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On 75th Anniversary Of Atomic Bomb Attacks, Survivor Remembers The Horror

For us, it’s something out of a history book.  But, for Shigeko Sasamori, it was a nightmare which would change her life together.   The then-13 year old girl was one of the victims of the first ever use of the atomic bomb in wartime, in Hiroshima, Japan. 

Sasamori is an honoree of the Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which has been fighting for decades for nuclear disarmament.

She was part of a group of teens let out of school for the day to help clear buildings from parts of the city, so if the city was fire bombed, the flames from burning structures wouldn’t trap people,

It was 8:15 in the morning.  Sasamori noticed a lone plane flying high over the city.

Up until that point, Hiroshima had been spared the fire bombing that other cities in Japan had faced.  The city of about 350,000 people was home to some military units, and munitions manufacturing plants.  But, the U.S. military was focusing attacks on cities where Japan was building warplanes.

The bomb exploded with about the equivalent of 15 kilotons of TNT.  Sasamori was about a mile away from the blast.  She was thrown to the ground by the sock wave, and knocked unconscious.  The teen suffered severe burns.

The scene around her was horrifying.  She joined thousands of severely injured people walking away from the center and towards a river, where many sought relief from their pain.

She eventually made her way to her home, outside of the blast zone.  Her parents were unhurt, and her two sisters, and brothers were elsewhere.  Sasamori admits no one thought she’d survive.

In the 1950’s, she was one of two dozen teens flow to the United States, where they underwent surgeries for their injuries.  She underwent 20 operations, eventually staying in the U.S. and becoming a nurse.

The blast killed an estimated 80,000 people, with another 70 to 80,000 dying from the aftereffects of radiation, and injuries.  No one know the exact number.  Does the atomic bomb survivor think something like it could ever happening again?  She says no.  She feels people aren't stupid enough to let it happen again.

Sasamori is one of the Santa Barbara based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's honorees for her efforts in trying to stop the deployment of the weapons.  

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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