Hangar that housed Enola Gay placed on endangered list

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WENDOVER -- Many people know Wendover played a big part in the end of World War II, but not a lot of people have actually ever visited the historic airfield.

The hangar that housed the airplane which dropped the atomic bombs on Japan and where training missions took place is in terrible shape. On Tuesday, the hangar was put on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2009 list of the nation's most endangered historic places.

For years, a group has been trying to save it. Now that it's officially "endangered" and help may be on the way.

Thousands of people heading to Wendover pass by the building every week, but very few have ever actually visited it.

Dick Jeppson is a World War II veteran who just had to be at Tuesday's announcement, the hangar was placed on the list of America's most endangered historic places.

The hangar is where the airplane "Enola Gay" was based--the plane which flew over Japan, armed with the atomic bomb. "They were dropped on Japan and quickly ended the war," said Jeppson.

The World War II veteran was on that plane and was the man who armed the bomb: the very last person to touch it before it dropped.

All of his training and the mission's training happened out of the hangar. He said, "It appears to me that the focal point for all of this was Wendover."

Sixty years later, though, the hangar is in rough shape. There are holes in the roof, windows are broken, and rust is everywhere.

Jim Petersen, president of the "Historic Wendover Airfield" group, said its goal is to make the entire place into a museum people can visit. He said, "I think you can feel the efforts of all those people during the war that were on the base that trained and used the building."

Petersen says he understands restoring this hangar could cost millions of dollars, but he also says as important as it is to America's history, it shouldn't matter.

Petersen said, "If it were to fall down 10 years from now, we'd say, ‘Why did we let that go?'"

It's something many, especially Jeppson, hopes is never lost. "It would be an important link in the whole procedure of World War II," he said.

The other sites put on the list are:

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com


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