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Theodore Van Kirk, the last airman in US bombing of Hiroshima died

Jul 31, 2014 12:12 IST

Theodore Van Kirk, the last surviving crewman of the US plane that dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan during the World War II died on 28 July 2014. He was 93. Kirk also known as Dutch died due to natural causes at the Park Springs Retirement Community in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

About Theodore Van Kirk
• Kirk was 24-year old at the time when the first atomic bomb was used in combat
• He was born on 27 February 1921 in Northumberland, Pennsylvania
• He joined the Army Air Force Aviation Cadet Program October 1941
• He was a navigator of the United States Army Air Forces, best known as the navigator of the Enola Gay
• He was the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew after the death of fellow crewman Morris Jeppson, who died on 30 March 2010

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The Hiroshima attack on 6 August 1945 was first atomic bomb attack in the history of combat. The nuclear bomb was dropped by a US plane that carried 12 airmen as the crew of the Enola Gay - the B29 Superfortress. They dropped Little Boy (9000-pound bomb) on Hiroshima in which about one lakh forty thousand people were killed.

After Hiroshima bombing, the second nuclear bomb named Fat Man was dropped in Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. About 60 to 70 thousand people were killed in the incident. These explosions and killing of more than 2 lakh people forced Japan to surrender. Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, bringing an end to World War II.

Since then, the survivors of atomic bomb attack known as Hibakusha has always opposed both nuclear and civilian use of nuclear power. Many of Hibakusha died later due to radiation sickness and cancer.

The use of nuclear bombs has raised the debate on the issue of use of nuclear technology. Till date the United States is the only country to ever use nuclear bomb in combat.

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