The war didn't end with VE Day either

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The May 2, 2011 death of Osama bin Laden, Public Enemy Number One, put the country at ease and gave American citizens a collective sigh of relief that after a decade, we can finally put the September 11, 2001 attacks behind us.

This brings us back to another momentous day in May. It was May 8, 1945 when Karl Donitz, the newly installed President of Germany, signed the surrender documents that ended Germany's involvement in World War II and effectively ended the Third Reich. Donitz took office after Adolf Hitler's suicide on April 30.

Even though World War II had ended in Europe and people were celebrating in the homeland, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and other cities, towns and villages throughout Minnesota, the war was not over. American forces in the Pacific Theater continued to press the offensive with the battles of Visayas, Mindanao, Okinawa, Balikpapen and Tokyo Bay, along with a massive firebombinging campaign against Tokyo and other Japanese villages, before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese government to surrender on Aug. 15. The surrender was formally signed on the teakwood decks of the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.

Just because bin Laden was killed does not mean that this war is over. For those of us who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during this past decade, we know that the work is not done. We must still be on guard against all enemies - foreign and domestic.
Sixty-six years ago, the members of the 96th Troop Carrier Squadron spent their post-VE Day time hauling battle casualties, supplies and personnel throughout Europe. For them, the war didn't end for months after the German surrender.

Today, we can only hope that the bin Laden news is the beginning of the end of Operation Enduring Freedom. Until we get the order to "stand down," we must continue to be vigilant, not let our guard down, and continue to remain on watch until the enemy is finally defeated. The death of Bin Laden just brings us one step closer to that goal.