Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Professor Emeritus Settle Explains Marshall’s Role in Atomic Bomb

Frank Settle, professor emeritus of chemistry and author of a forthcoming book, “General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb,” published a guest column in the Roanoke Times on the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima.

Marshall, Settle recounts, worked quietly behind the scenes to bring the Manhattan Project to success.

“Marshall’s influence on decisions leading to the use of the atomic bomb on Japan was as important as that of President Truman’s two top advisors, Stimson and Secretary of State James Byrnes,” Settle wrote. “Marshall advised on military issues including the continuing air and naval operations, the impact of the Soviet Union’s entry into the Pacific war, an invasion of the Japanese homeland, and modifying the conditions for a Japanese surrender. When the Japanese rejected the allies terms of surrender, Marshall approved the orders for the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. Its use, along with the Soviet incursion, shortened the war and avoided the invasion Marshall had dreaded.”

Settle quotes Marshall’s reflection from a September 1945 report about the future of war in the atomic age: “Certainly the implications of atomic explosions will spur men of judgment as they have never before been pressed to seek a method whereby people of the earth can live in peace and justice.”

Settle will discuss his soon-to-be-published book, General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb, Aug. 6, 5:30 p.m., at the George C. Marshall Foundation building on the campus of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

If you know any W&L faculty who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.