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Last living crew member of Enola Gay dies in Georgia at age 93
Fox News ^ | July 29, 2014 | N/A

Posted on 07/30/2014 4:22:58 AM PDT by Freeport

ATLANTA – The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, has died in Georgia.

Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

VanKirk flew nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was a single mission in the Pacific that secured him a place 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 Aug. 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.

The mission went perfectly, VanKirk told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. He guided the bomber through the night sky, just 15 seconds behind schedule, he said. As the 9,000-pound bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" fell toward the sleeping city, he and his crewmates hoped to escape with their lives.

They didn't know whether the bomb would actually work and, if it did, whether its shockwaves would rip their plane to shreds. They counted -- one thousand one, one thousand two -- reaching the 43 seconds they'd been told it would take for detonation and heard nothing.

(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...


TOPICS: Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: atomicbomb; hiroshima; worldwarii
Thank you sir.
1 posted on 07/30/2014 4:22:58 AM PDT by Freeport
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To: Freeport

Godspeed sir.

May God rest his immortal soul, and bring comfort to his family.


2 posted on 07/30/2014 4:25:37 AM PDT by thesearethetimes... (Had I brought Christ with me, the outcome would have been different. Dr.Eric Cunningham)
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To: Freeport

God rest ‘Dutch’ VanKirk’s soul. And thank him for his service.


3 posted on 07/30/2014 4:51:19 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Freeport
I remember some lib teacher in high school telling us that all of the crew commit suicide or became drunks from guilt.
4 posted on 07/30/2014 4:54:58 AM PDT by CrazyIvan (I lost my phased plasma rifle in a tragic hovercraft accident.)
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To: Freeport
RIP Sir.
You helped end more bloodshed in that most horrible war of all time.
Though many revisionists today try to paint the use of the bomb as an evil manifestation of US Industrial military might, those of us who studied History well know that what you did throughout WWII and on August 6th were absolutely necessary and saved millions of additional lives.

Thank you for making our post-war world a safe, stable and prosperous one.

5 posted on 07/30/2014 4:57:02 AM PDT by Netz
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To: CrazyIvan
They probably saved the Japanese race from being wiped from the face of the earth. In 1945, the Japanese were so despised, and Bull Halsey said that the only place Japanese would be spoken "was in hell". They would've fanatically defended their island, the same way they defended Tarawa, Okinawa, and IwoJima.

The A-Bomb got their attention. Also, it prevented the USSR from turning Japan into "North Japan/South Japan".

6 posted on 07/30/2014 5:15:45 AM PDT by MuttTheHoople (Ob)
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To: Netz
You are right, and people forget the small detail that Nagasaki was necessary because the Japanese refused to even consider surrender, after having several days to see the damage wrought by the first bomb on Hiroshima.

Such was the fanaticism and dedication of the Japanese.

It is not hyperbole to say that avoiding a land invasion of Japan saved a million lives.

7 posted on 07/30/2014 5:17:16 AM PDT by caddie
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To: Freeport

Cannot believe these guys - those still with us - are this old now.


8 posted on 07/30/2014 5:26:36 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: caddie
It is not hyperbole to say that avoiding a land invasion of Japan saved a million lives.

That's just on the American/Allies side. I've read estimates that a land invasion would have caused upwards of 5 million Japanese civilian casualties.

In advance of a planned invasion, the War Department placed an order for 500,000 Purple Hearts. After nearly 70 years, that inventory has yet to be exhausted.

9 posted on 07/30/2014 5:35:25 AM PDT by Night Hides Not (Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad! Remember Mississippi!)
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To: caddie
Looks like today's Japanese style fanaticism is manifested in Islam, no? What will it take to stop their current Jihad all over the planet? Where are the Curtis LeMay’s, Patton's and Paul Tibbets’? Where is our backbone and need to survive?
10 posted on 07/30/2014 6:16:40 AM PDT by Netz
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To: Freeport
"I personally think there shouldn't be any atomic bombs in the world -- I'd like to see them all abolished."

"But if anyone has one," he added, "I want to have one more than my enemy."


Sound like a good philosophy on the subject...
11 posted on 07/30/2014 6:18:28 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: CrazyIvan

My father mentored one of those depressed and suicidal men. Americans do not bomb innocents.


12 posted on 07/30/2014 6:48:29 AM PDT by amihow
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To: amihow

What do you mean “suicidal”? This hero lived to 93. RIP. Thanks.


13 posted on 07/30/2014 6:57:31 AM PDT by ogen hal (First amendment or reeducation camp)
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To: Night Hides Not

My late father was on a yard mine sweeper headed toward Tokyo in August 1945, when, for unexplained reasons, his group was ordered back to Okinawa. He did not expect to survive the pending invasion of the Japanese mainland.

He told me once that his ship shot down a kamikaze while they were stationed off Okinawa. The plane hit the water, broke into pieces, and the cockpit section wound up on deck. Fortunately, no one on board was hurt. When they put out the fire, they looked at the body of the pilot, who they figured was no more than sixteen, and wondered what kind of people would send their kids out to kill themselves in this way....


