University Archives


Enola Gay Navigator Dutch Van Kirk Assigned to “Silver Plate Project” THEODORE “DUTCH” VAN KIRK. Copy of Special Orders No. 277, October 3, 1944, assigning Van Kirk to “Silver Plate Project” at Wendover Field, Utah, signed in margin by Van Kirk as “Dutch Van Kirk / Navigator – Enola Gay / 6 Aug. 1945.” 1 p., 8.5" x 11". Excellent. These orders transferred Captain Van Kirk from the Instructional School to Wendover Field, Utah, where he would be part of the “Silver Plate Project,” the code name for the pilot and crew training program for the atomic bomb missions. Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk (1921-2014) was born in Pennsylvania and joined the Army Air Force Aviation Program in October 1941. In 1942, he transferred to the 97th Bomb Group, which flew B-17 Flying Fortresses out of England. There he met pilot Paul Tibbets and bombardier Tom Ferebee. After flying 58 missions in Europe, Van Kirk returned to the United States in 1943 as an instructor navigator. Late in 1944, he reunited with Tibbets and Ferebee at Wendover Air Force Base, Utah, as part of the 509th Composite Group. In August 1945, he served as the navigator of the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, when it dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. After the war, Van Kirk completed degrees in chemical engineering at Bucknell University and held various technical and managerial positions in research and marketing at DuPont for the next thirty-five years. From 2010 to his death in 2014, Van Kirk was the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew. This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses. WE PROVIDE IN-HOUSE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE.

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