Skip to main content
SDPB Homefront Stories

Wesley Zacharias, 2007 

  • Branch of Service: United States Army
  • Highest Rank: Private First Class
  • Military Service: April 1945 - November 1946

Listen to the following sections by scrolling forward to the timecode.

0:00 - Service information (drafted) 
1:20 - Atomic bomb dropped; part of the occupation forces in Japan
4:35 - Married before the war; son ten months old before met him; wrote many letters
542 - Experience in Japan; smelled like dead fish 
8:51 - Nothing left after the bombing; burned up 
10:02 - Life after the war (farming)
11:42 - He felt the war would have continued a lot longer without the use of the atomic bomb
12:52 - What people should know about WWII
14:05 - The press
16:00 - Occupying force 
17:40 - K and C rations (food)
20:02 - At home; tried to forget the war; son in Vietnam War 
21:28 - Hunger was horrible in Japan after the war; the worse thing he saw during the war 

Wesley Zacharias Obituary 

This story was recorded at an SDPB event in Wagner, SD. 

Images Provided by Wesley Zacharias

T-4 Tracker used to pull 120-millimeter anti-aircraft gun (Wesley Zacharias pictured right).

One of many caves located approximately 8 miles from Yokohama, Japan. The caves were used as a Japanese military stronghold during WWII. The photo was taken 15 - 20 days after the atomic bombs were dropped.

S.S. Costa Rica Victory - Arrived in San Francisco from Yokohama, Japan on September 12th, 1946. (Wesley Zacharias was aboard this ship.)

Wesley Zacharias, 1945 (This photo, "Love daddy," was sent to Wesley's son during WWII. Wesley's son was 2 months old before he heard about the birth and 10 months old before Wesley saw his son for the first time.)

One of over 100 silk handkerchiefs Wesley Zacharias sent to his wife during WWII. The handkerchief pictured was sent home for Christmas. He could trade one cigarette for a dozen handkerchiefs.)

For more information about SDPB's educational resources 
and services contact Steven Rokusek at or at (605) 222-3422

The HOMEFRONT SOUTH DAKOTA STORIES Project was Sponsored in Part By: