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What was the greatest tragedy that occurred on US soil during World War ll?
It depends on what is considered U.S. soil. The Phillipines were a U.S. protectorate, I think, so I would say the Bataan death march was the worst tragedy. Wake Island is U.S. soil, so the slaughter of the Wake island defenders by the Japanese was also a great tragedy.
Sadly, more than a few to choose from. Came down to redlining and the Japanese-American internment, settled on the internment, but not easy to choose given the longterm devastation to minority communities thanks to Redlining policies.
To me the greatest tragedy occored on May 5, 1945 when a Japanese balloon bomb exploded on a mountain near the town of Bly, Oregon killing 6 people 5 of them were children ranging in age from 11 to 15. The 6th was a preachers wife who was 8 months pregnant. These children were all my school mates and I had been invited to go on the fishing/picnic but my mother refused to let me go. She never could explain way she felt that way. I wrote about the incident titled My Mother’s Premonition in a book I published titled The Way We Were, Growing Up in a Small Oregon Town during the 1930’s – 1950’s.
This is the only place on the Continental United States that any death resulted from enemy action during World War II. For more information on the subject go to JAPANESE BALLOON BOMB INCIDENT on your search engine.
Chuck in Montana
If you were in Bly in 1945, we also lived there my oldest brother Bobbie Burk was to go on the fishing/picnic also but had come down very sick and mom kept him home that day, we go the Gearhart MT when we come back to Oregon and visit the area, such a beautiful place, our brother Bobbie now rest on Gearhart Mt as we lost him in 2000. Thank you for your write up.
The Japanese-American Internment
I almost agree with Darryl. Only thing to add is that, contrary to common knowledge, Italians and Germans received the same treatment in the southeast of the country.
I vote for the Port Chicago, CA explosion in 1944. 320 workers killed instantly when munitions exploded at the pier.
This, is the best you guys can do?
To me, such replies show a lack of real knowledge of the war, and are very shallow.
Port Chicago? How about Port Pearl Harbor?
Internment? How about the internment of Allied civilians across the Pacific? I don’t recall anyone setting up a “comfort” house using interred Japanese for GIs at the U.S. internment camps or massacring nurses near Singapore.
Any one see a concentration camp in Utah? Where are the chimneys that supported U.S. death camps? There aren’t any.
Destroying the minority communities in the U.S? Anyone recall the Japanese living in Denver, or Chicago, or New York being interred during the war? Didn’t happen.
The balloon attacks? Fugo? Six dead when nearly ten times that were killed at Pearl harbor.
How’s about Johnny stubbing his toe during the war out picking up scrap metal?
The Bataan Death March? As a former soldier, these guys knew what they were signing on for when they joined up. Not one of them has ever said they regret their service.
The worst tragedy to happen in World War Two on U.S. soil was leaving such a great legacy to be destroyed by the generations to follow.
VERY GOOD, Dwight
Around noon on July 1, 1942, a former American Airlines flagship converted into a troop transport for the war crashed into a hillside near Welch in southern West Virginia. After skidding 200 yards what was left of the plane stopped in, ironically, a Victory Garden. All 21 of the passengers and crew perished.
While I wouldn’t call this the worst tragedy on American soil during WWII, it is one that has been forgotten, and I mention it in memory of all those who died in military-related air crashes across America during the war.
Milligan, Nebraska, has three monuments honoring the 32 (total) airmen who died in three crashes near the airbase there. http://www.yorknewstimes.com/articles/2010/08/17/news/doc4c6a0935c97f0881386387.txt
The question was a bit vague in hindsight. It is intended to explore what happened on the home front of the US during the war, not the obvious battles like Pearl Harbor, Bataan, etc. The answers above should not be seen as a reflection of our readers’ lack of understanding of history, but instead a lack of good question formation on the part of HistoryNet staff.
You are right the question was a bit vague. I submitted the question at the suggestion of the HistoryNet Staff since they weren’t coming up with any of their own recently. I should have asked what tragedy occurred on the U.S. mainland. The government issued the statement… The only known fatalities on the U.S mainland from enemy attack during World War II,”
To a 12 year old boy like me it was tragic to go to the funerals of my close friends. Two of them were brother and sister. They are buried in Klamath Falls, Oregon along with another boy. The two boys are buried in their Boy Scout Uniforms. They are buried next to another brother who was killed in a B17 in Germany a few months earlier. This family lost three children to the war in just a few short months.
It tears me to hear someone like Dwight put this down.
In the future, if I am asked to submit a question I will try to be more specific.
To me it will always be a tragic incident that I will never forget. I thank my Mother for not letting me attend the outing.
Chuck in Montana
I am researching EXACTLY this question…I am selling an archive containing various correspondence including numerous Congressional letters concerning an ARMY B39 (out of Liberal, Kansas) crash that occured on the farm of O.H. Hatfield (former Kansas State Representive and County Head of National Republican Committee) which killed Mr. Hatfield, his infant Grandson and 10 member crew of the B-39. His wife, Kittie Hatfield and daughter, Mrs. Dean Settles were found in the middle of the road by a good samaritan and taken to the hospital in Dodge City. The archive I have commences in October 1944 and continues until 1947 with various letters and telegrams informing Mrs. Hatfield that the bill “H.R. 1736” was headed to the President’s desk for his signature.
In 2008-09, I offered the archive to the Kansas State Historical Society who disclosed that they had never heard of this crash. I did find an eBook that had short stories on a number of forgotten crashes, where this one was included.
What I am attempting to determine is the ranking of this crash – I consider it to be an Army Aircraft Crash on home soil (48 contiguous states) or “Friendly Fire” aircraft accident that involved civilian death.
The greatest tragedy in the history of America was the Civil War. The reason I rank this higher than 9/11 or WW2 is because 1, 9/11 had some 2,000 deaths, The civil war had 600,000. 2, in WW2 we united as a country to aid the war effort, and we were fighting against a foreign power. 3, We outright FAILED as a country to do what we are suppose to have a true genius for, and that is to negotiate and compromise. The primary people responsible for this were THE FOUNDING FATHERS! They established this country with slavery intact, even though they knew it was wrong. As a result, we made bloody war on ourselves for 4 years. aside from the liberation of the slaves, the war had absolutely NO redeeming qualities.
Agreed, the Civil War was horrific. Reading Whitman’s account of his time in a field-hospital – making friends with wounded soldiers only to have them die suddenly weeks later, doing his best for obviously doomed men, seeing piles of severed limbs stacked like firewood – it’s deeply unsettling. The photographs that were taken at the time also make for grim viewing.
The question was specifically about events during WW2, though.
By the time I caught my error I was too late. :P
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