In this May 21, 2009 file photo, Theodore "Dutch'' Van Kirk visits a veterans group in Macon, Ga. / Beau Cabell, AP
ATLANTA - The last surviving crew member of the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan during World War II has died.
Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk died of natural causes Monday at a retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, The Associated Press reported, citing his son Tom Van Kirk. Theodore Van Kirk was 93 years old.
Van Kirk was the navigator aboard the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped an atomic bomb called "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 people. Van Kirk was 24 years old at the time.
In a 2010 interview with WXIA, Van Kirk said he had no second thoughts about his part in the historic event.
"You have to understand the Japan we fought was significantly different from the Japan in later years," he said.
Tom Van Kirk said he and his siblings are fortunate to have had such a wonderful father who remained active until the end of his life.
"I know he was recognized as a war hero, but we just knew him as a great father," he said in a telephone interview with the AP on Tuesday.
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