SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

August 15, 2013

Salem's Buczko recalls the “Last Shot” of WWII

He was just 19 years old, and he was there. Judge Thadeus Buczko of Salem, former Essex County probate judge and state auditor, entered the Navy as a young man at 18 and served as a crew member onboard the USS Bearss DD654 (pronounced “Barse”), a destroyer that was part of Task Force 92 serving in the North Pacific, along with the light cruisers Concord, Richmond, Trenton and other destroyers.

The Bearss participated in eight sea strikes, sinking two enemy vessels and damaging a third, while not losing a single man. As part of Task Force 92, the destroyer bombarded the Kuril Islands on the eve of the cessation of hostilities with Japan. (Just days before, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been devastated by American atomic bombs). According to military historians, that Aug. 15 night in the Kuril Islands is when the “last shot” of the war was fired.

But was it?

Task Force 92 now headed to the Aleutian Islands, where the fleet would prepare for the occupation of Japan. There, the USS Concord (named for the town that, along with Lexington, was the site of the opening of the Revolutionary War) realized one of its guns still held live ammunition because it had misfired. The ship was given permission to fire — “and THAT was the real ‘last shot’ of the war,” Buczko explains.

“Years later,” Buczko remembers, “a VFW magazine article titled ‘WWII’s Last Shot’ caught my attention because it was the first time I realized that I was present when the author documented that the last shot of World War II was fired as part of the operations of Task Force 92 in the Sea of Okhotsk and, more specifically, that it was the shot fired by the USS Concord during our shore bombardment of Shasukotan Island (part of the Kuril Islands chain) on Aug. 15, 1945.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act'
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium