The Last Crewman of the Enola Gay Has Died


jeremysteele

macrumors 6502
Jul 13, 2011
416
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They stopped an evil war, why would they not be. Plus wouldn't it be Truman that would be the one that needs forgiveness. He ordered the drop.
Agreed.

It is sad that they barely teach in school how absolutely (insane)/different Japan was in those days.. Entire villages in the pacific were killing themselves (women, and children, sometimes men) when the US reached their doorsteps. They performed suicide missions for honor. When they ran out of bullets they would run into battle with bayonets. Literally tens of thousands of Japanese were dead of their own accord.

How were they supposed to "liberate" a country who killed themselves when the US got close? (and took out hundreds/thousands of our own soldiers in the mean time...)

---

While in retrospect we now know Japan was close to surrendering without the bomb, it did end the war virtually overnight.
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
1,317
11,832
Midlife, Midwest
It won't be much longer until all WWII vets have died.:
The last World War ONE vets only died in the last few years. (Harry Patch, the last surviving solider to have actually fought in WWI trenches died - aged 111 - in 2009.

Given that fairly large numbers of German and Soviet troops fought at ages as young as 14, and plenty of US and British soldiers enlisted as underage 16 year olds - it seems at least plausible that we'll see WWII veterans still living through 2040 or so. (Estimates are that as many as 250,000 US soldiers lied about their age in order to enlist.)
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,038
16,520
The Misty Mountains
War is a human failure we excel at. :( I do consider WWII to be as "just" a war as war can be. I've always wondered how being involved in the extermination of 100k+ humans with a button push would make the average person feel? Even Truman weighed the relative death toll as reports were that the Japanese would fight to the death if the allies invaded the mainland. Regarding fire bombing of Germany, the movie Slaughter House 5 had an impact on me. Great movie btw. I've been meaning to watch it again. ;)

 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Everyone remembers the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The plane was put in the Smithsonian. And the media talks about the crew. Ever notice that nobody remembers the plane Bockscar which dropped the only other atomic bomb used in war on the city of Nagasaki? Did you ever hear of Major Sweeny? He died in '04. He was the pilot. There was a crew of 11. I wonder if any of them are still alive.
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
6,255
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Everyone remembers the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The plane was put in the Smithsonian. And the media talks about the crew. Ever notice that nobody remembers the plane Bockscar which dropped the only other atomic bomb used in war on the city of Nagasaki? Did you ever hear of Major Sweeny? He died in '04. He was the pilot. There was a crew of 11. I wonder if any of them are still alive.
Bockscar is in the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

What's a bit ironic is that Bockscar was preserved and put into a museum first back in 1961. Enola Gay was allowed to decay and had to be restored from 1984 to 2003 when it entered the Smithsonian( the fuselage was displayed between 1995-1998 and was vandalized during that time while the rest of the airframe was restored).
 

aaronvan

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Dec 21, 2011
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I hope these men are forgiven in Heaven!
Actually, Jesus Christ is prostrating himself at the feet of Mr. Theodore Van Kirk, who sits upon a golden throne seven cubits high.

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Everyone remembers the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The plane was put in the Smithsonian. And the media talks about the crew. Ever notice that nobody remembers the plane Bockscar which dropped the only other atomic bomb used in war on the city of Nagasaki? Did you ever hear of Major Sweeny? He died in '04. He was the pilot. There was a crew of 11. I wonder if any of them are still alive.
Major Sweeny's grandson is a B-2 pilot at Whiteman AFB, MO. No joke.
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
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Major Sweeny's grandson is a B-2 pilot at Whiteman AFB, MO. No joke.
Same with Tibbets' grandson. He was assigned to the same 509th bomb wing Tibbets commanded back in WWII. Then he commanded the 393th Bomb Squadron which is also at Whiteman and compromised of B-2's.
 
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aaronvan

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Same with Tibbets' grandson. He was assigned to the same 509th bomb wing Tibbets commanded back in WWII. Then he commanded the 393th Bomb Squadron which is also at Whiteman and compromised of B-2's.
You know, I think I mixed-up Sweeny with Tibbets. Anyway, his call sign was...wait for it...Nuke!

