Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the last living crew member of the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan at the end of World War II, died Monday at his Georgia home at the age of 93, reports The New York Times.
After the war, Van Kirk maintained his belief in the necessity of the mission and said he’d do it again given the same circumstances. In his view, America was fighting an enemy known for never surrendering.
“Number one, there is no morality in warfare — forget it,” he told The New York Times in 1995. “Number two, when you’re fighting a war to win, you use every means at your disposal to do it.” [eap_ad_1] He elaborated on his view of the importance of the mission during a 2005 interview with Time:
You fight a war to win. There were over 100 numbered military targets within the city of Hiroshima. It wasn’t a matter of going up there and dropping it on the city and killing people. It was destroying military targets in the city of Hiroshima — the most important of which was the army headquarters charged with the defense of Japan in event of invasion. That had to be destroyed.
The Hiroshima bombing and its lingering effects killed approximately 140,000 people by the end of 1945, including 20,000 soldiers, according to the Hiroshima Day Committee. Of around 76,000 buildings in the city, 92% were destroyed by the explosion and subsequent fire.
“It’s too bad that there were so many casualties, but if you tell me how to fight a war without killing people then I’m going to be the happiest man in the world,” Van Kirk told the Witness to War Foundation in another video interview.
“In war you do fight, you kill people, and that’s the way you win a war. And that’s what we did.”