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Louisiana sailor had a front-row seat to the formal end of World War II

94-year-old Lee Ray Broussard witnessed formal signing ceremony on U.S.S. Missouri
Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 4:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Lee Ray Broussard was a 19-year-old U.S. Navy Yeoman when he witnessed history 75 years ago.

“It ended rather abruptly,” Broussard said of the end of the nearly four-year conflict with Japan.

Broussard and his fellow sailors had already been involved in several campaigns when news came on August 6 that the U.S. had dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

“We were right there, ready to bombard them some more when they dropped that first one,” Broussard said.

The Manhattan Project to develop the bomb had been cloked in secrecy, and as with the vast majority of Americans, Broussard had never heard of atomic weapons until the first one had been dropped.

“That was a surprise that anything that small could do that much damage.”

A second bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later finally brought the Japanese surrender.

General Douglas MacArthur delayed the formal ceremony until representatives of all the allies could be present.

He recorded the event in his diary, writing “Surrender, signed here aboard the Missouri!!!”

Broussard, now 94, recalls the immense mobilization as the country fought the Axis powers, and of an entire nation at war.

“Today, I hate to think what would happen if we had that same situation of kids and the country divided like it is.”

He was a clerk on the staff of the hard-charging Admiral Bull Halsey, an officer with whom he had daily contact.

“He was ready to sail right into Tokyo Bay and blast ’em with his big guns,” Broussard said. “He wasn’t too happy when the war ended.”

Broussard, on the other had, “was ready to come home.”

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