Obviously. :)
 

DonJudgeMe

macrumors regular
Feb 21, 2014
123
2
Arizona
It's crazy how fast time goes by... I will definitely cherish all of the conversations I have had with World War ll vets. It may sound cliche, but they really don't make 'em like that anymore. RIP
 

mobilehaathi

macrumors G3
Aug 19, 2008
9,344
6,213
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Let's not forget this...

Theodore Van Kirk said:
The whole World War II experience shows that wars don't settle anything. And atomic weapons don't settle anything. I personally think there shouldn't be any atomic bombs in the world, I'd like to see them all abolished.
 

jolux

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2014
171
1
I hope these men are forgiven in Heaven!
I hope they regretted their actions before they died, because this was they only life they got.

They stopped an evil war, why would they not be. Plus wouldn't it be Truman that would be the one that needs forgiveness. He ordered the drop.
A Russian submarine operator was ordered to launch nuclear missiles at the US. He refused. These men could have done the same thing.

Agreed.

It is sad that they barely teach in school how absolutely (insane)/different Japan was in those days.. Entire villages in the pacific were killing themselves (women, and children, sometimes men) when the US reached their doorsteps. They performed suicide missions for honor. When they ran out of bullets they would run into battle with bayonets. Literally tens of thousands of Japanese were dead of their own accord.

How were they supposed to "liberate" a country who killed themselves when the US got close? (and took out hundreds/thousands of our own soldiers in the mean time...)

---

While in retrospect we now know Japan was close to surrendering without the bomb, it did end the war virtually overnight.
We could have easily stopped the war on our own, without the bombs. When Truman was told of the atomic bomb test's success, he was in the middle of a negotiation session. Eyewitnesses said that his demeanor immediately relaxed.

Negotiation is difficult. It can be painful. But it's sure as **** not as painful as getting vaporized or burned to death or drinking water tainted with the blood of your friends and family or dying of radiation poisoning.

Truman wanted an easy way out, and he was given one. There are no easy ways out in negotiation. He could have let Japan keep their emperor, who the public of the time revered as a deity, but in line with the "the American way is the best way and the only way we'll let you have it" mentality of the last nearing 250 years, he could never let that happen. No, the war could not end until Japan was a functioning democracy.
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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Truman wanted an easy way out, and he was given one. There are no easy ways out in negotiation. He could have let Japan keep their emperor, who the public of the time revered as a deity, but in line with the "the American way is the best way and the only way we'll let you have it" mentality of the last nearing 250 years, he could never let that happen. No, the war could not end until Japan was a functioning democracy.
In matter of fact the US did offer to let them keep their emperor right before the dropping of the bombs. The hardliners took that change of the surrender terms as a softening of the US's will to fight and convinced to continue.

They were still ready to continue to fight even after the bombs being dropped. It took the emperor himself to command his military to surrender.

And how were the carpet bombings any different from the atomic bombs outside of the radiation poisoning? Carpet bombing was just as destructive and killed just as many people. It just didn't have the radiation effects.
 

MacNut

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Jan 4, 2002
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Negotiation is difficult. It can be painful. But it's sure as **** not as painful as getting vaporized or burned to death or drinking water tainted with the blood of your friends and family or dying of radiation poisoning.
What about all of the men that were ambushed at Pearl Harbor? Why should we have let Japan off the hook? They played dirty during WWII. Their solders didn't care who they hurt or killed in the process but we were the bad guys when we ended the war?
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
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What about all of the men that were ambushed at Pearl Harbor? Why should we have let Japan off the hook? They played dirty during WWII. Their solders didn't care who they hurt or killed in the process but we were the bad guys when we ended the war?
To be fair Pearl Harbor was an embarrassment to Japan as well. The plan was to have had declared war on the US before the attack( but short enough to still catch us off guard and still wipe out the Pacific Fleet). But the transmission of it was botched and ended up being the ambush and surprise attack, but was not intended to be one.

Of course that wasn't Japan's only botch that day. The execution of the attack was also flawed.
 

jolux

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2014
171
1
In matter of fact the US did offer to let them keep their emperor right before the dropping of the bombs. The hardliners took that change of the surrender terms as a softening of the US's will to fight and convinced to continue.

They were still ready to continue to fight even after the bombs being dropped. It took the emperor himself to command his military to surrender.

