My original collection of “war stories” was primarily a collection of photographs with explanatory remarks intended for my children and my grandchildren. Since putting that collection together, I have been encouraged to expand it to include the time before I went overseas and some of my post-war experiences as well. This revision includes that information.
While in the Navy I was assigned
to Combat Photo Unit 6, one of several attached to Admiral Nimitz’s staff. Edward Steichen, then a navy Captain, was
commanding officer of those units. He was considered the world’s greatest
living photographer by many and post-war became director of the
I have copies of only some of the photographs I made. Our orders were to send exposed film to Adm. Nimitz’ headquarters for processing. We often didn't see the results of our best efforts. I have included copies of some done by others that I was able to collect. It was forbidden to keep any sort of diary or journal, in case it might fall into enemy hands and give them information. I have researched different historical accounts written of this period, and often find them in conflict with my memory of what I saw, and sometimes in conflict with each other. Reliable dates of action and casualty figures are available from navy records, and I have tried to use those where applicable.
I still find it difficult to describe combat in a meaningful way to those who have not experienced it. Once home again I felt resentment toward people who had not. I even resented other service personnel who had not gone overseas. I had those feelings for several years. I’m not sure I have described the terror of kamikaze attacks well enough. They inflicted terrible damage and many lives were lost. However, those desperate acts were unable to stop the tremendous armada we had in the Pacific during the latter part of the war. Even so, without the atomic bomb, that war’s final conclusion probably would have resulted in the death of another million people. During the Vietnam War era, some were fond of calling World War II “the good war.” There is no good war. War really is hell. Significant changes to human nature will have to come about before it is eliminated, and I have seen no evidence of such change during my lifetime. It seems to me that our country’s best hope is to avoid electing politicians who have not learned their history lessons. Wars, if they must be fought, have to be fought to win. To me, unwise “political solutions” and “limited warfare” are hollow measures easily exploited by a determined adversary.
- Lyle D. Hansen, March 25, 2002.