Saluting Our Military: In Memoriam…

Since I was raised a military ‘brat’, it’ll be no secret to anyone that my heroes are those who have served We The People in the military. Today we’ll look at a man whose most famous and difficult mission was the one being talked about today, 71 years later. If you look up Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets online, you’ll find countless pictures and articles written (both good and bad) about the mission over Hiroshima. The following is from an obituary printed in the UK, from a website set up by Ret. General Paul W. Tibbets, and from an interview he had with Studs Turkel. W2

Brigadier General Paul Warfield Tibbets

“.. To our fellow veterans and the American nation we all echo one sentiment, “I pray that reason will prevail among leaders before we ever again need to call upon our nuclear might. There are no regrets. We were proud to have served like so many men and women stationed around the world today. To them, to you, we salute you and goodbye.”..”

Columbus, Ohio (August 6, 2005) – On this occasion, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew would like the opportunity to issue a joint statement.

This year, 2005, marks the sixtieth year since the end of World War II. The
summer of 1945 was indeed an anxious one as allied and American forces gathered
for the inevitable invasion of the Japanese homeland. President Truman made one
last demand, one final appeal. Together with Great Britain’s Churchill, and
Russia’s Stalin, the President of the United States urged the Japanese to
” … proclaim the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces …
The alternative,” they said, “for Japan is prompt and utter destruction”.
Ignoring the obvious military situation, the Japanese Prime Minister Baron
Kantaro Suzuki issued the Japanese refusal to surrender which included these
words: “… there is no other recourse but to ignore it [the surrender
demand] entirely and resolutely fight for the successful conclusion of the
war.”

While it is certainly unfortunate this course of action was necessary, for the
allies, at that moment in time, there was no other choice. Secretary of War
Henry Stinson wrote, “The decision to use the atomic bomb … was our least
abhorrent choice”. President Harry S. Truman approved the order to use the
atomic bomb. It was his decision and his hope to avoid an invasion of the
Japanese homeland. An invasion that would have cost tens of thousands of
Japanese and allied lives.”

The Enola Gay

Just after 8.15am Japanese time, on August 6 1945, six miles above Hiroshima, a Boeing B29 bomber, the Enola Gay, commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets, who has died aged 92, carried out the world’s first atomic attack. Of 320,000 people in that city that morning, 80,000 died immediately or were badly wounded by the A-bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy”. The site of the explosion reached a temperature of 5,400°F. Days later, thousands of incinerated, blackened cadavers still adhered to the streets.

The A-bomb

In the aftermath of the bomb’s release, Tibbets flung the huge B29 into a 155° turn to avoid destruction. Shock and horror swept over the 12-strong crew, he recalled. “Fellows,” he had said, “you have just dropped the first atom bomb in history.” Only Tibbets and US navy captain William “Deke” Parsons – who completed the assembly, and armed Little Boy en route to Japan – had been privy to the secret of the Manhattan Project, the US atomic bomb programme.

Three days after Hiroshima, Nagasaki was A-bombed, with up to 40,000 killed. On August 14 1945, the Japanese emperor broadcast to his people that they must “bear the unbearable” and surrender. The causal link between Tibbets’ mission and Hirohito’s announcement remained a hotly debated issue. The controversy surrounding the raid has never ended and the only presidential invitation Tibbets ever received was from the man who ordered the bombing, Harry Truman.

“Little Boy”

The weapon which Tibbets delivered was one child of a scientific golden age. That age had predated the first world war, was fissured by Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933 and was eventually engulfed within the vast US war economy. From the 1890s, when the young Ernest Rutherford had left his native New Zealand for Cambridge University’s Cavendish laboratory, a community of physicists and chemists from France, Germany, Austria, Britain, Hungary, Denmark, Italy, the US and elsewhere had advanced to the point where atomic power, the stuff of pulp fiction, could be envisaged as reality. As the second world war broke out, Albert Einstein was urging President Roosevelt to follow the British and Germans in beginning a nuclear weapons programme.

