updated 4/10/2004 10:10:16 PM ET 2004-04-11T02:10:16

Fred Olivi, who copiloted the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, has died. He was 82.

Olivi, a native of Chicago, died Thursday at a rehabilitation center in a Chicago suburb, officials at Panozzo Bros. funeral home said Saturday. He suffered a stroke in August.

The crew of the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945, the crew of the B-29 bomber nicknamed Bockscar dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War II.

“While thousands died, I feel sure the bomb had to be dropped because if the Americans had been forced to invade Japan, it would have been a bloodbath,” Olivi told the Chicago Sun-Times in a 1995 interview.

Olivi was one of many veterans angered by an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution for the 50th anniversary of the bombings.

“It’s slanted more in sympathy to the Japanese than it is to us,” he said in a 1994 interview.

Olivi enlisted with the Army Air Forces immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “He always wanted to fly,” said his older brother, Emil Olivi. “The Air Corps gave him a chance, and he took it.”

After the war, Olivi served in the Air Force Reserve, flying with a troop transport squadron based at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport until 1971. He ended his service as a lieutenant colonel.

Olivi also worked full-time as a manager of bridge operations and maintenance for the city of Chicago until he retired in 1988.

In the mid-1960s, Olivi married Carole McVey, whom he met in high school. She died in 1998.

Until his stroke, Olivi traveled around the country touring air shows, giving speeches, visiting museums and selling his self-published book, “Decision at Nagasaki.”

Besides his brother, survivors include six nieces and nephews.

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