August marked the 70th anniversary of the ending of World War II, and I would like to acknowledge all those who served in Operation Silver Plate, a secret project to drop two atomic bombs on Japan.

On Aug. 9, 1945, on the tiny island of Tinian, a B-29 superfortress named the Bockscar took to the skies by the second and last military officer to command an atomic bombing mission. He was a 25-year-old major named Charles W. Sweeney of Milton, Mass.

Sweeney had the distinction of flying both atomic bombing missions. He flew the instrumentation plane on the first mission, commanded by Col. Paul Tibbets, which bombed Hiroshima. Sweeney commanded and flew the second mission dropping the only atomic bomb left on Nagasaki.

I knew Sweeney and last heard from him in 1997, when he told me his book, “Wars End: An Eyewitness Account of America’s Last Atomic Mission,” had been published and he sent me a copy. He said he retired as a major general, as did Paul Tibbets. Charlie died in 2004; Tibbets in 2007.

On July 28, 2014, 93-year-old Theodore Van Kirk, the last member of the Enola Gay crew, passed away. The last member of Bockscar’s crew, Capt. Donald Albury, died in 2009. Sadly the members of these great crews are not much remembered any more.

Frank D. Slason


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