The Last American Troop Killed in WWII Died After the War Ended

    Tragically, one last American life was lost between the announcement of Japan's surrender and the signing of the document.

    On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a brutal attack on Pearl Harbor, killing over 2,300 American military personnel and catapulting the U.S. into World War II. After nearly four years of fierce fighting, Japan agreed to the terms of surrender as laid out in the Potsdam Declaration. On August 14, 1945, news of the surrender broke in the United States. On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito's recorded declaration of surrender was broadcast to the Japanese people.

    A few weeks later, thousands of brave men gathered on the USS Missouri to witness a historic event as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by Adms. Chester Nimitz and William Halsey, met with the Japanese delegation. Officials signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945, finally putting a stop to the war and securing victory for the Allies.

    Tragically, between the announcement of the surrender and the signing of the document, despite an active ceasefire, one last American life was lost.

    Related: That Time a WWII Bomber Pilot Climbed Onto the Wing Mid-Flight to Save His Crew 

    last troop killed wwii

    Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board USS Missouri

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    During the war, Sgt. Anthony J. Marchione served as an aerial photographer with the 20th Combat Reconnaissance Squadron. On August 18, 1945, Marchione was on a mission to gather evidence that the Japanese were indeed complying with the ceasefire when the B-32 he was aboard took enemy fire.

    Japanese machine guns ripped into the side of the B-32's metal skin, creating a shower of shrapnel inside the cabin. Marchione noticed one of the crew members was gravely wounded and he rushed over. As the brave photographer helped his brother-in-arms, another barrage of enemy gunfire rained down on the American bomber.

    Related: Unbreakable: How Navajo Code Talkers Helped Win WWII 

    The second round of incoming fire struck Marchione. He bled to death aboard his plane in the skies over Tokyo that Saturday afternoon. Sgt. Marchione's tragic, untimely death has the dubious distinction of being the very last of World War II.

    The aerial photographer was about a month away from celebrating his 20th birthday.



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