Morris Jeppson, a weapons test officer aboard the Enola Gay who helped arm the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, has died in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 87.
Molly Jeppson, the wife of the Air Force second lieutenant who flew only one combat mission, told The Associated Press on Thursday that her husband died March 30 at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center.
Jeppson's wife said her husband was taken to the hospital several days earlier after complaining of a violent headache.
Molly Jeppson described her husband as a "great, wonderful" man who spoke with her and their children about his role aboard the Enola Gay.
"He told me that he was just doing the job and that's what they all were doing," Molly Jeppson said. "They all felt that way that were on the plane."
A coin toss put Jeppson on the infamous B-29 bomber that dropped the first of two atomic bombs which helped bring an end to World War II.
Jeppson mostly avoided the inevitable spotlight that came with his role in the war, but stepped forward later in his life to ensure his place in history and share his views about the Aug. 6, 1945 bombing that would change the world.
"It's not a proud thing. It was a devastating thing," Jeppson said in a 2003 interview. "It's unfortunate, but it probably saved hundreds of thousands of American lives and many more Japanese lives."
Jeppson's death means navigator Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk is the Enola Gay's last surviving crewman.
Jeppson went to graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, after leaving the military. His wife said they were married 49 years and had spent more than 20 years living in Las Vegas after moving from Carmel, Calif.
Jeppson helmed a handful of high-tech companies and worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Molly Jeppson said her husband did not want services, and that his body was cremated and the ashes spread over the Nevada desert.
Along with his Molly Jeppson, his second wife, Jeppson is survived by brother Lawrence Jeppson of Salt Lake City; two daughters Nancy Hoskins of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Carol English of Medford, Ore., from his first marriage; daughter Sally Jeppson of Gackle, N.D.; stepdaughter Jane Ross of Midland, Ontario; stepsons Mike Sullivan of Pahrump and John Sullivan of Lakeport, Calif.; 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
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