If all you know about the war between the United States and Japan from 1941 to 1945, is the attack on Pearl Harbor and the dropping of the atomic bomb, you are missing what the guys in this picture were having to prepare for.
The young man on the left in the photo is my father, USMC private George Hall, at Camp Pendleton, San Diego, at age 18 in 1944. And what the Marines were preparing for was the invasion of mainland Japan. In order to do this, they were taking the islands around Japan, including Okinawa, which is where my father went. If you've read about the war on these islands, you know how horrible it was. If you haven't, don't. It was an absolute bloodbath.
Like most men of his time, my father never talked about this. I've put together what information I have on him from a box that was saved by his mother, which she had saved. Every once in a while I go through the box and try to imagine the world that he saw. And if I learned anything from this, I learned of the horror and futility of wars and that they are fought by children.
Of course, I will never know who the other guy in the photo is. But chances were very good that if he went to Okinawa, he didn't come back. But maybe he did. I would like to think so. My dad did. He and his fellow Marines were on those islands, preparing for the invasion, when the atomic bombs were dropped and the war with Japan ended.