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Thanks to "The Bomb," Okinawa vets survive for Memorial Day in Perham, 64 years later

Veterans of the Okinawa campaign, in the spring of 1945, gathered for a reunion at the 2009 Perham Memorial Day ceremony. Standing, Kenneth Aasness and LeRoy Quernemoen, Fergus Falls, with Irv Klinger, a resident at Perham Memorial Home.

Veterans of the Battle of Okinawa reunited in Perham for Memorial Day.

It was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, and was a deciding factor in the fateful decision to launch the nuclear age in an effort to end the war.

"Dropping the bombs was the best thing they ever did," said LeRoy Quernemoen, Fergus Falls. "It saved lives...on both sides. More would have been killed if we invaded Japan."

All soldiers in the U.S. Army's 7th Division, Quernemoen, Kenneth Aasness and Irv Klinger would have been part of an immense, ten division force that was prepared to land in Japan in October of 1945.

But the blood bath at the 60 by 7 mile island of Okinawa prompted Pres. Harry Truman to deploy the United States' "secret weapon." After dropping the bomb first on Hiroshima; and then on Nagasaki; the Japanese surrendered--saving countless lives.

Because of that decision, these three soldiers were alive May 25, 2009, to attend Memorial Day ceremonies in Perham. Irv Klinger, born in Richville, and later returning to the area in retirement on Lake Marion, is a resident at Perham Memorial Home.

Aasness and Quernemoen, both of Fergus Falls, traveled to Perham for Memorial Day because they said they were impressed with the program planned by the Perham-based American Legion Post 61 and VFW Post 4020.