Seen from Above
By John Deppen
AS A BOY IN NORTHUMBERLAND,THEODORE "DUTCH" VAN KIRK NEVER DREAMED HE WOULD ONE DAY sign autographs, or that fame's spotlight would shine on him in ways both comfortable and uncomfortable.
Van Kirk graduated from Northumberland High School in 1938. He described his boyhood in a television interview as like that of "Huckleberry Finn," rowing flats of coal up and down the Susquehanna River for his father. After high school, Van Kirk attended Susquehanna University for a time, but was enthralled with advertisements about the Army Air Force Aviation Cadet Program. When Van Kirk joined the cadet program in October 1941, he looked to the skies with a mixture of excitement and dread.
"The war hadn’t been declared yet, but you didn't have to be too smart to see that we were going to be in it," Van Kirk remembered. Two months later, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. At the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States Congress declared war the next day.
.....Read the full story in the magazine!
Return to the index