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Monday July 28th at 4:30 p.m. I lost a good friend and mentor, Theodore J. " Dutch" Van Kirk. I first met Dutch In 1990 and had corresponded with him prior to that. When Tom Ferebee died I asked Dutch If he would join us at signings, thus began a 14 year close relationship. I can even say that he saved my life by Insisting that I obtain a second opinion on a serious medical problem I had. Over the years I realized that Dutch was the best spokesperson from the Enola Gay Crew to explain the use of the Atomic Bomb In ending the war. He had a good life, as a youth In Northumberland, Pa. he rowed flats of coal up and down the Susquehanna River working with his father. He flew 58 Missions over North Africa In the B17" Red Gremlin" as Navigator for Paul Tibbets and with Tom Ferebee the Bombardier. After the war he had a successful career with Dupont.

I'll miss our signings, our laughter, the stories.
I'll end this by saying " Job well done " I'll miss you.

Thank you to Jim Kealy for the photos especially the last one of Mary Ann Ferebee, Amelia Krauss, Dutch and myself. Dutch often referred to Amelia and I as the "Bickersons" a 1940's radio program In which the wife and husband bantered back and forth.

Robert Krauss

509th newsletter 2013

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A Veteran Remembers...
Lt. Col. Thomas Classen, quiet hero and Deputy Commander of the 509th. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for a gun battle from his B17 with eight Japanese Zeros. He expertly trained the 393rd Bomb Squadron which became the nucleus of the 509th.

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Theodore J. Van Kirk was born February 27, 1921 in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. After high school, he attended Susquehanna University and worked in a grocery store before joining the Air Cadet program of the Army Air Corps in October 1941. He graduated from navigation school and in April 1942 was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant at Kelly Field, Texas. "Dutch" was then assigned to the 97th Bomb Group, flying B17 missions out of England as a navigator with the crew of pilot, Paul Tibbets and bombardier, Tom Ferebee, flying most of those missions in the lead aircraft.

Van Kirk flew 58 missions in England and North Africa before returning to the United States. He was assigned to navigation training and in November 1944 became group navigator of the 509th Composite Group, training for atom bomb delivery. Quietly, in June 1945, the group started moving overseas to the Pacific Island of Tinian in the Marianas chain. Their familiar arrowhead tail markings were changed on both sides to the letter "R" in a circle, standard identification for the Sixth Bomb Group. The idea behind this change was to confuse the enemy if they made contact, which they did not.

On August 6, 1945, Ted "Dutch" Van Kirk was navigator on the first atomic bombing mission. At 2:30am, the Enola Gay lifted off North Field enroute to Hiroshima, Japan. "I knew when we hit the coast of Japan we were well on the way to completing a successful mission and the new bomb we carried would be a great help in shortening the war." At exactly 09:15:15, the world's first atomic bomb exploded. When the Enola Gay landed back on Tinian Island at 2:58pm, the plane and crew were greeted by General Spaatz, a large contingent of brass and jubilant GIs. Van Kirk later participated in the first Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests. Among his decorations are the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with fourteen oak leaf clusters, plus many Theater awards.

In August 1946, having reached the rank of Major, Van Kirk returned to civilian life. He went back to his long-delayed college career earning both a BS and MS degree in chemical engineering at Bucknell University. After 35 years with a major chemical company, he retired in 1985.

A Veteran Remembers...
Memories from a Los Alamos scientist.

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