Today (August 6) marks the 69th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It also marks the end of the 12 man crew who flew the Enola Gay on that mission.
Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, a native of our Central Susquehanna Valley
here in central Pennsylvania was laid to rest yesterday (August 5, 2014) in his hometown of Northumberland, PA as the last surviving member of that historic mission.
Dutch was the navigator on the Enola Gay. He could sometimes be encouraged to talk about his experiences.
Here is a list of the members of the B-29 Enola Gay:
Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., Pilot and aircraft commander, died Nov. 1, 2007, at 92, in Columbus, Ohio.
Capt. Robert A. Lewis, Co-pilot, died June 18, 1983, at 65, in Newport News, Va.
Maj. Thomas Ferebee, Bombardier, died March 16, 2000, at 81, in Windermere Fl.
Capt. Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, Navigator, died July 28, 2014, at 93, in Atlanta, Ga.
Capt. William S. Parsons, Weaponeer and mission commander, died Dec. 5, 1953, at 52, in Bethesda, Md.
1st Lt. Jacob Beser, Radar countermeasurers, (Only man to fly on both nuclear aircraft) died June 16, 1992, at 71, in Pikesville, Md.
2nd Lt. Morris R. Jeppson, Assistant weaponeer, died March 30, 2010, at 87, in Las Vegas.
Tech. Sgt. George R. “Bob” Caron, Tail gunner, died June 3, 1995, at 75, near Denver.
Tech. Sgt. Wyatt E. Duzenbury, Flight engineer, died Aug. 31, 1992, at 79, in Smyrna, Ga.
Sgt. Joe S. Stiborik, Radar operator, died June 30, 1984, at 69, in Rockdale, Tx.
Sgt. Robert H. Shumard, Assistant flight engineer, died at 46 (only information available)
Pfc. Richard H. Nelson, VHF radio operator, died Feb. 26, 2003, at 77, in Moscow, Idaho.
Tibbets, Ferebee and VanKirk flew some 37 missions together over Germany in B-17’s so they knew each other pretty well before they were sent to Utah to train for this mission.
As with many, many of the Greatest Generation these men have now all passed into history.
291, KAS 60-61