Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Last Crewman of Enola Gay is Dead

69 years ago no one could have ever imagined the destructive weapon about to be unleashed upon the City of Hiroshima and its doomed inhabitants. But that was war and here we are today. So as Obon season comes to a close, the last surviving crewman of the infamous B-29 Enola Gay (which dropped the bomb over Hiroshima) Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk has passed away of natural causes at the age of 93.

Van Kirk flew many missions in North Africa and Europe against the Nazi's but it was his one mission against Japan that made him synonymous with the deaths of over 140,000 people and ending the war. He was once asked if he would do it again. His complex answer goes as such: "Under the same circumstances -- and the key words are 'the same circumstances' -- yes, I would do it again. We were in a war for five years. We were fighting an enemy that had a reputation for never surrendering, never accepting defeat. It's really hard to talk about morality and war in the same sentence. In a war, there are so many questionable things done. Where was the morality in the bombing of Coventry, or the bombing of Dresden, or the Bataan death march, or the Rape of Nanking, or the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I believe that when you're in a war, a nation must have the courage to do what it must to win the war with a minimum loss of lives." Van Kirk would write about this and many more detailed accounts of his experience in his book "My True Course." His passing marks another close for the Showa Era and that of those Hibakusha still alive.

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