Enola Gay Weapons Specialist Dies

Morris "Dick" Jeppson's only combat mission was aboard the Enola Gay

The story of mankind’s first use of nuclear weapons in war has always fascinated me.

Who were the men who designed and built these weapons? And who were the men who delivered it? How did they personally justify, cope and live with the unspeakable destruction of civilian life, including women and children, caused by their actions?

One by one, the people involved in these events are passing away. With the death of Weapons Specialist Morris “Dick” Jeppson on March 30, at the age of 87, there is only one person from the Enola Gay crew still alive today: Navigator Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, who is 89 this year.

On August 6, 1945, it was Jeppson’s job, along with Navy Capt. William “Deak” Parsons, to arm the bomb that ended up destroying Hiroshima, and killing somewhere between 90,000 and 160,000 people within months. (Many others died from wounds and from the effects of radioactive contamination in decades to come).

After the war, Jeppson studied toward a doctorate in physics at UC Berkeley. He working at Berkeley’s radiation laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore laboratory, both here in California.

He also founded a number of companies, including Applied Radiation Corp., which built electron-beam accelerators for nuclear physics research, and Cryodry Corp., a maker of industrial microwave ovens.

Jeppson lived in Carmel, California, and retired to Las Vegas 20 years ago. He did not speak about the bombing in public until 1995, and even then, his comments were laconic: “You had a job to do, you just did it.”

Obituary in the Los Angeles Times


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Journalist and media professional currently based in Los Angeles, California. Focusing on science and technology.