Theodore Hard -  second from the right - standing.

 RODNEY GOES TO JAPAN WITH HIS FATHER
                                           World War II Revisited

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

My father, Theodore Hard (Ted), was an Orthodox Presbyterian Missionary in South Korea since right after the Korean War in 1954.  Dad helped Christian colleges and seminaries organize and stock their libraries as part of his mission overseas.   In 1965, my older brother, Sterling, was already back in the United States.  So, Dad took me, son number two, on a trip with him to Japan.  It was sort of a working vacation and sight seeing week. 

Dad and I booked passage on a small Japanese ship.  The ship was actually a converted LST (military designation for Landing Ship, Tank, since they used it for beach landings to divulge tanks and troops) left over from the Korean War.  When we boarded in Pusan, Korea, I found out that we did not have a room on the ferry to Japan.  Everyone just sort of claimed a spot on the floor in the hold of the ship (where the tanks and jeeps used to be stored) and set up camp with sleeping bags and personal belongings for an overnight trip. 

While chatting with some of the Japanese crew members top side in a mixture of some Japanese I knew, broken English, and the little bit of Korean they knew, we were able to carry on a friendly conversation about various things.  Eventually, the conversation moved into World War II territory and Dad ended up telling them that he had been a navigator in the B-29s that bombed Japan.  The crew's friendly smiles subsequent to that conversation seemed a little forced for the rest of the trip.  Needless to say, I did not sleep well that night out in the open in the hold of the ship.

When we arrived in Japan, we traveled by train to where the seminary was where Dad would be helping out.  We had a nice dinner at the home of a professor with his daughter (shown in picture) and his wife.   

Now, it happened that the wife had one side of her face all scarred up.  During the course of the evening, near the end of the meal, Dad asked the professor what had happened to his wife's face.  The professor proceeded to tell us how his wife had gotten severely burned in an air raid on his town during World War II.   Dad asked him what town he lived in when it was bombed.  The professor told us (I don't remember the name of the town) and that is when it got interesting. 

I really don't know what is up with Dad's total honesty thing, but there are times when it is best to just leave well enough alone.  But, NO!  Dad proceeded to tell the family that that town had been bombed only once near the end of the war and that he was the navigator in one of the B-29s that bombed that town.

I guess Dad relied on the Christian forgiveness thing and let bygones be bygones.  But, I figured that the Japanese Ninja retribution thing may trump the Christian forgiveness thing in this situation.  

That night we stayed in a dormitory room at the seminary.  It was a hot summer night with no air conditioning and against my better judgment (or perhaps, unfounded fears), Dad wanted to sleep with the windows wide open to let in the cool night.   I told him that I thought it was a bad idea that he had told the professor and his family about the bombing raid, and I told him I thought it was a bad idea to leave the windows open in case the Ninja came to assassinate us.  Dad laughed and poo-pooed the whole notion.  After all, the war was over.

I did not get any sleep that night because every little sound I heard fueled my fears of us being in mortal danger from assassins that were about to burst through the windows with Samurai swords drawn.

I remember this story very clearly because of the impact of the fear I suffered.  Dad, on the other hand, does not remember any of it.   The last time I saw Dad before he died, Sterling and I were retelling a lot of our memories.  Dad still denied that this happened. 

Shown in picture:  Rodney Hard at age 16 in 1965.  This is the only picture I have of the trip.  The young lady was the daughter of the Seminary Professor in the story.  She spoke fairly good English and was our guide around the city of Kyoto.

Shown in above picture is an LST like the ship I took on this trip.

B-29 navigator Lieutenant Theodore Hard in World War II (on the right with no hat)

Dr. Rodney T. Hard