In Rokuroshi, Phil and Fred have to wait for rations and then to be transported to Yokohama. Back home, Phil’s mother has to wait before learning that Phil is alive.
Louie decides to stay in Okinawa a little longer, with the excuse that he does not want his mother to see him so thin. He eats, drinks, and celebrates. He sleeps on a real bed with sheets for the first time in years. When Louie decides to return home, he is anxious to be transported in an overloaded B-24. They land on Kwajalein, and Louie feels some joy to be there as a free man.
The American military decides to hospitalize Louie and the other POWs in Honolulu. There, Louie rooms with Fred Garrett, rests, and celebrates. On October 16, Phil arrives in Indiana via train. His family and his beloved Cecy greet him. Cecy and Phil are wed four weeks later. Pete learns that Louie has been transferred to a San Francisco hospital, and he goes AWOL in order to see his brother. In October, Louie returns home to his family.
Chapter Thirty-Two reflects the rules of war and how quickly power can shift. In victory, the Allied forces show strong character and have to maintain their endurance. Once the war is won, the Japanese must surrender powers to the POWs. At first, some try to hide the victory, but eventually the Japanese do admit the surrender. After so much humiliation and other suffering, the American soldiers display emotional strength and kindness when victory comes. They do not seek retribution. Even when the war is over, the soldiers still have to exercise patience in getting rescued and home. While their spirits are high at the war’s end, their bodies and minds have suffered extreme trauma.
As she does elsewhere in this book, Hillenbrand blends narration with historical information that contextualizes Louie’s experience within a larger scope of perspective. She further emphasizes the historic moment by offering statistics of POWs held and of soldiers who died.
Hillenbrand, a cinematic writer, offers a zoomed-out perspective, editing quickly among many locations to show the movement of people toward one another. From many points on the map, the reader watches soldiers moving across Japan, each movement taking them closer to their climactic reunions with their families. After an epic war journey, the soldiers are now on their journey home. Chapter Thirty-Three shows how the war’s end was a gradual experience for many people—for the soldiers who needed to recover from the physical ravages of war, and for their families who had to wait for the return of their family members.