Dad's War with
University City man treasures
father’s letter detailing his
worldwide scoop as an Armed
Forces Radio broadcaster on
By HARRY LEVINS
Post-Dispatch Senior Writer
An architect in University City has a family
stake in Sunday’s 60th anniversary of V-J
Day, the day Japan threw in the towel to
end World War II.
In the home office of the architect, Peter
Green, sit six thick ring-bound notebooks-
They’re filled with the wartime letters of his
father, Marine Pfc. Benjamin Green.
And in a letter written from Guam on Aug.
14, 1945, the elder Green tells his family
that he scooped the world on getting out
the big news of Japan’s surrender.
Ben Green died in 1976 at age 68. In
looking back, his son said last week, “My
father told lots of stories from the war. But
the stories he told were the funny stories.
The only way I found about this story was
by reading the letters.”
The letter about the surrender scoop is
typed entirely in upper-case letters, with
lots of ellipses Stead of periods. In those
days, that was the style for radio scripts —
and the senior Green was writing his letter
from WXLI, the Armed Forces Radio station
As a civilian in Chicago, Green had
produced and directed radio dramas. As a
Marine on Guam, he was, in effect, the
assistant manager of the radio station.
And in mid-August 1945, everybody at the
station was on pins and needles. The
United States had dropped an atomic bomb
on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and a second on
Nagasaki three days later. Now, the world
was waiting for Japan to call it quits.
On the afternoon of Aug. 14, Green
dispatched one of his reporters—an Army
soldier known as Kani Evans— to the
nearby headquarters of Adm. Chester
Nimitz, the Navy’s commander-in-chief
Pacific, or CincPac.
In the letter home, Green wrote that Evans
“had just given me a story about a B-29
attack, and I was preparing to put it on the
air when the phone rang again. It was Kani
out of breath with the Domei flash.”
Domei was the Japanese national news
agency. Its dispatches got careful scrutiny
at CincPac headquarters. The one that
excited Evans was apparently the dispatch
quoted later in the Post-Dispatch: “An
imperial message accepting the Potsdam
proclamation will be forthcoming soon.”
At a meeting the previous month in
Potsdam, Germany, the leaders of the
United States, Britain and the Soviet Union
had called on the Japanese to surrender or
In Guam, Green instantly grasped the
import of the Domei dispatch. His letter
“We slapped it on the air and then at 4 p.
m., two minutes later, took short wave from
San Francisco pointing out to our listeners
that San Francisco didn’t have the story
they had just heard over WXLI.”
The younger Green explained that the
“short wave from San Francisco” referred
to a short¬wave radio network that linked
Armed Forces Radio outlets. He was
uncertain about the reference to “our
(Continued next column)
Critics' praise for
Dad's War with the United States
"Sure to inspire the reader to thoughtful
reflection given current demands on the
American military arising from the 'war on
terrorism,' Dad's War with The United
States Marines' is very highly
recommended to all general readers and a
welcome addition to the growing library of
military memoirs and biographies."
–James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
(Oregon, WI USA)
"An architect in University City has a family
stake in Sunday's 60th anniversary of V-J
Day, the day Japan threw in the towel to
end World War II. In the home office of the
architect, Peter Green, sit six thick ring-
bound notebooks- They're filled with the
wartime letters of his father, Marine Pfc.
Benjamin Green. And in a letter written
from Guam on Aug. 14, 1945, the elder
Green tells his family that he scooped the
world on getting out the big news of
–Harry Levins, St. Louis Post Dispatch
(on the 60th anniversary of V-J Day,
August 14, 2005)
“This highly recommended read places the
operation of a wartime AFRS Pacific Ocean
Network outlet in the context of the family
story of Ben Green, plucked from his
senior radio advertising industry job in
Chicago and going through Marine
bootcamp before becoming 'the highest
ranking private on Guam' and running
–David Ricquish, Chairman, Radio Heritage
Wellington, New Zealand
Return here for more news and reviews of
Dad's War with the United States Marines.
But he’s positive that his father was the first
journalist anywhere to get out the word that
Japan was giving up. Sixty years ago, his
father felt the same wayIn the letter, he says
the Associated Press did, too:
“AP credited the Guam radio with making a
flash announcement here, which you may
have read or heard repeated in the States.
That was us!”
The younger Green has finished a book built
around his father’s letters. It’s titled “Dad’s
War with the United States Marines,” and it
will be published later this month by the
Seaboard Press as a 282-page trade
paperback.The title salutes Ben Green’s
record as a Sgt. Bilko of his times — a quick-
infantry security unit and into the cushier job
at the radio station.
In the book, Peter Green says that several
hours passed be¬tween his father’s flash
and the word that older Americans still recall
—CBS reporter Webley Edwards’ broadcast
from CincPac headquarters.
At 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, President Harry S
Truman made a terse announcement that
Japan was quitting. But somehow, word of
the surrender — or least rumors to that
effect — got to St. Louis in the early hours of
That evening, the Post-Dispatch put out an
extra edition. The extra reported that on Hill,
the old Ruggieri’s Restaurant had closed as
usual at I am. Tuesday —and had re-
opened later, when word came in. The story
says, “Early celebrators were served with
drinks on the house.”
As the day wore on, spirits rose higher and
higher. The Post-Dispatch pinpointed Olive
Street between Eighth and Ninth streets as
“the center of downtown merrymaking.” A
photo from that block shows a snowstorm of
paper falling from office windows.
But on Guam, Ben Green was too tuckered
to party. After all, he was 37—no youngster.
And he’d been keyed up for days, waiting for
news of the surrender.
“I’m dead tired,” he writes in the letter, “even
though I managed seven hours’ sleep last
night. I need 24.”
The letter was written around midnight and
addressed to his wife as she visited relatives
in Massachusetts. As it winds to an end,
“I’ve been to CincPac forty times today and
now I give up. I can’t keep my eyes open?’
He tells his wife — Alice Herlihy Green, a
Chicagoan who died in 1982—“I love you.
The war’s over. You’re an angel. And there
won’t be any more worry for you. Soon, I’ll be
home to do it all. But there won’t be any
worry, so we’ll just laugh and play like other
kids. You’re a doll.
Information on Green’s book is available on
the Web site at www.peterhgreen.com.
“AP credited the Guam radio with making
a flash announcement here, which you
may have read or heard repeated in the
States. That was us!"
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH ISSUES &
August 14, 2005
Also in this section:
Editorials and Commentary
INSIDE: University City man’s dad helped break the news to the
world of Japan’s surrender in WW II. Page B5.
Dad broke news of Japan’s surrender