Here’s the late John McGlohon speaking at the Asheboro Public Library in August 2016 about his experience photographing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. (Scott Pelkey/Randolph Record – File photo)
ASHEBORO – Many Asheboro residents are aware that former fire chief John McGlohon, as an aerial reconnaissance photographer in World War II, snapped images of the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima.
What they may not know is that as McGlohon began to tell his story, doubters arose — and because his images were classified “top secret” until 1995, proving it was problematic.
McGlohon friend and oral historian Ken Samuelson will share McGlohon’s unique story, and detail his own efforts, through archives, museums and service members’ memories, to substantiate it, in a talk at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Asheboro Public Library.
A large crowd could gather for this session based on interest when McGlohon spoke on the subject during an August 2016 presentation. An overflow crowd was on hand for that event.
Although only the three B-29 bombers assigned to the Hiroshima mission — including the “Enola Gay,” which dropped the bomb — were supposed to be in the area, a misunderstood order put McGlohon’s reconnaissance aircraft nearby. McGlohon captured images of the explosion and its aftermath.
After the war, McGlohon returned home and operated a photography business. In 1955, he joined the Asheboro Fire Department, and served as Chief from 1961 to 1985. After retirement, he served on the city council from 1987 to 2005 as mayor pro tem.
Samuelson, from Moline, Ill., graduated from George Washington University and served in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer. He later worked in financial management.
He has a long and deep interest in World War II, and has conducted oral histories with veterans for the North Carolina Museum of History, The National World War II Museum and the University of Florida Oral History Collection. He has published numerous articles on veterans he has interviewed.
His oral history work led him to McGlohon.