Claude Eatherly

Given NameClaude
Born2 Oct 1918
Died1 Jul 1978
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseMajor Claude Eatherly was the pilot of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group, United States Army Air Forces B-29 Superfortress bomber "Straight Flush". At 0137 hours on 6 Aug 1945, he took off from Tinian in the Mariana Islands, one hour ahead of the bomber "Enola Gay", for Hiroshima, Japan. His crew members evaluated weather conditions over Hiroshima, and radioed the "Enola Gay" to proceed with the plan to release the atomic bomb over the city. After WW2, he was released from the military in 1947 for cheating on a written test. Immediately following his release, he was involved in a conspiracy of Americans attempting to overthrow the Cuban government. He was to fly one of the P-38 Lightning aircraft laden with bombs. The conspiracy was uncovered, and he was arrested, spending some time in jail for his part. Later in his life, he began sending parts of his paychecks to the city of Hiroshima, along with letters of apology. Later, he began committing crimes on small scales to benefit others, such as forging checks and donate the money illegally obtained in the process to a fund for the children of Hiroshima. Other crimes he committed included holding up banks and individuals without actually taking anything. He was convicted of forgery in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, and served a year in prison beginning in 1954. In 1957, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity during another trial for robbing two post offices in Texas, United States; the court released him into the custody of his brother. In the late 1950s, he was held by the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Waco, Texas for possible mental disorders. In 1961, his brother tried to have Eatherly declared insane at a 1961 juried hearing at Waco. While in the hospital, he began to correspond with Viennese philosopher and pacifist G√ľnther Anders, with whom they worked to lobby for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The media at the time blamed his mental instability to his guilt for having participated in the Hiroshima bombing, but scholars today wonder if his problems, which also included gambling, were really not connected to the war. Some reasons supporting that view include the fact that his aircraft did not actually drop the devastating bomb, and he did not witness the actual explosion. Eatherly's first wife claimed that part of his problem stemmed from the disappointment for not being chosen as the pilot of the actual bombing aircraft, a view which was supported by some of his flight crew.

Harvard University Gazette

Last Major Revision: Aug 2009

Claude Eatherly Timeline

2 Oct 1918 Claude Eatherly was born.
1 Jul 1978 Claude Eatherly passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

5 May 2014 10:03:15 PM

2. Annette Eatherly Kemp says:
26 Jul 2015 02:39:49 PM

I am his daughter, I think I know who my dad was and no one has ever asked me, Don't you think most ex wife's usually say negative thoughts or they wouldn't have gotten a divorce. And why would you ask here instead of speaking to his real family? Not all true.
3. Riccardo Fazi says:
10 Nov 2016 01:24:05 PM

Dear Annette,

sorry if I am writing you here, but it's the only way for me to reach you since I don't have any of your contacts.
I am a theatre playwright from Italy. I am working on a piece about your father and it would be of great help to me to get in touch with you and have the possibility to ask you some questions. If you think this could be possible you can write me back on
Thank you very much,
4. Irene says:
4 Dec 2016 01:39:33 AM

Dear Annette,
I am a Spanish writer, at the moment I am writing about your father and would very much like to contact you. I think there is a big story that needs to be told. I have looked for you in FB and TW but only found this. Please contact me at
I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks very much
5. Sudhir says:
21 Mar 2019 11:51:50 PM

The article says immediately after release from service in 1947 he participated in flying weapons for anti-communist rebels in Cuba. However, the communists came in power in Cuba only in 1959. Were the weapons for Castro then? Will be grateful for clarification.
6. Sudhir says:
22 Mar 2019 06:23:41 AM

A correction to my query above: The 26th of July Movement was started by Castro in 1953, so Claude Eatherly could not have flown the weapons for Castro either.
7. Dr. Diane Holloway Cheney says:
22 Apr 2020 05:30:27 PM

My boss, psychiatrist Asa William DeLoach, supervised the Waco VA Psychiatric unit when Eatherly was treated there. Dr. DeLoach took me to visit Eatherly when Bertrand Russell was contacted to defend Eatherly in the foreword to a book about him. I had marched with Russell in a ban the bomb parade in London in 1959 so Dr. DeLoach wanted me to decide whether to oppose whatever Russell might say, having never seen Mr. Eatherly. I met Claude who was mainly saying "I don't know why nobody ever paid attention to me since I gave the signal for Tibbets to drop the bomb. This is injustice." Those aren't quite his words but close because that was nearly 60 years ago.
8. Dr. Diane E. Cheney says:
24 Apr 2020 02:27:29 PM

Interesting question. I don't know what Eatherly was doing at that point about Castro but I'll tell you who did want to get involved in getting equipment to Castro and you're going to be surprised. Jack Ruby. See my book called Dallas and the Jack Ruby Trial in fact I was on a TV show about all the stuff Ruby tried to do to become famous. Thanks for your interest in Eatherly--unusual man.

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