Alvin Zelver

Al Zelver is an author and former Army intelligence officer who observed the wreckage of Hiroshima after the bombing and spent a year in Japan after the surrender.

Alvin Prescott Zelver was born in Stockton, California, on July 2, 1920. Zelver received a B.A. in English from Stanford University, and shortly after enlisted in the United States Army. Zelver joined the army in 1942 as a Japanese language officer, and he spent the first half of the war studying Japanese, first at Stanford and then at the University of Michigan.

Zelver was first deployed to India, where he worked with British and American troops as an interrogator, translator, and interpreter. Zelver was in China when the war ended and was sent to Japan shortly after their surrender. On the flight from Shanghai to Tokyo, Zelver passed over Hiroshima, where he saw the destruction of the bomb firsthand. Zelver then spent a year in Japan, working primarily to monitor broadcasts at NHK Studios in Tokyo.

After the war, Zelver worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and as a city planning consultant in San Francisco. Zelver traveled back to Hiroshima in 2009 to speak as part of the Hiroshima Peace Foundation.

Zelver currently lives in Bozeman, Montana, where he still speaks about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the occupation of Japan.

Alvin Zelver's Timeline

  • 1945 Sep to 1946 Dec Stationed in Tokyo, Japan.
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