Sixty-five years ago (Aug. 6, 1945), Lt. Theodore Van Kirk, as flight navigator for the Enola Gay, embarked on a mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (Nagasaki was two days later on Aug. 8, 1945) and essentially change the world as it was known.
“One said, ‘We think that you’ll be OK if you’re nine miles away when the bomb explodes,'” he recalls. “And that kind of got our attention. And we said, ‘you think?’ They said, ‘We just don’t know. Probably best to be at least nine miles away.'”
[…] “This was always the most poignant to me,” he says, looking at a photo of a solitary man standing amidst a sea of rubble.
“After the war, we went to Nagasaki before the occupation forces arrived,” he says.
“And this Japanese is returning through his home, which no longer exists. Can you imagine? Coming back to your home and finding this?”
His hands spread open over the page. Then he slowly taps the photograph.
“Coming home to nothing.”
The Enola Gay was named by pilot Paul Tibbets in honor of his mother and it only flew one mission. But, the bomb they dropped from that mission killed 100,000 Japanese people and ended World War II. Nothing fascinates me more than accounts of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary historical circumstances and how they deal with those repercussions. [via]