November 2017 Readers' Letters | HistoryNet MENU
Japanese representatives arrive aboard USS Missouri during the surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2, 1945. Visitors to the ship can stand on the very same deck boards.

November 2017 Readers’ Letters

By HistoryNet Staff
10/2/2017 • Military History, MH Letters

Tokyo Bay
Great article by Michael D. Hull [“Payoff in Tokyo Bay,” September 2017]. However, the last sentence, in which he states that visitors to Missouri can stand on “the same teak-covered quarterdeck” where World War II ended, is somewhat misleading. The original planking from the deck where the surrender of Japan took place was cut from Missouri and is displayed on the wall at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Va.

James R. Recker
Indianapolis, Ind.

Editor responds: In 1999 USS Missouri opened as a museum ship [ussmissouri.org] at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, within sight of the USS Arizona Memorial. A plaque marks the spot on the surrender deck atop which Allied and Japanese representatives signed the surrender documents, ending World War II. While the MacArthur Memorial [macarthurmemorial.org] proudly displays a replica of the plaque and planking, Missouri retains “the same teak-covered quarterdeck” from that historic Sunday, Sept. 2, 1945.

American Sieges
Interesting article on sieges in American history [“On the Inside Under Fire,” by Ron Soodalter, July 2017]. Putting the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga on display around the port of Boston was a brilliant maneuver, but the author failed to disclose there was absolutely no shot or powder available for those cannons. In other words, it was a gargantuan bluff.

Richard Gearon
Tucson, Ariz. 

Editor responds: You’re absolutely right about the gunpowder shortage in Boston, a crisis precipitated in part by British Lt. Gen. Thomas Gage’s confiscation of supplies from a powder house in Charlestown prior to the outbreak of hostilities. But part of the brilliance of Colonel Henry Knox’s retrieval of cannons from Ticonderoga was his simultaneous transport of the powder and shot to arm the guns. Thus a very willing George Washington was finally able to threaten the British with actual action, albeit limited to the supplies he had on hand.

Khomeini
[Re. “444 Days in Hell, March 2017:] Ron Soodalter describes Ayatollah Khomeini as a “scholarly, charismatic individual who combined an appreciation of ancient Persian poetry with a thorough knowledge of, and devotion to, the Quran.” Quoting writer Eugene Solomon, he continues the description of Khomeini’s personality as exuding “a captivating moral urgency and prophetic power.”

This is quite a benign description for an individual who imposed an 8th century theocracy on a modern nation. The entire world now sees the morality of his vision.

Oren Johnson
Decatur, Ga.

Yank in the SS
When I picked up the January 2017 issue and read the article “A Yank in the SS,” by Ron Soodalter, it literally sent a cold shiver down my spine. It is the first time I had ever seen a public acknowledgement of my father’s World War II outfit, the U.S. Army Air Forces 354th Air Service Squadron, a small and very specified unit of 385 men. Any mention of the organization typically eludes most common web searches. Your article helped me understand more clearly the 354th’s role in the war.

It’s unfortunate, however, the information received comes in the context of a person (Martin Monti does not deserve the word American, soldier or man) defecting to the Nazis. Having met a number of the 354th servicemen through multiple war reunions, I am positive each and every one of them would have stopped this perpetrator through whatever means possible had they known his intentions.

That said, my father once shared a story about lack of security: He had suffered a broken bone in an air raid in North Africa. Before rejoining his unit, he was well enough to walk with crutches and attended the Casablanca Conference. Needless to say, an enlisted man’s presence shows a certain laxness, but he recalled that at least one local man with camel in tow pretty much walked right up to the high-ranking participants. I remember him saying, “Now if that guy was a German, history would have been changed.”

Douglas Holste
Greendale, Wis.

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