Last crew member of Enola Gay dies in Georgia
Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the navigator on the B29 Superfortress that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, talks about the flight of the Enola Gay at his home in Stone Mountain, Ga., July 18, 2005. It was a perfect mission, Van Kirk recalled. Under cover of night, he guided the bomber nearly exactly as planned _ the plane was just 15 seconds behind schedule. (AP Photo/Gene Blythe)
Crew members of the Enola Gray, B-29 Superfortress from which the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are shown Aug. 17, 1945, from left to right, front row: 1st Lt. Jacob Beser, 2nd Lt. Norris R. Jeppson Capt. Theodore J. Van Kirk; Maj. Thomas W. Ferebee, Capt. William S. Parsons, Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., Capt. Robert A. Lewis. Back row, left to right: Sgt. Robert R. Shumard, Pfc., Richard H. Nelson, Sgt. Joe A. Stiborn, Sgt. Wyatt E. Duzenbury, Sgt. George R. Caron. (AP Photo/Max Desfor)
In this undated handout picture from the U.S.Army Air Force, the ground crew of the Enola Gay B29 bomber which bombed Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945 with the "Little Boy" atomic bomb, stands with pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, center, in the Marianas Islands. Tibbets died Thursday, Nov.1, 2007, at his Columbus, Ohio, home. He was 92. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Air Force)
In this Aug. 6, 1945 file photo, the "Enola Gay" Boeing B-29 Superfortress lands at Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands after the U.S. atomic bombing mission against the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Tom VanKirk says his 93-year-old father, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew, died in Stone Mountain, Ga. on Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Max Desfor)
In this photo provided by the Office of War Information, commanding officer and pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. waves from the cockpit of his bomber plane at its base in Tinian, on August 6, 1945, shortly before take-off to drop the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. The day before Tibbets named the B-29 Superfortress after his mother "Enola Gay." (AP Photo/Office of War Information)
In this undated handout picture from the U.S. Air Force, the plume of smoke from a mushroom cloud reaches 20,000 feet after the "Little Boy" nuclear bomb was detonated above Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Two planes participated in this mission; the Enola Gay carried and dropped the weapon, and another was an escort. Estimates vary, but about 140,000 people are believed to have died in the nuclear blast. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)
Interrogation of Enola Gay's crew upon return from mission on August 16, 1945. From left are: Lieut. Col. Payette, Intelligence Officer; Capt. Thodore Van Kirk, Navigator of Enola Gay; Col. P.W. Tibbets, wearing DSC, pilot; Adm. W.R. Purnell; Dr. Norman Ramsey; Command Birch, USNR; General Twining; Capt. Cheshire, RAF; General Barney M. Giles; Capt. McClehahan, Aus; Col. Sullivan; Lt. Colonel Thomas Classen, Deputy of Group; General Spaatz; Major J. Podter, operation officer; Captain W.S. Parsons, USN; Pfc. Nelson, Radio Operator; Captain Robert Lews, co-pilot, Major Thomas Farabee, bombardier; S. Sgt. Caron, gunner. (AP Photo)
The cockpit of the B-29 Bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, is seen in the National Air and Space Museum's new $311 million Udvar-Hazy Center, Friday, Dec. 5, 2003, in Chantilly, Va. The center will open Dec. 15. (AP Photo/Adele Starr)
This is an undated photo of the crew of the Army B-29 Enola Gay, the bomber that dropped the atom bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, posing in the Mariana Islands during World War II. Left to right standing, Lt. Col. John Porter, ground maintenance officer, Capt. Theodore J. "Dutch" Van Kirk, navigator, Maj. Thomas W. Ferebee, bombadier, Col. Paul W. Tibbets, 509th group commanding officer and pilot, Capt. Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot, and Lt. Jacob Besser, radar counter measure. Left to right seated, Sgt. Joseph S. Stiborik, radar operator, SSgt. George R. Caron, taid gunner, Pfc. Richard M. Nelson, radio operator, Sgt. Robert H. Shumard, assistant engineer, and SSgt. Wyatt E. Duzenbury, flight engineer. (AP Photo)
By KATE BRUMBACK
ATLANTA (AP) - The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima 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 was the navigator of the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress aircraft that dropped "Little Boy" - the world's first atomic bomb - over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima. A second atomic bomb dropped by another plane killed 80,000 in Nagasaki three days later. VanKirk was 24 years old at the time.
Tom VanKirk said he and his siblings are very fortunate to have had such a wonderful father who remained active until the end of his life.
"I know he was recognized as a war hero, but we just knew him as a great father," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
In a 2005 interview with the AP, VanKirk said his World War II experience showed that wars and atomic bombs don't settle anything, and he'd like to see the weapons abolished.
A funeral service was scheduled for VanKirk on Aug. 5 in his hometown of Northumberland, Pennsylvania. He will be buried in Northumberland next to his wife, who died in 1975. The burial will be private.