera plane on the Hiroshima mission, and his son went, too. Let me see, that was Dick, Chuck. I can’t remember, Fred somebody. Anyway, there were five of them, and about fifteen camera people from England, all going over there.

They went to the hospital, which was ground zero. The T Bridge was supposed to be ground zero, but they kind of missed it by 200 feet. They hit the hospital, and they went to the hospital. The doctor that was there was the son of the doctor that was on duty when they first were there. They wanted to be quiet. They didn’t want them to know who it was that was there filming. But somebody opened their big mouth and said, “This is the crew of the Enola Gay,” and the doctor jumped up and down. He was so glad to see them. It was kind of a turnaround.

They had a tour guide, a Japanese tour guide, who took them around. The city had been rebuilt, you would never know it’d been bombed like it was. They had a real good time. Everybody treated them nice that knew who they were. That was in ’89.

They had to take malaria pills, which are like a horse pill. Dick took, I think he had to take a couple before he left. He got sicker than a dog coming back over, on the plane coming back. They just didn’t know what was wrong with him. Well, it was a reaction to the horse pills. He came back, recuperated, enjoyed it. Never went back after that, but there really wasn’t any reason to. We were too busy taking care of this place.

I think that takes care about Hiroshima. Dutch and Tom and Bob Lewis, they went over after the droppings. They were part of the—what do you call it when the crew goes in to take over a country? They were part of that for a week or so. They went back way back then, but I don’t think they went back after that.

Kelly: Did you ever hear them talk about their reaction, after seeing the results of the bomb firsthand?

Nelson: I don’t know if I ever heard that conversation. I’m sure they talked about it. I mean, it would be hard not to, being there in it. I don’t know.

They probably were glad that they didn’t have to do any more bombing, because that was pretty much devastated. They say Nagasaki, they missed the target by, oh, 600 feet or something. The terrain was different, too, because Hiroshima, it exploded 1800 feet above ground, and then devastation went this way. They didn’t want it going into a hole in the ground and that hole kept going down, down, down. The devastation was because of the going sideways.

Kelly: What advice do you have for future generations with respect to the use of atomic weapons?

Nelson: They use atomic energy now in a good way. If they can still continue doing it in a good way, that’s good. But no more bombing. That’s no good. The world knows it’s no good, because we don’t want to end the world. If too many people start using it, well, they’re talking about doing it now. I think people have to think twice. We have to learn how to live together peacefully, which doesn’t sound too good the way things are now, does it? This world is kind of in a mess, but you just have to make the best of what you can do.

Kelly: Some things we haven’t talked about that we should get you to discuss—were there any other comments you want to make about the other members of the crew, what they were like?

Nelson: Dick joined the crew so late. After 1990, I insisted we go to that first reunion at Wendover, then we went to all the reunions. Dick and Dutch, they got along fine together. They would just tease each other, and try to outdo one another. Paul was more reserved. Tom was a lot of fun. They all were a lot of fun.

A couple of them died, like [Joseph] Stiborik and [Robert] Shumard, they died early. But nobody died of radiation. There was a rumor going around that the crew was going to die of radiation. There was no radiation, because they weren’t in it. It was only the ones on the ground. 

When we were in Boston, a doctor from Japan brought the Hiroshima maidens over for cosmetic surgery. I don’t know if you remember that. I think he was a minister maybe, and he brought them over. He went to Boston and spoke, I think, at a congregational church in Boston. Dick was asked to go in and meet him, which he did do. I didn’t go. He enjoyed meeting him. He could speak English, and they had a nice conversation together. I had forgotten about that.

Then the Iwo Jima reunions we would go to, because they were so glad—Iwo Jima fight was horrible—and they were glad to see the Enola Gay people, so they wouldn’t have to go on to Japan.

One of Dick’s close friends was in the Navy, and he was over in the Philippines, and he was getting ready to ship to Japan. Then he heard about the bomb. Boy, he was thankful he could come home. Then he got a letter from his mom, saying that Dick was on the plane. He said, “I didn’t know he had anything to do with it.”

He came back after the war, and he was wined and dined in LA a lot. He had to write a paper when he was going to SC, and it was about his war experience. The classroom was just in awe on the whole thing. Not a word was said, and then another girl had to go up and give hers. He said, “I felt so sorry for her, because she couldn’t do anything to upstage me.”

I’ve spoken, I think, about six years, this will probably be the seventh—Martin Luther King High School here in Riverside, has a Veterans Day. All the veterans come and then they break up the classes with—it’s the seniors. I have four or five kids that I talk to every year. Different, you know, everybody, and it’s grown. It’s not just World War II, because there are very few of us, but then all the other wars.

It’s interesting, and the kids enjoy it. I think they’ve done it for eighteen years, and it’s still going. In fact, Corona has picked up doing on it now, too. I’ve got that coming up in March. Then they want me—I don’t know why, I’ve been out of this for so long—but I think maybe I’ll be in a parade on Veterans Day, which is November.

I’ve got my 2300 trees to take care of, and twenty avocados. I’m very happy where I am.