6 Aug 2005

Hiroshima survivors attend memorial at nuclear bomb launchpad in Marianas

8:12 am on 6 August 2005

A ceremony is being held in the Northern Mariana Islands today at the airfield that was the launchpad for the Hiroshima attack which resulted in the deaths of 140,000 people.

The B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay took off from Tinian airfield on August 6th 1945, commanded by the-now retired Brigadier-General Paul Tibbets.

The chairman of the Tinian peace ceremony, Philip Long, says the service will start at island's northern airfield where the bomb was loaded onto the aircraft.

"We have a commemoration ceremony, a prayer for all the lost souls from the atomic missions, also a prayer from all the lost souls in the entire war."

Philip Long says two Japanese survivors will attend but the original bomber crew won't be there.

We're putting on this not to assign blame, and not enter into the debate of whether the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whether it was necessary. What we're here for is to present a venue in order for them to express us their historical role. We're all students of history, and what better to get the history than directly from the people who took part in it.

No serving member of the US military will attend the airfield ceremony; they pulled out at the last minute owing to an apparent disagreement.