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Nagasaki A-Bomb Weaponeer Dies

Santa Fe, N.M.- Frederick L. "Dick" Ashworth, the weaponeer aboard the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, near the close of World War II, has died.

Ashworth, retired in 1968 as a Navy vice admiral. He died Saturday while undergoing heart surgery.

In the early 1940s, Ashworth was assigned to the New Mexico-based Manhattan Project that built the A-bomb. He was a member of the bomber crew that dropped a weapon nicknamed Fat Man on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Ashworth as assigned as the weaponeer, responsible for arming the bomb during the flight. Death toll estimates in Nagasaki range from 60,000 to 80,000. Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15.

In August, the retired admiral told a historical group that the mission was "fraught with problems" like clouds over the primary target city of Kokura. Ashworth also said the crew worried about a crash landing with the bomb aboard and low fuel after the weapon was dropped.

After the war, he did military liaison work with the Atomic Energy Commission and commanded the Navy's Sixth Fleet, then based in France

Ashworth was born in Beverly, Massachusetts and is survived by his wife, three sons, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

December 7, 2005