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Gov. Corbett: Enola Gay crewman, Pennsylvania native 'helped to save the world from tyranny'

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 30 2014 12:04:20 PM CDT
Theodore Van Kirk

69 News

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett paid tribute Wednesday to the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay.

Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, a native of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, died Tuesday in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He was 93.

"A son of Pennsylvania, Theodore 'Dutch' Van Kirk helped to save the world from tyranny and then returned home to live the quiet life of a citizen," Corbett said. "With the passing of a member of the Greatest Generation, we can only be reminded of the courage, sacrifice and unassuming patriotism of men such as Dutch Van Kirk."

Van Kirk, at the age of 24, was the navigator of the Enola Gay when the B-29 Superfortress aircraft dropped "Little Boy," the world's first atomic bomb, over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

"We could not see anything in the city of Hiroshima," Van Kirk recalled in a 2009 interview with 69 News at the World War II Weekend in Berks County. "It was all smoke and dust and that sort of thing."

The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki three days later.

In a 2005 interview with The Associated Press, Van Kirk 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.