Last Surviving "Enola Gay" Airman Dies

Last Surviving "Enola Gay" Airman Dies

Next week marks 69 years since Van Kirk navigated a US B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan.
The last member of the flight crew that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan during World War II has died.

On Monday, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk died of natural causes at a retirement community near atlanta.

That's according to his eldest daughter.

He was 93.

Next week marks 69 years since Van Kirk navigated a US B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan.

Once over its target, the Enola Gay unloaded the first atomic bomb dropped in war.

A single bomb blast killed some 140,000 people and helped end World War II and pushed the world suddenly into the nuclear era.

In 2012, Van Kirk described what happened right after dropping the bomb.

"That was our biggest worry, was getting away from the bomb. You know, how do you get away from a bomb? You drop the bomb; the bomb goes this way, you go this way; but you had to make a very rapid turn. [Pilot Col. Paul] Tibbets practiced -- he could make that turn in less than a minute. So you're at 30,000 feet, now; he's in a 30, 60-degree bank, which is a very sharp bank, for a B-29 at that altitude."

One of his children, Tom Van Kirk, told CNN on Tuesday that his father "felt no regrets about" the Hiroshima mission.

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