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It was over
Ken Taylor, of The Villages, Fla., a former B-29 bombardier in World War II, holds a photo of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.
Photo by Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun
On Sept. 2, 65 years ago, the formal surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay officially ended World War II. Although V-J Day (Victory Over Japan Day) is celebrated in August, the surrender was made official Sept. 2, 1945.
Ken Taylor was there to see it.
"I'll never forget that day, because we knew we were all going home," he said.
"It was through - no more killing."
The Village of Sabal Chase resident said it is hard for those who were not there to imagine what it was like.
"(It was) a very memorable day," he said.
During World War II, Taylor served in the Army Air Corps, stationed in Guam, from 1943-1945.
As a first lieutenant serving as a bombardier with the 29th Bomb Group, he flew in B-29 bombers.
He flew 30 missions to Japan - more than 500 combat hours - in 1945.
Missions lasted 14-18 hours, depending on their destination, he said.
"On the day the Hiroshima bomb dropped (Aug. 6, 1945), I was about 200 miles from that," he said.
"We didn't know anything about it until on our way back - it was very, very secret."
But on Aug. 10, his 22nd birthday, life was transformed for Taylor and his crew.
As a first lieutenant, Taylor served with the 29th Bomb Group.
"We were listening to Tokyo Rose, who had very good music at the time, and she came on the air and said the Imperial Japanese were surrendering. We were getting ready to fly another mission, and when that happened they postponed the mission for two to three days."
Later, Taylor learned that the Japanese emperor wanted to surrender, but the military didn't. The power struggle lasted for several days.
In the meantime, Taylor's next mission went on as scheduled.
"We flew the mission and burned a few more cities," he said.
Then, on Sept. 2, the formal surrender was signed aboard the USS Missouri.
"It was amazing, because we had a certain area to patrol because we still weren't sure what was going to happen, and our area happened to be over the USS Missouri," he said. "It was a great relief."
On Oct. 31, 1945, Taylor was back home in Sequim, Wash., a small town just north of Seattle.
"It was such a great feeling to touch U.S. soil again," Taylor said.
See The Villages Daily Sun website here.