Tibbits remarked once, “The guys who appreciated that I saved their asses are mostly dead now.” Tibbits went on to offer that “in war, there is no morality”.
Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb onHiroshima, died Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio after suffering a number of health problems. He was 92.
Tibbets’ wishes were not to have a funeral or a headstone. His confidant Gerry Newhouse explained that Tibbets had concerns that his detractors would protest at his gravesite.
Tibbets enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky in February, 1937. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1938 and received his wings at Kelly Field, Texas. Tibbets was named commanding officer of the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Heavy Bomb Group flying B-17 Flying Fortresses in March, 1942.
He piloted the lead bomber on the first Eighth Air Force bombing mission in Europe Aug. 17, 1942, and also flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Tibbets returned to the United States. to test fly B-29 Superfortresses.
Tibbets “by reputation” was “the best flier in the Army Air Force”.
Aug.5, 1945, Tibbets named the B-29, serial number 44-86292, the Enola Gay after his mother. At 2:45 a.m. of Aug. 6, 1945, Tibbets flew the Enola Gay from Tinian Island in the Marianas for Japan. At 8:15 a.m., the atomic bomb, codenamed Little Boy, was dropped over Hiroshima. Soon after, the war ended.
On March 15, 2005 I attended the Titusville Airshow, and was lucky enough to “meet” General Tibbets. It was amazing, at his age, the schedule he kept with hundreds of people in line for autographs and pictures. Way more patience than what I would have.