Title: War’s End
Author: Charles W. Sweeney
Sweeney, Maj. Gen. Charles W. U.S.A.F (Ret.) (1997) with James A. Antonucci and Marion K. Antonucci. War’s End: An Eyewitness Account of America’s Last Atomic Mission. New York: Avon Books.
- Sweeney, Charles W.
- United States. Army Air Forces–Biography.
- World War, 1939-1945–Aerial operations, American.
- Atomic bomb–Moral and ethical aspects–United States.
- World War, 1939-1945–Personal narratives, American.
- Generals–United States–Biography.
Date Updated: June 23, 2015
Plainspoken reminiscences from the only man to fly both of the missions that dropped atomic bombs on Japan, bringing WW II to a close. A love of flying took Sweeney from his boyhood home in suburban Boston into the US Army as an air cadet well before Pearl Harbor. After winning his wings and a commission on December 12, 1941, he bounced about stateside commands until the fall of 1943. Desperate to secure an overseas assignment, the 23-year-old captain talked Lt. Colonel Paul Tibbets into giving him a billet with the 509th Composite Group.
The 509th had been chosen to use the incredibly destructive weapons developed by the Manhattan Project against Japan. Following an intensive training regimen at well- guarded bases in remote areas of America’s vast Southwest, Sweeney and his comrades-in-aerial-arms arrived on Tinian in mid-1945. By now a major, he piloted the instrumentation plane that recorded the effects when Tibbets conducted a picture-perfect strike that decimated Hiroshima on August 6. Three days later, Sweeney led the unescorted superfortress flight that laid waste to Nagasaki. While history’s first A-bomb assault went like clockwork, the author and his crew had to overcome problems with their plutonium device, fuel shortages, and a host of other difficulties.
Shortly after Japan’s surrender, he was able to get a first-hand look at the ruins of Nagasaki. While the experience left him hopeful that humankind will never again engage in nuclear warfare, Sweeney (a devout Catholic) has no regrets for the role he played in bringing a cruel and costly global conflict to a decisive end. Nor does the retired major general have much patience with revisionists who give Japan victim status for the devastation it suffered. Eloquent, engrossing testimony of an old-fashioned patriot at peace with his consequential place in military and world history.