'Enola Gay' member highlights Air Force past, present.

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
Some people today don't recognize his name, but Morris Jeppson played a part in shaping the world's history and the America's status as a superpower.

As a second lieutenant assistant weaponeer aboard the "Enola Gay," Mr. Jeppson was to remove the safety plugs from the first nuclear bomb to be used in combat just before reaching the target area, Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. That event changed the course of World War II.

Mr. Jeppson explained that what happened in Hiroshima was a tragedy, but the objective of the attack was to stop the war and prevent the invasion of Japan that the United States had planned. He added that he doesn't think there is a target that would warrant the use of a nuclear weapon again.

Mr. Jeppson was then a member of the Army Air Corps, the Air Force's predecessor, more than 62 years ago. This year he visited Nellis AFB for the first time to attend an air show celebrating the Air Force's 60th birthday. The 84-year-old veteran offered his thoughts on the Air Force's progress over the years.

"I'm delighted that the U.S. Air Force is a separate entity from the Army and Navy," said Mr. Jeppson. "It needs to be, because the Army and the Navy are well established historically, and I think they probably would have held up the evolution of the capabilities of the Air Force over time," he explained.

Mr. Jeppson, a Nevada native, and his wife, Molly, have been living in Las Vegas for about 20 years, but have never visited the base before.

"What we saw today was unbelievable," he said. "The F-22 and the sort of things it can do in the sky, I don't think any other airplane can do. I think it's very exciting and very impressive."

Although Mr. Jeppson left the service to pursue a career in physics shortly after the bombing, his confidence in the military remained.

"I have great faith in the Air force and in what it can do and what it is doing for this country," said the veteran. "As for the Airmen, keep doing what you are doing."