Groves and Oppenheimer

By 1941, the British had opened up their atomic research to the US. In September 1942, Leslie Groves was appointed commanding general of the Manhattan Project. In October Robert Oppenheimer was appointed director of what became the project’s Los Alamos laboratory. In December 1942, Enrico Fermi activated the world’s first man-made nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile Number One. In September 1944, Tibbets was chosen from three candidates, in his words, “to wage atomic warfare”. Some of the Los Alamos scientists, Tibbets wrote in his memoirs, had their heads in the clouds. “Others had the same interest of the normal everyday citizen as I would classify myself.” Just how normal and everyday Tibbets was is open to question. Shy and touchy, he was only truly happy in the air, according to his Enola Gay crew mate, Jacob Beser, “But there he was magnificent.”

Paul Tibbets

Tibbets’ background was the stuff of middle America, far from Los Alamos’ radical cosmopolitanism. Born in Quincy, Illinois, he was raised there and in Iowa until he was nine, when the family moved to Florida. The son of a wholesale grocer – and first world war army officer – Tibbets had Welsh, Irish and, on his mother’s side, Dutch ancestry. The Depression passed him by. He had a car at Western military academy in Illinois and even a new De Soto Airflow at the university of Florida. Planning to be a doctor, he studied at the University of Cincinnati, and worked in a venereal disease clinic.

But then Tibbets gave up his study. Medicine killed exhausted doctors, he thought, and he mistrusted the advent of socialized medicine. Most of all, he loved flying and wanted to join the army air corps. His father, he said, thought he had “lost his marbles”. His mother told him to go right ahead. “I know,” she said, “you will be all right”. Her name was Enola Gay.

In 1938 he graduated from pilot school in Texas and by 1940 was based in Savannah. Then came Pearl Harbor and Tibbets the career officer trained up on the army air force’s (USAAF) main heavy bomber, the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress in Tampa. By July 1942, he had arrived in Polebrook, in Northamptonshire, as commander of 340th Squadron. Morale was initially poor – Polebrook was the inspiration for the bomber base in the 1949 feature film Twelve O’Clock High, with a major, modeled on Tibbets, greeting new station commander Gregory Peck.

The B17

In August 1942, Tibbets flew the first B17 on the first USAAF bomber mission, to Rouen. Also in the crew were Theodore “Dutch” van Kirk and Tom Ferebee, both of whom were to be Enola Gay crewmen. That October, he flew supreme allied commander Dwight Eisenhower to Gibraltar and General Mark Clark to Algiers. He then led the first USAAF raid in north Africa, and became bombardment chief with General Jimmy Doolittle’s 12th air force.

The B29

In Tibbets’ opinion, a clash with a quintessential military bureaucrat, Colonel Lauris Norstad – the future Nato supremo – led to Tibbets’ transfer back to the US by February 1943. But once back, Tibbets was assigned to Wichita to flight test the new B29, which had just killed Boeing’s test pilot and 10 other key technicians. If any aircraft symbolised the birth of the US as a superpower, it was the B29, the propeller-driven ancestor of the B52 and 747 jumbo jet. It had been ordered in 1939-40 as an intercontinental bomber to bomb Europe or Asia (if Britain were to lose). More than 1,600 B29s had already been ordered, but their engines, the largest ever built, tended to catch fire. Soon Tibbets was a B29 instructor.

Col. Tibbets – Commander 393 Bombardment Squadron

Then, in September 1944, came the appointment to command the 393rd heavy bombardment squadron, the A-bomb unit, initially based at Wendover Field in desolate Utah. Oppenheimer warned Tibbets that the A-bomb shock wave could destroy the B29. So the Super Fortresses were stripped to fly at 32,000 feet. Early in 1945, the 393rd was sent to Batista Field in Cuba to practice runs over islands. Soon afterwards, Tibbets unilaterally announced that the unit was ready to go – and in May 1945 what had grown into the 1,700-strong 509th Composite Group began transferring to Tinian Island in the Marianas, 1,200 miles from Japan.

