Local Veteran Has Place In History - 8 News NOW

Brian Allen, Reporter

Local Veteran Has Place In History

Posted: Updated:

(Nov. 11) -- On this Veterans Day, the thoughts of one Las Vegas man return to a day in 1945 when his work helped to end World War 2. He's remained hidden from history for most of the years since then. And it's likely it will remain that way.

It's August 1945. World War 2 is raging. With Adolph Hitler dead, the greatest threat is posed by Japan. A 23-year-old named Morris Jeppson will stop it, in part. "We were instructed to talk to no one else."

Jeppson is now 81 and lives in Las Vegas. He doesn't talk a lot about the secret mission he and 11 other men carried out on Aug. 6 1945. In fact, they didn't know they'd carry out their orders until that very day. "It was a surprise when we were taken out to the airplane to get on board the bomb had already been loaded."

The bomb was named "Little Boy". It would be the first nuclear weapon used in war. Jeppson had to arm the bomb and ensure it would detonate. The crew left their base on Tinian Island in a B29 dubbed "The Enola Gay", headed for Hiroshima, Japan. Jeppson climbed into the plane's bomb bay, while it was in flight, and brought "Little Boy" to life. "The bombardier announced that the bomb was away. I knew from past test missions the count was 43 seconds and I reached 43 second counting in my head and there was no flash."

Jeppson's heart was in his throat. Was the bomb a dud? Had he made a mistake?

"A short second or two after that the flash came and then a couple of three seconds after that the shock wave from the ground from the detonation hit the airplane."

When the bomb detonated, there was no sense of pride or victory on "The Enola Gay", only relief. The crew knew if they failed, allied ground forces would invade Japan, using 2.5 million soldiers. "The invasion became unnecessary and so that was a satisfying feeling for the people on the airplane."

History is close to forgetting Morris Jeppson. A new Smithsonian Museum exhibit on "The Enola Gay" mission is set to open next month near Washington D.C. The exhibit lists only 9 crewmembers. "That would seem to imply, and maybe historically, there were only 9 people on that airplane."

There were 12. Morris Jeppson is one name, which has been omitted. The Smithsonian says the Defense Department only submitted the names of the flight crew. Jeppson was a technician, and not part of the crew. He says he's not offended. He just wants to be remembered. "There were 3 additional people who represent the true purpose of the mission."

Eyewitness News contacted the Department of Defense in Washington D.C., looking for answers as to why the three "Enola Gay" technicians are not being recognized for their efforts. Our inquiries have not been answered.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.