|Born||23 Feb 1915|
|Died||1 Nov 2007|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbasePaul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. was born in Quincy, Illinois, United States to Paul Tibbets, Sr. and Enola Gay Haggard Tibbets. He was raised in Cedar Rapid and Des Moines, Iowa, United States where his father was a confections wholesaler. In the 1930s, he attended the University of Florida. On 25 Feb 1937, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as a flying cadet at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, United States. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1938. By Mar 1942, he was the commanding officer of the 340th Bomb Squadron of the 97th Heavy Bomb Group. On 17 Aug 1942, from RAF Polebrook in the United Kingdom, he flew the lead bomber of 8th Air Force's first bombing mission in Europe. He also flew several missions in the Mediterranean Theater. His reputation as a pilot was superb, resulting in him serving as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal pilot on several occasions.
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1944, Tibbets was assigned to command a group based at Wendover Army Air Field in Utah, United States, which later became the 509th Composite Group selected to deliver the resulting bomb from the Manhattan Project. On 5 Aug 1945, he formally named his B-29 Superfortress bomber "Enola Gay" after his mother. At 0245 on the next day, Colonel Tibbets lifted off from Tinian Island in the Mariana Islands ever so carefully with the atomic bomb "Little Boy". Two specialists assembled the weapon mid-flight, and bombardier Thomas Ferebee dropped the bomb over Hiroshima, Japan at 0815 local time. The bomb took 43 seconds to fall. After the long 43 seconds, Tibbets saw something he could never have imagined:
ww2dbaseThe blast killed about 140,000 people, with many more dying later.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Tibbets remained in the military, joining the newly formed United States Air Force. Eventually reaching the rank of brigadier general in 1959, he retired from active service on 31 Aug 1966. After retirement, he worked for the civilian air line Executive Jet Aviation based in Columbus, Ohio, United States; between 1976 and 1987, he served as the president of the company. In 1976, he re-enacted the Hiroshima bombing, which was viewed by many as inappropriate; the US government issued an official apology for the re-enactment. Although apologetic about the 1976 re-enactment, he consistently noted that he had no regrets of using the atomic bomb. "If you give me the same circumstances, hell yeah, I'd do it again", he said. "Thousands of former soldiers and military family members have expressed a particularly touching and personal gratitude suggesting that they might not be alive today had it been necessary to resort to an invasion of the Japanese home islands to end the fighting."
ww2dbaseTibbets passed away in 2007 in his home in Columbus, Ohio at the age of 92. He specifically noted in his will that he wanted neither funeral service nor a headstone so to avoid protesters.
ww2dbaseSources: BBC, Wikipedia.
Paul Tibbets Timeline
|23 Feb 1915||Paul Tibbets was born.|
|1 Nov 2007||Paul Tibbets passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945