In Washington, a committee selected four possible targets: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama and Kokura. The US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, later vetoed Kyoto, already disturbed by the fire-bombing of Japan, and unwilling to see a historic city destroyed. Hiroshima, with its rivers and surrounding mountains was a comparatively easy target – and apparently had no allied PoWs.

By July, the transfer of the 509th was complete. Unlike the conventional squadrons on Tinian, it flew no combat missions until late July, and became the object of derision. There was also an attempt to break it up, and the regional air commander, Curtis LeMay, wasn’t sure that Tibbets should fly the mission. He responded with a test flight to demonstrate the crew’s prowess.

At the end of the month, Little Boy arrived. It symbolized global war. Some of its uranium was from the Congo, confiscated from the Belgians in 1940 by the Germans and snatched from Soviet-occupied Germany in 1945 by an Anglo-American special unit.

The Aioi Bridge

On August 1, Tibbets put together the order for the attack, and a day later, with LeMay and Ferebee, he chose the Aioi bridge as the target in Hiroshima. On August 4, he briefed the crews. Five B29s were to take part in the raid, three as weather scouts, one to accompany the bombing plane. Tibbets told the aircrew that everything before had been small potatoes, and that what they proposed to do would shorten the war by six months.

On August 5, a row broke out between Tibbets and his enraged co-pilot Robert Lewis, who had originally assumed he would be piloting the mission and who also took exception to his commander’s abrupt christening of the B29 as Enola Gay. Tibbets’ thoughts, he confided in his autobiography, had turned to his “courageous red-haired mother, whose quiet confidence had been a source of strength to me since boyhood”.

Tibbets waving before takeoff.

The take-off of the Enola Gay and the other planes, which comprised “special bombing mission number 13”, was a media event. Tibbets and his crew were floodlit, filmed, photographed – and observed from the jungle by the remnants of the Japanese forces on the island. Tibbets smiles broadly out of the Enola Gay group shot, symbolic in the shape of western wars to come.

Until Enola Gay’s arrival over Hiroshima, the most taxing part of the flight had been the takeoff, when Tibbets had held 65 tons of B29 on the runway for two miles before pulling it into the air. He had been given cyanide pills for the crew – in case they came down over Japan – and anti-flash goggles for the A-bomb itself. “My teeth told me more emphatically than my eyes of the Hiroshima explosion,” Tibbets wrote: there was a tingling sensation, as his fillings interacted with the radioactivity.

Watches found at ground zero stopped at 8:15 am.

In the city, wrote Richard Rhodes in his definitive The Making of the Atomic Bomb, “birds ignited in mid-air. Mosquitoes and flies, squirrels, family pets crackled and were gone. The fire balls flashed an enormous photograph of the city at the instant of its immolation fixed on the mineral, vegetable and animal surfaces of the city itself.” The mushroom cloud over the stricken city was still visible from Enola Gay at 10 that morning. By 3pm, the B29 had touched down at Tinian. The crew was decorated – Tibbets with a distinguished service cross – on landing. Back home Tibbets’ local paper called him “Florida’s Buck Rogers”.

Studs Terkel

(About the mushroom cloud, in his interview with Studs Terkel General Tibbets had this to say)

Studs Terkel: Did you hear an explosion?

Paul Tibbets: Oh yeah. The shock wave was coming up at us after we turned. And the tail gunner said, “Here it comes.” About the time he said that, we got this kick in the ass. I had accelerometers installed in all airplanes to record the magnitude of the bomb. It hit us with two and a half G. Next day, when we got figures from the scientists on what they had learned from all the things, they said, “When that bomb exploded, your airplane was 10 and a half miles away from it.”

The Hiroshima A-bomb blast as photographed by U.S. military.

Studs Terkel: Did you see that mushroom cloud?