14 posted on 07/30/2014 7:00:18 AM PDT by DickBrannigan (When did logic become reversed, and right became wrong, and wrong became right?)
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To: amihow

“Americans do not bomb innocents.”

A week prior to the atom bombing of Hiroshima the U.S. firebombed Tokyo killing an estimated 50-70,000 people. The difference was that Hiroshima took only one bomber and one bomb to kill roughly same number of people that several hundred bombers and thousands of bombs had done a week earlier. Furthermore, in a war like WWII who is to say is innocent? The Japanese Imperial Army and Navy, supported by the people back home, killed some thirty million people, mostly Asians, during that war. There no need to add several hundred thousand more people, American soldiers, to that total when it could be avoided.


15 posted on 07/30/2014 7:09:49 AM PDT by Jay Redhawk ("Good beer is proof that God loves us." Ben Franklin)
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To: Freeport

A real hero. He may have saved thousands and thousands of lives; American and Japanese.


16 posted on 07/30/2014 10:09:36 AM PDT by Tolkien (Grace is the Essence of the Gospel; Gratitude is the Essence of Ethics.)
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To: Night Hides Not
That's just on the American/Allies side. I've read estimates that a land invasion would have caused upwards of 5 million Japanese civilian casualties.

It also saved Japan from being divided into Soviet and American zones, with most likely a civil war resulting, just like Korea.

17 posted on 07/30/2014 10:12:40 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Jay Redhawk

Their blood is on Tojo’s hands.


18 posted on 07/30/2014 10:14:12 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: MuttTheHoople

The sheer magnitude of the invasion of japan under the name “Olympic” was going to make D-Day look tiny.

over a THOUSAND ships.

over 1 million tons in supplies

and the alies casualties were anticipated to be high.

You are correct. It would have been to the death for both sides. It would be no touchy feely introspective hollyweird BS.


19 posted on 07/30/2014 10:19:24 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Jay Redhawk

There were thousands of children.. if ppeople cannot see that is an unjust way to defend in war, we have lost American virtue.


20 posted on 07/30/2014 12:50:42 PM PDT by amihow
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To: Freeport

I met and spoke with Van Kirk a couple of times at booksignings. Great guy, wonderful sense of humor - was cracking jokes left and right.

With that kind of positive attitude it’s no wonder he made it into his 90s.


21 posted on 07/30/2014 12:53:46 PM PDT by tanknetter
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To: longtermmemmory

I don’t think that either Olympic or Coronet would have happened. Especially after Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

There would have been a naval blockade and continued conventional bombing. There would have been magnitudes more Japanese deaths from that than from the atomic attacks. And that’s not counting what the Sovs would have done to the Japanese army on the mainland.


22 posted on 07/30/2014 12:58:35 PM PDT by tanknetter
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To: Freeport

Nuclear bombing of Japan:

Supreme act of Humanitarianism and Peace.


23 posted on 07/30/2014 1:04:47 PM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: CrazyIvan

Having had the honor of meeting General Tibbets personally, I can happily refute such a ridiculous claim.


24 posted on 07/30/2014 1:15:27 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg ("Compromise" means you've already decided you lost.)
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To: amihow

Japan had opportunity to surrender and end the war. The deaths of those children occurred because of Japan’s decisions. What we have lost is the understanding that warfare requires some very ugly actions; that is if you want to win.


25 posted on 07/30/2014 3:05:15 PM PDT by Jay Redhawk ("Good beer is proof that God loves us." Ben Franklin)
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To: Colonel_Flagg
A great uncle of mine was ground crew for the Enola Gay. From the stories he told me about reunions I don't think there was much second guessing. Congrats on having the honor of knowing Gen Tibbets, I have read his book and he comes across as the all American humble hero. I have also read one book on the bombing which sites two Japanese historians who agree that it saved lives on both sides.
26 posted on 07/30/2014 3:54:05 PM PDT by CrazyIvan (I lost my phased plasma rifle in a tragic hovercraft accident.)
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To: CrazyIvan

The pleasure was mine, believe me. My copy of “Enola Gay” is signed and dated by the man himself and it’s one of my prize possessions.


27 posted on 07/30/2014 5:57:21 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg ("Compromise" means you've already decided you lost.)
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To: amihow

Japan gave us no other choice.


28 posted on 07/30/2014 5:59:17 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: tanknetter

Remember Tojo and company tried to kill the Emperor before he made his broadcast that convinced the Japanese to surrender. Had their plot succeeded, who knows what would have happened.


29 posted on 07/30/2014 6:00:43 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Freeport
Kyūjō Incident http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABj%C5%8D_Incident
30 posted on 07/30/2014 6:02:47 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

Try this again.

Kyujo Incident

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABj%C5%8D_Incident


31 posted on 07/30/2014 6:04:24 PM PDT by dfwgator
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