Theodore VanKirk (Dutch): Last Airman in US bombing of Hiroshima passed away
Theodore VanKirk (93), also known as “Dutch,” who was the last surviving member of the crew that jettisoned an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, bringing an end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, passed away in Georgia.
Though VanKirk was part of nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was this mission in the Pacific that etched his name in history. He was 24 years old when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. He was teamed with pilot Paul Tibbets and bombardier Tom Ferebee in Tibbets’ fledgling 509th Composite Bomb Group for Special Mission No. 13. As the 9,000-pound (4,080-kilogram) bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” fell toward the sleeping city, he and his crewmates hoped to escape with their lives. The blast and its aftereffects killed 140,000 in Hiroshima.
Three days after Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The blast and its aftermath took 80,000 lives. Six days after the Nagasaki bombing, Japan surrendered.