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'Operation Downfall' and imminent death
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Editor's note: Today's column is the fourth in a series by John Waelti on the American Atomic Veterans.Military historians cite American conquest of the Marianas Island chain as the point at which Japanese defeat in WWII was certain. The Marianas brought American bombers within 1,200 miles of Japan. The costly conquest of Iwo Jima reduced that range to 660 miles, enabling fighter escort.The conquest of Okinawa in July 1945, a mere three hundred miles from Japan, would provide a base of operations for invading the home islands.