"On an early August morning in 1945, a Boeing Silverplate B-29 Superfortress took-off from the Tinian airfield amidst an unpublicized Hollywood-like atmosphere for the first atomic strike mission in the history of civilization. The young captain made his first notation, Time Takeoff 0245, as he again performed his duties to keep the pilot on course across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. So began Special Mission No. 13 with hopes to bring an end to the devastation and killing of millions that occurred during World War II."
The above passage, taken from "My True Course," Dutch Van Kirk, Northumberland to Hiroshima is the authorized biography of Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, a self-described Huck Finn from Pennsylvania, and one of the "greatest generation." Local historian and author Suzanne Simon Dietz tells Van Kirk's story through unedited correspondence to and from home and first-person vignettes, from the early heavy bombing raids in B-17s by the 97th Bombardment Group of German occupied Europe, Operation Torch in North Africa, to the gripping account of the atomic bomb mission of Hiroshima.
Van Kirk's own "band of brothers" - his neighbors, a former prisoner of war held by the Japanese for three years and the officer of the deck on the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, and five brother-in-laws who also served - add to this authentic and unique step back in time. Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot on Plane No. 1, opens the publication with a "Voice from the Doolittle Raid."
Lewiston-Porter area individuals assisted Dietz in this historic venture. Amy Lynn Freiermuth of BeauDesigns did the layout and design work, and Carol L. Force and Lt. Col Nelson L. Beard, USAF, retired, were among the group who helped with editing. The late Dr. Leonard Pepkowitz, a former Lewiston resident, was one of the Los Alamos scientists and is included in this historical work.
Extensive research at the National Archives, documentation from the Truman Library, the navigation log of the Hiroshima mission, and attic treasures - 100 plus photos and more - offer the reader a look into life during this global war from the home front to the air battles across four continents.
Dietz's sixth publication is available from bookstores and the Youngstown Free Library.