Calvin Quint, standing, fourth from left, witnessed the devastation and destruction of Nagasaki about a month after an atomic bomb was dropped on the city, leading to the surrender of Japan days later.

Calvin Quint, standing, fourth from left, witnessed the devastation and destruction of Nagasaki about a month after an atomic bomb was dropped on the city, leading to the surrender of Japan days later.

Photo provided by Calvin Quint


V-J Day remembered 74 years later

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published August 12, 2019

 World War II veteran Calvin Quint, of Warren, was aboard the USS Marathon when it was torpedoed July 22, 1945, leaving dozens dead.

World War II veteran Calvin Quint, of Warren, was aboard the USS Marathon when it was torpedoed July 22, 1945, leaving dozens dead.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

 This photo shows what Nagasaki looked like after an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city on Aug. 9, 1945.

This photo shows what Nagasaki looked like after an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city on Aug. 9, 1945.

Photo provided by Calvin Quint

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WARREN — Aug. 15, 1945, is forever known as V-J Day, the day of victory for Allied forces over Japan in World War II.

Seventy-four years after that momentous day when fighting with Japan ended, Calvin Quint says the manner in which the war ended — with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan — was necessary at the time.

The 92-year-old World War II veteran from Warren served in the Navy aboard the USS Marathon, an attack transport ship, in the Pacific.

Just over two weeks after a Japanese kaiten struck the Marathon on July 22, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945, resulting in over 100,000 casualties.

“We heard about it and they talked about the atomic bomb. Before that bombing, we never heard of an atomic bomb,” Quint said.

Later that week, on Aug. 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing between 39,000 and 80,000. The Marathon was near the island of Okinawa at the time of the bombings.

The bombings of the two Japanese cities remain the only time nuclear weapons have been used in armed conflict.

Quint witnessed what Nagasaki looked like a month later when the Marathon transported prisoners of war from Nagasaki to Okinawa.

Although he didn’t go ashore at Nagasaki, other men from the Marathon went on land to view the devastation.

“It was in bad shape and I went up on a bridge with binoculars,” he said.

Quint’s thoughts on America’s deployment of the atomic bomb in World War II is that it’s easy for people to say it shouldn’t have happened after it was done.

“Our military thought it was necessary. If we hadn’t invaded Japan without doing that, there would’ve been a heck of a lot more Americans and Japanese killed,” he said. “If we had only invaded, we would’ve killed a lot of Japanese, probably more than the bomb did. By doing both, it put an end to the war.”

When the Japanese accepted unconditional surrender Aug. 15, 1945, Quint’s memory is that he and fellow sailors were glad they could return home to see their families and friends.

As a seaman second class, he was assigned to the Marathon in the fall of 1944. A horrific moment for Quint and hundreds of other sailors was when the Marathon was torpedoed, killing dozens.

“There was a tremendous boom and if I was asleep, it woke me up,” Quint recalled. “I couldn’t figure out for a few seconds what it was. I got up and heard water running. I was able to look over the side to see why all the water was running. When the explosion went off, it blew tons of water in a geyser. It was pouring off the side of the ship.”

After the ship was torpedoed, Quint’s job, along with a few other guys, was to remove the dead bodies.

What prevented the Marathon from sinking, Quint believes, is quick action by the Navy.

He said the mindset of the Marathon crew after the attack was the war would end soon and they’d be able to safely return home.

Once the formal Japanese surrender ceremony was complete on Sept. 2, 1945, the Marathon sailed to Nagasaki to pick up and transport liberated American, British and Australian prisoners to Okinawa after the war ended.

“We had a bunch of guys that we carried,” Quint said. “They were in bad shape. Some were practically starved. We fed them and that was when I was on mess duty.”

Quint’s son, Danny Quint, said that growing up, his father mentioned war stories, but didn’t elaborate a whole lot.

“It wasn’t until he was well into retirement that he would reminisce,” Danny said. “He would get together for quite a few years with other crewmen from the Marathon. We had a great life growing up and he and my mom were great role models.”     

Calvin Quint was honorably discharged June 3, 1946, and married his wife Marion a month later. The couple celebrated their 73rd anniversary in July. They have three sons, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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