The Man Who Survived Two Atomic Bombs

The Man Who Survived Two Atomic Bombs

On August 9, 1945, the B-29 bomber “Bockscar” sliced through the clouds above the Japanese city of Nagasaki and unleashed a 22-kiloton plutonium bomb known as “Fat Man.” The blinding white light that followed was sickeningly familiar to Tsutomu Yamaguchi, an engineer who just three days before had been severely injured in the atomic attack at Hiroshima. Seventy years later, learn the story of the man who endured two separate nuclear blasts and lived to tell the tale.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was preparing to leave Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell. The 29-year-old naval engineer was on a three-month-long business trip for his employer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and August 6, 1945, was supposed to be his last day in the city. He and his colleagues had spent the summer working long hours on the design for a new oil tanker, and he was looking forward to finally returning home to his wife, Hisako, and their infant son, Katsutoshi.

Around 8:15 that morning, Yamaguchi was walking to Mitsubishi’s shipyard a final time when he heard the drone of an aircraft overhead. Looking skyward, he saw an American B-29 bomber soar over the city and drop a small object connected to a parachute. Suddenly, the sky erupted in a blaze of light, which Yamaguchi later described as resembling the “the lightning of a huge magnesium flare.” He had just enough time to dive into a ditch before an ear-splitting boom rang out. The shock wave that accompanied it sucked Yamaguchi from the ground, spun him in the air like a tornado and sent him hurtling into a nearby potato patch. He’d been less than two miles from ground zero. Read more

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