Charles Donald Albury, 88, the copilot of the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki - and a longtime Eastern Airlines captain after World War II - died May 23 at an Orlando, Fla., hospital.

On Aug. 6, 1945, Mr. Albury flew a support plane - the Great Artiste - for the mission of Col. Paul Tibbets Jr., who unleashed the nuclear age with an A-bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Three days later, Tibbets dispatched First Lt. Albury, pilot Maj. Charles Sweeney, an eight-man crew, and a nuclear weapon called Fat Man aboard the B-29 Bockscar from the Mariana Islands.

Though plagued with complications and missteps, the mission ultimately succeeded. The crew released the bulbous, 10,200-pound explosive over the city of Nagasaki, instantly killing about 40,000 civilians. An additional 35,000 subsequently died from injuries and radiation sickness.

For the rest of his life, Mr. Albury - as did Tibbets, who died in 2007 - said he felt no remorse, since the attacks averted what was certain to be a catastrophic U.S. invasion of Japan.

"My husband was a hero," said Roberta Albury, his wife of 65 years. "He saved one million people."

- McClatchy Newspapers