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Posts Tagged ‘Alvin Peachman’

How my 93 yr. old history teacher, who survived a deadly kamikaze attack in the spring of 1945, got to address the Japanese people on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II.

Mr. Alvin Peachman, Nov. 2014, out for his daily walk. Photo by Mike Nicholson, HFHS Class of 1979.

Mr. Alvin Peachman, Nov. 2014, out for his daily walk. Photo by Mike Nicholson, HFHS Class of 1979.

Be sure to come out and see us at the first author event- yes, Mr. Peachman will be there, too. He has TWO chapters in the book.

August 8th, 1-4 pm
The Village Booksmith.
223 Main St, Hudson Falls, NY 12839
(518) 747-3261

As the book  ‘The Things Our Fathers Saw ‘ went to press, I was contacted by the Japan’s largest news wire service, “with over 50 million subscribers worldwide, publishing articles in Japanese, English, Chinese and in Korean…” They wanted a veteran’s “reflections as we approach the 70th anniversary of the double bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (which he offers in the book, Chapter 13, ‘The Kamikazes’). So, seventy years after the war, Mr. Peachman got to address the Japanese people. The story is not out yet, but I just called him to ask him how it went.

Mr. Peachman: “It was very nice, the reporter was happy to speak to me. I told her, ‘I hope you have an hour or two.’ We had many things in common- I had traveled to Japan several times after the war, and we knew of the same places. I told her, you can’t say that you feel the same as you did, 70 years later. During World War II, the Japanese would fight to the death. I honestly felt that the bomb was necessary to end the war, though I feel that President Roosevelt made a mistake by demanding unconditional surrender. And I have questions about how and when the bomb was used. But make no mistake, the coming land invasion of Japan would have been a bloodbath.”

From the book:

 ‘I Lost Many Friends’


Matthew Rozell: So what did you think about the atomic bomb?

Best thing that ever happened to us. If it wouldn’t have been for the atomic bomb, I think we would have had a catastrophic amount of men killed, and probably the elimination of the Japanese nation as a whole. It would have been a terrible thing to conquer. I think it did a great deal in helping to save a million or two men, as well as the Japanese. I believe Harry Truman was a wonderful president in that regard; he really did a great favor to us. But I do not understand why we had to wait so long to figure things out! We shouldn’t have gone into Okinawa if we knew we had the atomic bomb because in Okinawa, we had 50,000 casualties! Our whole division was hit, except for the Wilmarth, as I told you. Two hundred and fifty ships were hit at Okinawa by kamikazes. The day we got hit, 26 ships got hit, and six were sunk to the bottom! I believe the Japanese had over 500 aircraft against us that day, suicide aircraft. Have you ever been startled by a partridge suddenly trying to fly into you? It is really a scary thing! Although you weren’t thinking of it at the time, it was a scary thing that these people would give up their lives like that. It was the most Navy lives lost in one battle. I lost many friends.

Destroyer Escort USS WITTER undergoing repairs following kamikaze attack. Alvin Peachman collection.

Destroyer Escort USS WITTER undergoing repairs
following kamikaze attack. Alvin Peachman collection.

As the land battle for Okinawa raged toward its crescendo with the fury of a storm, the kamikaze attacks would claim over 15,000 American casualties for the Navy alone.

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In 2003, I set out to interview a retiree living on the quiet boulevard leading up to our high school. I sat on his backporch with him for a few hours on a late spring afternoon. Born in 1922, he was in the Navy, serving as a radioman on a destroyer escort, and he seemed to be everywhere in the Pacific during World War II. Like John A. Leary, he also spent a great deal of time supporting the Marines, and saw his first action in the South Pacific in the reduction of the massive Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain.

Mr. Peachman turned 93 this past March. He was my high school history teacher.

 

Alvin Peachman

From “The Things Our Fathers Saw” by Matthew Rozell.

From “The Things Our Fathers Saw” by Matthew Rozell.

 

 

You can view a book preview at the Amazon site. Available in digital and paperback format. Book can also be purchased at http://matthewrozell.com/order-the-things-our-fathers-saw/

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 Book Description: At the height of World War II, LOOK Magazine profiled an upstate New York community for a series of articles portraying it as the wholesome, patriotic model of life on the home front. Seventy years later, a high school history teacher and his students track down over two dozen veterans residing around ‘Hometown, USA’ who fought the war in the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to the surrender at Tokyo Bay. They resurrect firsthand accounts of combat and brotherhood, of captivity and redemption, and the aftermath of a war that left no community unscathed. Here are the stories that the magazine could not tell, from a special generation of Americans speaking to the youth of America today.  270 pages.

About the Author: Matthew Rozell’s teaching career is now spanning 4 decades, beginning as a quiet kid returning to teach in his own hometown to being recognized as a national History Teacher of the Year and as a recipient of a national Medal for History Education. Rozell is a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow, has had his lessons filmed for NBC Learn, and has even been chosen as the ABC World News Person of the Week. He is also a recipient of several state and local awards for history education. He writes on the power of teaching and the importance of the study of history at his website,teachinghistorymatters.com.

He can be reached at marozell at gmail dot com.

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