On this day 75 years ago, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was looking forward to returning home after spending three months on business in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That morning as the 29-year-old naval engineer walked to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard for his final shift, he heard the drone of an American B-29 bomber overhead.

As Yamaguchi looked up, he spotted two small parachutes. Then a flash of blinding light and a wall of heat knocked him to the ground. Although he had been less than two miles away from the detonation of the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare, Yamaguchi managed to survive in spite of bad burns on his face and forearms and ruptured eardrums. After spending the night in a shelter, Yamaguchi boarded a train to return to his home city—Nagasaki.

As he was recounting the destruction of Hiroshima to disbelieving co-workers on August 9, incredibly another white flash of light filled the skies. Yamaguchi would survive the second atomic blast as well.

So was Yamaguchi history’s luckiest–or unluckiest–person?

Click here to read more about his incredible story and how fate spared one Japanese city of the bombing endured by Nagasaki in this month’s edition of The Throwback history e-newsletter, which includes information about a new book on hurricane history and a virtual tour of America’s historic sites.

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