Obit of the Day: The Man Who Dropped the Last U.S. Bomb of WWII

The war did not immediately end after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs on August 6 and 9,1945. For several more days U.S. continued sending fleets of B-29 Superfortresses to drop traditional and incediary munitions on the Japanese mainland in the hopes of not only inflicting damage and casualties but sinking morale.

On August 14, 1945, Slim II, a B-29 named by actress Lauren Bacall for her husband Humphrey Bogart, took off as part of the last massive bombing mission of World War II. Slim II and its crew were set to target the city of Kumagaya, while more than 850 other B-29s hit other cities in the Tokyo region. (Bombings had ceased on August 10 and leaflet campaigns were the focus for several days preceding August 14, but talks between the U.S. and Japan had stalled, resulting in the resumption of mainland air attacks.)

When first officer Lt. William “Bill” Schreck dropped Slim II's bombs on his target he did not realize that they were the last of World War II. When Lt. Schreck and the nine other members of crew returned to base they learned that Emperor Hirohito had read the official notice of surrender, or the “Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War,” at Noon on August 15, 1945.

Within days reporters learned of Lt. Schreck’s historic moment and it became his “fifteen minutes of celebrity” as papers across the nation wrote articles on the man who dropped the last bombs of World War II.

Following the war, Mr. Schreck left the military and earned an Ed.D. in education and served in various leadership roles including as an advisor to Brazil’s minister of education and as the superintendant of all Deparment of Defense schools in Puerto Rico.

Bill Schreck died on December 15, 2014 at the age of ninety. He is survived by Virginia, his wife of 64 years.

Sources: Sacramento Bee, KCRA News, and Wikipedia

(Image of William “Bill” Schreck from World War II is courtesy of the Schreck Family via the Sacramento Bee)

Also of interest on Obit of the Day:

Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk - The last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay