Friday, August 1, 2014

Last Enola Gay Crew Member Dies

Enola Gay Landing at Tinian after Dropping Atomic Bomb
According to CBS News, Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday, July 28, 2014, of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

Why was this man significant? 

Theodore VanKirk was the navigator of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress aircraft that dropped "Little Boy" - the world's first atomic bomb - over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima. VanKirk was 24 years old at the time of the mission. He was the last surviving crew member of the 12 men who flew the Enola Gay mission over Hiroshima that day.
Enola Gay on Display at the
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Theodore VanKirk was a hero. A man who was in a place in time and did his duty as he was asked to do. The discussions which have ensued in the 69 years since the bomb was dropped do not diminish what was done which saved millions of Japanese and American lives because an invasion of Japan was not required. The impact of the bombs dropped by his crew and the crew of the B-29, Bockscar, which dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki three days later, have so far spared the world from the destruction associated the use of these weapons of mass destruction in the decades since their first and only employment.

Thank you for your service and your life Theodore VanKirk.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD


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