Revisiting the Enola GayCHANTILLY, Va. — He stared at it intently for several moments, oblivious to his surroundings. And at the time, Bill Bousema’s surroundings were rather interesting.
CHANTILLY, Va. — He stared at it intently for several moments, oblivious to his surroundings. And at the time, Bill Bousema’s surroundings were rather interesting.
During the second Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight, the last stop on the whirlwind tour was a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The museum is home to the Enterprise space shuttle and includes a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, the “Dash 80” prototype for the 707 and the sole-surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner.
It also houses the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, which is what had caught Bousema’s attention. Sitting back in his wheelchair, he lifted a camera to his face and snapped a photograph.
“This is the second time I’ve taken a picture of her,” he said. “The first was in Okinawa, Japan, when she stopped to refuel after dropping the bomb.”
On Aug. 6, 1945, Bousema was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, stationed in Okinawa. Born near Hull, Iowa, and having grown up near Sheldon, Iowa, he received a notice to report to the O’Brien County Courthouse in March 1943. He spent about 15 months in Hawaii before being transferred to Japan.
The day the Enola Gay stopped for fuel, Bousema happened to be nearby with a camera, so he took a snapshot. Sixty-five years later, he was taking another under totally different circumstances.
As the Sanborn, Iowa, man looked over the aircraft built in Bellevue, Neb., he gave a quick shrug.
“It looks pretty much the same,” he said with a grin.