Last Surviving Member of Enola Gay Crew Is Dead

Navigator 'Dutch' Van Kirk helped drop atomic bomb on Hiroshima

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 29, 2014 4:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – The crew of the Enola Gay bomber that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima is now only in the history books. The last surviving member, navigator Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, has died in an Atlanta retirement home at age 93, reports WXIA. Van Kirk was 24 when he helped direct the "Little Boy" bomb onto the Japanese city on Aug. 6, 1945, killing 140,000, reports AP. Though Van Kirk said years later that he felt the bomb was necessary to defeat Japan, he also told the AP in 2005 that he wished nuclear weapons would be abolished.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes note of a historical coincidence: Van Kirk ended up in the same retirement home in Stone Mountain as James Starnes, who was navigator aboard the USS Missouri when Japanese officials boarded the battleship to officially surrender. “I like to say Dutch ended the war, and I made it official—got them to sign on the dotted line,” Starnes has said. "He was very responsible for the success of the bomb drop.”

In this undated handout picture from the U.S.Army Air Force, the ground crew of the Enola Gay is shown.
In this undated handout picture from the U.S.Army Air Force, the ground crew of the Enola Gay is shown.   (AP Photo/U.S. Army Air Force)
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