Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, address Jefferson High School students on Monday, the Athens Banner-Herald.
At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, during the closing weeks of World War II, the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on a city. The blast produced a mushroom cloud and killed 140,000 people and left thousands more homeless.
Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, which killed an estimated 80,000 people, closing the chapter on the second World War.
“One thing students know about the bomb is that it caused tremendous casualties, and if you read about the bomb, you’d think that was the reason we dropped the bomb – just to kill a bunch of people,” the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper quoted Van Kirk saying.
“We dropped the bomb for a better purpose than that. We dropped the bomb to save lives – not to take lives – to save lives by ending the war and stopping the killings. The Japanese were not surrendering. Their code was not to surrender. There is no telling how long the war would have gone on if we would not have dropped the bomb.”