‘All those aircraft’
Local veteran recalls the Japanese surrender
by Lewis O. Powell IV Staff Writer
Guy Longshore remembers the deafening sound of the “Show of Victory” flight over the USS Missouri as the Japanese officially surrendered to the United States in Tokyo Bay.
As the 68th anniversary of the September 2nd surrender nears, Longshore once again recalls his participation in the victory flight. As a gunner on one of the 200 B-29 Superfortress planes that was stationed in the Pacific, Longshore and the ten other members of his crew were part of the American show of force at the surrender.
“Our pilot called to us and told us to tune in on a certain channel and we heard the sound of all those aircraft engines picked up by the microphone on the ship, sent to the States by short wave and back,” he recalls.
“We knew about the surrender a day or two before because we were asked to fly in the formation,” he recounts. He remembers thousands of planes gathering over Tokyo and getting into a huge formation to fly over the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. After passing over the ship where the surrender was being signed, the nearly 1,500 planes broke formation and flew home.
Longshore has been speaking out a great deal recently reminding our youth of history. He’s spoken at high schools in the region and at LaGrange College sharing his experiences.
But perhaps his war photos have had the biggest impact. From his gunner’s seat atop the mighty fortress of a plane, Longshore had an unfettered 360 degree view of the world which he captured on a $12 Argus camera that he’d been given by his father.
While many of Longshore’s photographs are in the typical black and white of the period, he did take a series of pictures using a roll of color film — certainly something that was somewhat a rarity at the time. A few years ago, when he shared his color photographs of B-29s on combat missions, he was lauded for having the only color pictures in existence.
His marvelous photographs, in both black and white and color, capture B-29s in formation on both bombing and humanitarian missions. He writes in his memoir, “World War II: The Good and the Bad,” of the humanitarian missions to drop supplies on prisoner of war camps where American and other allied soldiers were interned. As they flew over one camp, soldiers had spelled out with white rocks, “THANKS 300 MEN.”
Often, as his plane flew low over the town of Sakata near one of the POW camps, he would see people spilling “off streetcars and falling bicycles” as the planes flew low overhead.
Ultimately, the mass show of American air power at the surrender is one of his most memorable moments. And he’s got the pictures to prove it.
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