"The next day I went down to the harbor and met the harbormaster. Okinawa had been absolutely loaded with supplies for the invasion of Japan. It had been planned that 500,000 men would invade Japan and we had stock-piled what we call a '500,000 Manpack.' That's enough equipment, medicine, radios, everything, for 500,000 men for a certain fixed period of time. I wish I could tell you, but it's probably a month, or two months, something like that.
Ratcliffe: 500,000 men.
Prouty: A '500,000 Manpack' of supplies had been stacked up there on Okinawa. Now of course that wasn't all that would go into the invasion, because ships that had been preloaded for the invasion would also come in. But anyway, on Okinawa there was an enormous amount of equipment. And all of a sudden it was being reloaded on trucks, put back on transport ships, and sailing out to sea.
The first thing I asked the commander was, 'Is this all going back to the United States?' He said, 'No. We don't want any of that back. Anything that isn't going to be used is going to be junked.' He said, 'This is going to Hanoi in Indochina.' And he said, 'Actually about half is going to Indochina.'
At that time, that didn't have the same impact on me that it would have today. I've since learned that when it got to Hanoi - to the harbor of Haiphong - it was turned over to the representatives of Ho Chi Minh. We gave this equipment to Ho Chi Minh, who was with our own Army, with General Gallagher of the U.S. Army. We were equipping his people so they could help us round up renegade Japanese - and this would be their way of arming and putting together their original army in North Vietnam.
Now this was September 2, 1945. Also on that date, by another coincidence, with the American Army General Gallagher standing beside him and OSS representative Lou Conein there, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam. He established the national independence of that country on that same date that the Japanese signed the surrender.
It's an historic date, because it marks the beginning of our entry on the ground in Vietnamese affairs, which lasted from 45 until '75. Most historians don't use that 20-year period from '45 to '65, when our Marines finally landed on the shores of Vietnam. They forget that we were there for 20 years before that."
Watch out for something big and military to happen in Asia.