1. #1
    Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice

    A unique account of the second atomic-bomb mission

    Video link: http://www.edefenseonline.com/static...aki%20Full.wmv

    Text link:

    Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice
    A unique account of the second atomic-bomb mission

    by Michael Puttré
    Mar. 17, 2006

    In January 2002, I had the privilege of interviewing Maj. Gen. Charles Sweeney, USAF (ret.), commander of the Nagasaki atomic-bomb mission on August 9, 1945. General Sweeney, who passed away in 2004, was the father-in-law of JED and eDefense publisher Charles Boyd, who arranged what was for me an historic opportunity. JED, The Journal of Electronic Defense, has a section called "First Person...Singular," where veterans describe their experiences in their own words. My job was to get General Sweeney's recollections from almost 60 years previously, when he was a 25-year-old major leading one of the most important missions in US history. From the roughly hour-and-a-half of audio tape, I assembled a narrative of the preparations for and conduct of the atomic-bomb attacks on Japan that contributed greatly, if not definitively, to the end of the Pacific War. The article was published in JED in March 2002. You can read it here.

    Some time later, it occurred to me that an audio recording of General Sweeney, the last made before his death, would be of historical interest. At the time, I had been dabbling in home-video editing, as many new fathers are wont to do, and had really taken a shine to it. I thought that I might be able to integrate selections of General Sweeney's account with appropriate imagery to produce a short documentary feature on the Nagasaki mission. I contacted Los Alamos National Labs (LANL), and Broadcast Media Specialist John Bass of LANL public affairs provided me with footage of the Nagasaki attack, as well as footage of flight tests of the modified Boeing B-29 Superfortresses that would be used on the atomic-bomb missions. I also collected digital photographs from the US National Archives, US Air Force, Boeing, and other sources. Since I wasn't able to get out to the US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, to film "Bock's Car," the B-29 that flew the Nagasaki mission, I used the opportunity of a trip to Washington, DC, to shoot some video at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Annex of the "Enola Gay," which flew the Hiroshima mission.

    The sound track bears mentioning, particularly the choral pieces "Coventry Carol" and "Agnus Dei" performed by the Santa Barbara Quire of Voices. I have to admit that I became acquainted with the Quire while playing the computer space strategy game Homeworld, published by Sierra Entertainment in 1999. One of the game's chapters featured the survivors a world-destroying attack coming to grips with their plight, and the background score was the sad/beautiful "Agnus Dei," which is a choral arrangement of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." I could think of no better piece of music for the coda of my documentary, and Nathan J. Kreitzer, founder and artistic director of the Santa Barbara Quire of Voyces, graciously gave me permission to use the piece, as well as "Coventry Carol." The latter is a beautiful work in its own right, a mournful lullaby about the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, and in my mind, it evoked the bombing of that English city by the German Luftwaffe in November 1940, the first time a city was devastated by incendiaries.

    Both "Agnus Dei" and "Coventry Carol" from the album Illuminations. You can buy the album here, as well as read the liner notes. You can find out more about the Santa Barbara Quire of Voices here.

    I had wanted to have the documentary finished for the 60th anniversary of the Nagasaki mission, but alas, the learning curve was steeper than I had imagined. I finally took a rough cut of my film down to my public-access TV station in Franklin, MA, which aired it throughout the month of November 2005. Steve Russo, the station's coordinator, suggested I submit the work for the 27th Telly Awards, an annual industry award for film and video. "Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice" won a Bronze award.

    If you want to comment on the video, please do so here at this mirror post on the Situational Awareness blog. I welcome your thoughts and criticisms.

    For more information on the Nagasaki mission and the situation at the time, I recommend the following sources:


    Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association, Inc. (MPHPA)

    The 509th Composite Group


    War's End
    Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, USAF (ret.), with James A. Antonucci and Marion K. Antonucci
    Avon Books, 1997

    Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
    Richard Frank
    Random House, 1999
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  2. #2
    Very nice. Very interesting stuff especially the calculations put forth on if the zero could attack at those altitudes. Good work.
    Also, you live in Mass, or did you visit for the interview? Good to know another New Englander around here. Im from RI.
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  3. #3
    The movie was not mine - i'm just posting it. Its from www.edefenseonline.com I was born in Jersey and grew up in southwestern CT. Flew out to RI a lot though, mostly Block from Bridgeport.

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  4. #4
    310th Falcon's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    San Antonio Texas
    thanks for sharing Wofala. Nice found!
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  5. #5
    Thank you for you interest. I'm the author of "Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice," and I do live in Massachusetts.

    Now that eDefense Online has been shut down, you see the film here:

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  6. #6

    I really enjoyed reading your articles on ED and JED when it was in operation. It helped me in my work out at the Naval Post Graduate School immensely, especially when it delt with C4ISR and Manpads.

    Just wish there was a outlet like that where I wouldn't have to go over to a Janes to get the same quality analysis and perspective. Yr April 05 article on Helicopter vulnerabilities was especially relevant, since the CH-47 shot down in November 2003 was piloted by a close friend of mine Lt. Brian Slavenas.

    All the best,

    Alexander Wolf
    U.S. Naval Post Graduate School
    Global Information Architecture
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  7. #7
    Great work, Wolf!

    Now I'm understanding why you missed the last month trining sessions of our Squadron, the Hell's Devils!

    But for sure it was worth the time you worked on such interesting stuff.

    May I suggest to put a link to your work in our Forum, too. It will be a honor for us.
    Hope to see you flying again with us, and returning to your duties as Operations Officer, M8!

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  8. #8
    sorry guys both links are dead for me
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  9. #9
    Das linken ist tod.
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  10. #10
    Originally posted by Wolfala:
    The movie was not mine - i'm just posting it. Its from www.edefenseonline.com I was born in Jersey and grew up in southwestern CT. Flew out to RI a lot though, mostly Block from Bridgeport.

    How did you like Block? Its a peaceful little island. I bike there every now and then, actually I grew up in Warwick, just about a mile and a half north of PVD.
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