Paul Tibbets: You see all kinds of mushroom clouds, but they were made with different kinds of bombs. The Hiroshima bomb did not make a mushroom. It was what I call a stringer. It just came up. It was black as hell and it had light and colors and white in it and grey color in it and the top was like a folded-up Christmas tree.

Tibbets flight testing the B47 Strato-Jet…the first jet engine bomber.

That September, together with Ferebee and Van Kirk, he went to Hiroshima. Soon afterwards, he went to the air war college in Alabama to write about the use of A-bombs. He was infuriated when denied a key role in the 1946 Bikini Atoll A-bomb tests, partly blaming machinations by Norstad, and went on to test the B47 atom bomber.

In 1952, Robert Taylor played Tibbets, with Eleanor Parker as his wife Lucy in Above and Beyond, billed as the “love story behind the billion dollar secret”. But two years later, the marriage ended in divorce and in 1956, while posted to Nato in Paris, he married Andrea Quattrehomme.

Tibbets never reached the top echelon in the cold-war US air force; he retired with the rank of brigadier-general. Soon after serving with the US supply mission in India (1964-66) – where the Indian Communist party labelled him the “world’s greatest killer” – he quit and joined an executive jet company in Ohio.

Brigadier General Paul Tibbets

Once total war and its assumed imperative were gone, democratic western societies shrank from reconciling their proclaimed values with the obliteration of cities and those who lived in them. Yet Tibbets, the man who waged atomic warfare, felt that the dropping of the two A-bombs saved lives. Without them, a long and bloody invasion of Japan would have followed. He never, he said, lost a night’s sleep over the raid.

He said in 2005 that he wanted his ashes scattered over the English channel, where he loved to fly during the war.

Tibbets is survived by his second wife and three sons. One of his grandchildren, Paul W Tibbets IV, became the mission controller of a B2 Stealth bomber.

· Paul Warfields Tibbets, pilot, born February 23 1915; died November 1 2007

“The surviving members of the Enola Gay crew: Paul W. Tibbets (pilot), Theodore J. “Dutch” Van Kirk (navigator) and Morris R. Jeppson (weapon test officer) have repeatedly and humbly proclaimed that, “The use of the atomic weapon was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets”. They have steadfastly taken that stance for the past six decades.

Gen. Paul Tibbets was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1996.

“In the past sixty years since Hiroshima I have received many letters from people all over the world. The vast majority have expressed gratitude that the 509th Composite group consisting of 1700 men, 15 B-29s and 6 C-54s were able to deliver the bombs that ended the war. Over the years, 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. In addition to Americans veterans, I have been thanked as well by Japanese veterans and civilians who would have been expected to carry out a suicidal defense of their homelands. Combined with the efforts of all Americans and our allies we were able to stop the killing,” comments Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets. It is a sentiment upon which the surviving crewmen are unanimous.

In this year, 2005, we will observe the anniversary of the epic flight of the Enola Gay close to our homes and our friends. To our fellow veterans and the American nation we all echo one sentiment, “I pray that reason will prevail among leaders before we ever again need to call upon our nuclear might. There are no regrets. We were proud to have served like so many men and women stationed around the world today. To them, to you, we salute you and goodbye.”

http://www.avweb.com/news/profiles/PaulTibbets_StudsTerkel_EnolaGayInterview_2002_196499-1.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/nov/02/guardianobituaries.military

About WeeWeed

Sarcastic cat herder extraordinaire. And an angel.
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88 Responses to Saluting Our Military: In Memoriam…

  1. AnyaArisohn says:

    Thank you for writing this 🙂

    Liked by 20 people

  2. Earl Smith says:

    One of things that has always bothered me is the tendency of the media to crow about the US only having TWO bombs. There was a third bomb casing already on the island and the physics package was getting ready to be airlifted to the island.

