Tommy’s Wars

Paradise to Hell and Back




Tommy never had a chance to fire his weapon. He never even saw a combat soldier, but he ended up in a POW camp in Siberia for two years. His teenage brother was just doing his job in a Hiroshima factory when the atomic bomb fell on the city. Their father was just a peaceful minister, but ended up behind barbed wire for the four years of World War II.

Three members of one family in the wrong places at the wrong times as half-way around the world government leaders they never met determined the fate of faceless millions.

Tommy’s family members had faces and survived to describe their ordeals. Wrapped in the context of how and why, they take us through what we now know of an often-hallowed war that was in fact characterized by a great deal of bungling, beginning and end.

Seven decades after the end of World War II in 1945, newly available information still trickles out. Some myths are exploded, some opinions about certain aspects of the war changed.

We don’t even know if 20 million military personnel were killed or was it 30 million. Did 20 million civilians die as a direct result of the war or its atrocities, or did 30 million? Only an anal historian would care. Most have no faces to show the rest of us.

When we think of WWII atrocities, the first that comes to mind is the Holocaust in Europe. Some may think of the forced diasporas of the Soviet Union, others the maniacal killing of innocent civilians, the war crimes. Tommy’s Wars addresses three others: Pearl Harbor and the US internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and the prisoners of war in slave-labor camps of Siberia and kept on the edge of starvation.

What are the odds that three members of one Japanese family of innocent victims would end up at the wrong place and time of those three atrocities, have intimate ties to the United States in Hawaii, all survive and two are still around to tell their story, the third’s experiences retold from meticulous government records combined with published accounts of two fellow internees?

Three faces experiencing atrocities we now know need never have occurred. Three faces to follow as we learn fresh details, experiences and feelings that provide new and, at times, more accurate portrayals of stories told before in limited books or handed down through family lore.

These are Tommy’s wars, one family fighting to survive atrocities with the fortitude to overcome it all and eventually reunite to rebuild lives.

The faces of Tommy’s wars are augmented with context compiled through extensive research, including the latest information available about why they were where they were and when they were, what led to their atrocities and what was going on around them at the time. Together, they form an often-overlooked part of the puzzle of how a faceless war is conceived, conducted and concluded. At least its Pacific theater.

The world population was just over two billion at the start of World War II and half of them were affected by the decisions of leaders divvying up its spoils well before its end. Tommy’s Wars is about just three people, but their stories speak for faceless millions.


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