RIP Theodore Van KirkAnd millions of Japanese owed their lives to that mission as well. War Department estimates of Japanese civilian casualties in the planned Operation Downfall ran as high as ten million. This is a fine tribute to a man who I had not known lived only a few miles from Camp Borepatch:
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Van Kirk a few years ago. He kindly autographed a photograph for me.
Had it not been for him and the crew of the Enola Gay and the Bock's Car my Uncle Robert, Uncle Jack, Uncle Jim and Father-in-law Joe would have been in invasion of Japan. Operation Olympic, Oct. 1945.
Given the JCS estimated over 1,000,000 casualties (1/4 Million fatalities) my cousins and THEIR children owe a great deal to Mr. Van Kirk and his cohorts.
Bravo Zulu, sir. Bravo Zulu. Fair winds and following seas.Like many World War II veterans, VanKirk didn't talk much about his service until much later in his life when he spoke to school groups, his son said."I didn't even find out that he was on that mission until I was 10 years old and read some old news clippings in my grandmother's attic," Tom VanKirk told the AP in a phone interview Tuesday.Instead, he and his three siblings treasured a wonderful father, who was a great mentor and remained active and "sharp as a tack" until the end of his life."I know he was recognized as a war hero, but we just knew him as a great father," Tom VanKirk said.