Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wendover Army Air Field


I recently went out to Wendover Army Airfield for a historical piece on what is now the Wendover Airport. Just past the border from Utah into Nevada, this military installation was the secret and primary testing ground for the Enola Gay and Bockscar airplanes that dropped the atomic bombs over Japan in WWII. Prototypes (copies of Fat Man & Little Boy) were assembled and loaded, then dropped in the desert just west of the airfield leading up to the mission that changed the world. I scuttled under an old rusty barb wire fence for this first photo. It was the platform where the 10,200 lb (4,630 kg) bombs would be assembled. The walls of the buildling were taken down, but this concrete slab remained. Photographing a deserted historical place is a little tricky. It was very enjoyable to tread the balance of showing what is still there against what the years have taken away. Anyways, for you history folks out there, you might find the story interesting.

TO READ THE PRINTED STORY CLICK HERE.

I did think quite a bit while driving out across the abandoned runways and while walking through empty munitions buildings where enlisted soldiers, younger than I labored and the Army's top scientiests worked hidden by a barren and lifeless desert over 50 years earlier. I started to wonder how I really felt about what eventually happened - the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We chatted a bit about the decision to bomb Japan. The man who was showing us around mentioned that at the time hundreds of soldiers were dying every week in the conflicts in the Pacific Theater and these "missions" did end the war. He mentioned that the other strategic option of the time would have been to invade the Japanese mainland, battles that would have cost even more lives. His answers just opened up more questions for me. Would the invasions and land battles have cost as many civilian casualties as the bombings? Even if the numbers work out in favor of dropping the bombs, was it worth unleashing the beast of atomic warfare to the world? If anyone has some well researched answers or opinions feel free to leave a comment.

8 comments:

LC said...

In hindsight, the decision may not have been a good one. However, 50 years removed it is a very different perspective with which we view the event.

I enjoyed the photos.

Greg said...

I agree with LC. I've been back & forth on this one. My father was on Okinawa when the war ended and if the bombs saved his life, selfishly I'm in favor. OTOH, who can really say. Great piece!

Miss said...

LOVE LOVE pictures 6, 8, and 12!! You need to post what exactly it is you do for a job...I would love to know! =)

Meg said...

My father flew planes back in the day, and I'm always drawn to the subject of flight. Great shoot!

Maegan Burr said...

I've been out there done this- but in August, much harsher light then. I like the softness that you got. good way to show detail of vast place with not a lot of action now.

Mike Terry said...

Miss,
I work as a photojournalist for a daily metro paper in Salt Lake City. Plus constantly shoot photos, so most of this stuff tends to be photos from assignments, photos that didn't make the final cut in the paper, or just random stuff from running around.
Thanks so much for the nice comments!

Miss said...

Thanks for the info Mike! I truly LOVE your work! (I think yours is THE only photo blog that I regularly follow and get all excited when you post things...being a photojournalist is my ULTIMATE dream...but not conducive with my life right now! =))

Mark Johnston said...

I truly love your work too Mike! Beautiful stuff and what fun it must have been to get an assignment like this. I'm always drawn by the mysteries of the desert out west and the secrets and ghost towns it hides. One day I'll pack the mini up and go explore.
As far as dropping the bombs go, who knows. I wonder how different the Cold War would have been if we hadn't. And who knows how an invasion of Japan would have ended up, I need to go read one of those "what if" scenarios.