And how were the carpet bombings any different from the atomic bombs outside of the radiation poisoning? Carpet bombing was just as destructive and killed just as many people. It just didn't have the radiation effects.
http://www.authentichistory.com/1939-1945/1-war/4-Pacific/4-abombdecision/3-against/

Read this and decide for yourself.

I'm not advocating carpet bombing either. What kind of an idiot do you take me for?

Can you link me to the source of the "keep the emperor" offer?
What about all of the men that were ambushed at Pearl Harbor? Why should we have let Japan off the hook? They played dirty during WWII. Their solders didn't care who they hurt or killed in the process but we were the bad guys when we ended the war?
We played dirty too. The allies bombed civilian cities in Germany, and lest you forget what we're talking about here, we interned Japanese Americans (citizens) and we bombed the **** out of their country.

Japan was undoubtedly a terrible force in WWII. The Rape of Nanking among other massive genocides were undoubtedly awful. But you don't fight fire with fire. You especially don't fight fire by dropping a horrible experimental weapon on it.
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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Can you link me to the source of the "keep the emperor" offer?
It was in this documentary made by the BBC.

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70050325?movieid=70050325&trkid=222336&strkid=303863707_0_0

I think the specific terms stated in the documentary was the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military( where before it was the Japanese government). While not specifically stated, it was intended to say the emperor could stay. But the military guys took it as a softening of our will to fight.
 

MacNut

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Jan 4, 2002
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We played dirty too. The allies bombed civilian cities in Germany, and lest you forget what we're talking about here, we interned Japanese Americans (citizens) and we bombed the **** out of their country.

Japan was undoubtedly a terrible force in WWII. The Rape of Nanking among other massive genocides were undoubtedly awful. But you don't fight fire with fire. You especially don't fight fire by dropping a horrible experimental weapon on it.
War is bad and there were a lot of mistakes made. WWII has to be one of the darkest days in human history. We just need to make sure something like that never happens again or the consequences will be much worse the second time around.
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
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Negotiation is difficult. It can be painful. But it's sure as **** not as painful as getting vaporized or burned to death or drinking water tainted with the blood of your friends and family or dying of radiation poisoning.

Truman wanted an easy way out, and he was given one. There are no easy ways out in negotiation. He could have let Japan keep their emperor, who the public of the time revered as a deity, but in line with the "the American way is the best way and the only way we'll let you have it" mentality of the last nearing 250 years, he could never let that happen. No, the war could not end until Japan was a functioning democracy.
Japan launched an unprovoked attack directly on the U.S. and continued to commit atrocities throughout the war without a shred of remorse. Japan wanted to take control of vast areas of East Asia and any successful negotiation would have greatly compromised the human rights of everyone in the region and perhaps much further.

Should we have negotiated with Germany too? Perhaps left Hitler in power and say given him most of Western Europe and limited his exterminations to maybe 200,000 people a year?

While I agree that we should avoid war whenever its possible to do so, its often not feasible to negotiate with certain world powers without destroying your own right to exist.
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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Japan launched an unprovoked attack directly on the U.S. and continued to commit atrocities throughout the war without a shred of remorse. Japan wanted to take control of vast areas of East Asia and any successful negotiation would have greatly compromised the human rights of everyone in the region and perhaps much further.
Wouldn't say unprovoked exactly. Our economic sanctions( particularly on oil) was hurting Japan. Not saying we should have let them do as they please without consequences, but with Japan's ambitions they needed to get the US to trade with them again hence the attack. And of course it was meant to be a crippling blow where we would be forced to trade with them. They did not want a prolonged war with the US as they knew they didn't have the military power to engage in one( or at least Yamamoto did).

Of course there were several blunders in the execution of the attack. First and foremost is the botched transmission of the declaration of war which made it appear to be a surprise attack and gave the US a strong will to fight. Second the failure to sink the carriers. Yamamoto made it a point that they had to be sunk. But the admiral in charge of the execution of the attack was still in the mindset of the BB's being king so he launched the attack even knowing the carriers were not at Pearl. Third they left our fuel depot and dry docks undamaged. That enabled us to still fuel our fleet and repair the ships at Pearl. If they managed to destroy those, they would have delayed our ability to fight back and rebuild our fleet.