Frederick L. Ashworth, 93, Atomic Bomb Handler, DiesBreaking News
On the morning of Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the B-29 Superfortress named the Bockscar dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, killing and wounding tens of thousands and leaving much of the city in ruin. Within days of those atomic strikes, Japan surrendered, ending World War II.
"My station was in the navigator's compartment, and I had a hole about eight inches in diameter to look out," he told Time magazine on the 60th anniversary of the atomic strikes. "I was the weaponeer - basically, I was in charge of the bomb. We flew to the rendezvous point, where we'd meet two other airplanes, one with instruments to measure the blast and another holding observers. The observer plane didn't show up. We circled, and after about 35 minutes I said to Sweeney, 'Damn it, proceed to the first target.'
"Kokura was the target, but the bombardier couldn't locate it because the area was clouded. So the navigator took us to Nagasaki. We had gotten a report that the area was clear, but we noticed undercast clouds. By this time, we'd used almost an hour's gas at the rendezvous point, and the engineer was really sweating it. It was going to be nip and tuck. I went up to Sweeney and said, 'We're going to be able to make one run on this target - if we're lucky.' I told him to be prepared to use radar. This was in contradiction with orders we'd received that prohibited us from bombing without a visual target sight."
"We were making our approach on radar and getting ready to drop when Beahan cries out, 'I've got the target,' " he recalled, referring to Kermit Beahan, the bombardier. "As we'd gotten over Nagasaki, Beahan had looked into the undercast and saw that it had holes in it. He synched the cross hairs of his bomb-sight telescope and released the bomb."
comments powered by Disqus
- Tales of African-American History Found in DNA
- History Celebrates New Show Roots With Project to Digitize Post-Slavery Documents
- In 1453, this Ottoman sultan ended Christian rule in Constantinople. But was he a good Muslim?
- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation among documents sold for $6.2m in New York
- Family shines light on American POW killed by Hiroshima blast
- History Relevance Campaign meets at the Smithsonian
- Bernard Lewis Turns 100
- David Lowenthal, author of "The Past Is a Foreign Country,” says it’s folly to scratch the names of slaveholders off buildings
- Jean Edward Smith, biographer of FDR and Ike, has a new biography coming out … of George W. Bush
- Flora Fraser, biographer of George and Martha Washington, wins $50,000 George Washington Prize