Theodore Van Kirk, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay flight crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final stages of World War II, died Monday at an assisted living facility in Stone Mountain, Ga. He was 93.
Van Kirk, a veteran of 58 U.S. combat missions, died of age-related causes, his son Tom said.
Van Kirk, who went by the nickname "Dutch," was the crew's navigator. Before the historic flight, he was told he had been chosen for a top-secret bombing mission that could help end World War II. The payload was never specified.
When Van Kirk spoke to a Times reporter in April 2010, he was 89 and had just become the final survivor of the famous crew.
“It’s a very lonely feeling,” he said.
The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic payload in history over Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.
The bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy," left 80,000 people dead in the initial explosion, and thousands more died from radiation poisoning. A second atomic bombing in Nagasaki killed at least 60,000 people three days later, prompting the Japanese surrender and effectively ending the war.
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