The last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan has died at the age of 93.
Theodore Van Kirk was the navigator of the plane alongside commander Paul Tibbets, co-pilot Rober Lewis, and bombardier Thomas Ferebee, and seven other crew members.
Van Kirk died of natural causes in a retirement home in Georgia his son, Tom Van Kirk, told the Associated Press.
“I know he was recognized as a war hero but we just knew him as a great father,” Tom Van Kirk said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.
On Aug 6, 1945 the world’s first atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Van Kirk was 24-years-old at the time. Three days later, another B-29 Superfortress “Bockscar” dropped a second atomic device codenamed “Fat Boy” on Nagasaki.
The explosions left 140,000 dead in Hiroshima and 80,000 dead in Nagasaki.
Next year in 2015, it will be the 70th anniversary of the attack and Japan remains the only country that has had a nuclear device detonated on its soil.
Theodore Van Kirk, left, Paul Tibbets, and Thomas Ferebee beside the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped “Little Boy”, a nuclear bomb, on Hiroshima. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons