The last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, has died.
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.
The atomic bomb killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima. VanKirk told FoxNews that, in-spite of the death toll, he thought America needed to use the bomb. “I honestly believe the use of the atomic bomb saved lives in the long run. There were a lot of lives saved. Most of the lives saved were Japanese,” said VanKirk. But he also cautioned against more wars.
“The whole World War II experience shows that wars don’t settle anything. And atomic weapons don’t settle anything,” he said. “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.”
Theodore VanKirk made history, simply by being in the plane. He did his duty to his country during the most bloody and brutal war this world has ever seen, and for that he will always be a true American hero.
Rest in Peace Theodore, we’ll take it from here.