The Fletcher-class destroyer USS Franks (DD-554) participated in the Central Pacific campaign, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the final conquest of Japan. On the bridge of the Franks throughout her entire wartime service was Quartermaster Mike Bak. Just as the Franks was representative of the swift and fondly remembered Fletcher class, Bak was representative of the hundreds of thousands of young men who grew up during the Depression and then went off to fight in a global war. In this excerpt from his U.S. Naval Institute oral history, Bak offers a vivid first look at war-torn Japan in the immediate aftermath of its surrender in 1945.
On 14 August, an aircraft carrier launched strikes over Tokyo, and Admiral [William F.] Halsey, on board the USS Missouri [BB-63], notified Task Force 38 he had received an urgent message from Commander in Chief Pacific ordering all air operations to cease. Emperor Hirohito had promised to surrender. That was on the 14th. On the 15th, he actually did surrender.