Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive March 2017 Show 1710 Walter Scheffe - Hiroshima Vet

Walter Scheffe - Hiroshima Vet

Value Added: A longtime civic leader and friendly pharmacist from Enid, Walter Scheffe piloted the Yokohama Yo-Yo, whose crew photographed the first atomic bomb and its aftermath just moments after the bomb was dropped.
Walter Scheffe - Hiroshima Vet

Walter Scheffe - Hiroshima Vet

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Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

Show Details

Show 1710: Walter Scheffe - Hiroshima Vet
Air Date: March 5, 2017

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: When it comes to a world-changing event, probably few, if any Oklahomans, have experienced what the gentleman in our next story has. Walter Scheffe is the friendly pharmacist that’s been filling prescriptions for Enid residents for more than a generation. Yet early on in his life, he was witness to an event that changed the course of history.

Rob: At 89 years of age, Walter Scheffe is the only pharmacist even his oldest customers have ever known. For over 60 years, filling prescriptions for friends and neighbors unaware that the hands carefully counting their pills were once at the controls of the Yokohama Yoyo high above Japan.

Walter Scheffe: You know why we named it Yoyo? Well, a yoyo always comes back.

Rob: As the pilot of a photo reconnaissance plane, it was Scheffe’s job to fly into harm’s way and photograph enemy positions.

Scheffe: These took very finite pictures. If we went over a city, and there were people standing out in the street, we could see their shadow, individual shadows.

Rob: And, while his plane was shooting photographs, the enemy was shooting at him.

Scheffe: We were over a city in Japan, called Nigoria, and we kept seeing some little black puffs come up, and as they got closer, they had red centers, and then we could hear them, and we got hit that day.

Rob: But stayed in the air. Altogether, Scheffe’s Yokohama Yoyo flew 23 combat missions over Japan, but none more important than the last.

Scheffe: Just to tell the story, it’s a sad story, and a happy story; happy story because it ended the war, and sad story because that was the first time in the history of warfare that another nation used a nuclear weapon.

Rob: And it was Scheffe’s job to chronicle the aftermath.

Scheffe: Told us that we were going to photograph the dropping of a new type of bomb. First of all, we could see a blip on the horizon, about 75 miles out; as we got closer, the blip got higher. When we arrived at Hiroshima, the cloud was above us, and we were told not to enter the cloud or the debris that was in the air, and we were to stay there one hour and photograph from outside. People have asked me, “Well, what did you think when you saw the bomb, the results of the bomb?” I really only thought of one thing: “The war is over, and I’m going to get to go home.”

Rob: And that he did. Scheffe opened his drugstore back home, which has grown into one of the largest private pharmacies in the state, which at age 89 is where you’ll still find him, day in and day out doing what he considers his real life work of helping others.

Rob: To hear more from Mr. Scheffe, head to our website and click on value added. There he reveals some interesting facts on the dropping of the first atomic bomb and talks about how disobeying an order may have saved his life.