    Our manufacturing capability was a two bombs a month with increase to three a month in September. Yes, after the three bombs, we were going to hold off on dropping on cities. The Air Corp had already shifted from bombing the cities in June because there was not enough worth targeting. They had shifted to bombing the rail lines and bridges in an effort to starve Japan out (very successful – in 1946 the ration for a worker was set at 1000 calories a day – starvation values because even with all the shipping we could not provide enough food.)

    The reason for the halt in a bombs was simple; we were going to use TWELVE on the beaches for the November invasion. That was projected to be a bloodbath. The 4 divisions that were to land in the initial invasion were considered gone by Day 4. And this was assuming the order of battle in January 1945, long before the Japanese moved troops around for the defense.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. LP says:

    It was anathema. However, an anathema that ended another anathema. A guidon to remember, to honour the dead and to renew our commitment that this does not happen again.

    Do I need to mention that our president has essentially supported another hostile country to have this destructive power?

    I am disgusted and, in cold anger.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Shevtsova251 says:

      Many more american and japanese lives were saved because of the atomic bomb.
      Japanese were fanatics at that time, ready to die to last one, even women and children, by being suicide bombs, or Killing themselves. American POW and other nationalities did not have many days to live, and many were horribly tortured in camps. President Truman had the atomic bomb, he used it and it stopped WWII on that second front. World War II lasted only 5 years. Without using the bomb, it could have last many more years. Japan was rapidly rebuilt, and most japanese are pro-American, and understand why it was done. Only anti-americans will use this event as another reason to hate America.

      Liked by 8 people

      • Nordic Breed says:

        The vast majority of the Japanese population at that time were severely brainwashed. The pro-peace faction among the Japanese were wiped out in an attempted coup in 1936, which left the militarists in total control. They were fanatics with the firm belief that they were to rule the entire world. The emperor was a “god”, but he was also in sympathy with them. Watch “Japan’s Longest Day” to get an idea of why we had to use those bombs.

        Liked by 4 people

    • Coldeadhands says:

      Well said!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. mathman2 says:

    Thanks to Groves, Oppenheimer, Tibbets, and all the rest.
    My dad was 33 in 1945. 4F at the beginning, he was 1A when the bomb went off.
    He would have come home in one of the 800,000 body bags on order.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Shevtsova251 says:

      Japanese were just like palestinians, following a death cult.

      Liked by 7 people

      • Japanese were utter savages…ask all of Asia…it was the reason they were stripped of their military capacity after the war. And why they don’t need to appropriate $ for their own defense today. Ironic that their reliance on nuclear power today threatens their island nation.

        Liked by 8 people

    • georgiafl says:

      Japan were cruel warriors. They had invaded China and created much suffering.

      After Pearl Harbor, my Dad, already in the army, fought in the battle of Saipan in WWII and later flew in Korea as an army air pilot.

      Our family was in Korea when North Korea invaded. My sister and I were traumatized by the bombing of the air base where we were stationed. We were evacuated in the dark of the night onto a guano ship over to Japan and flown back to San Francisco.

      Liked by 7 people

      • georgiafl says:

        My father was also probably saved by the atomic bomb. Neither of my parents ever said they felt it was a wrong decision. They both were mad as heck at Truman for firing MacArthur, however!!! MacArthur was a very special general… and made a good job of the Japanese Occupation/Recovery.

        I love Dwight Eisenhower as well…the more I read about him. He was prophetic when he warned about the military industrial complex and other crimes of public purse predators.

        Liked by 12 people

    • dachuckster says:

      My dad has just joined the army as an artillery officer and had only spent 8 or 9 months in combat at the end of the European part of WWII, He was kept the in the army as part of the post war occupation of Germany.

      If the bombs had not been dropped on Japan I am quite sure than I would ever have been born. So IMO I and my entire family owe our very existence to Paul Tibbets and the rest of the war effort.

      A lot of propaganda and disinformation has been out out since the end of WWII about the use of the atomic bomb. Most of it is worthless. I watched an interview of Paul Tibbets on TV near the end of his life about it.

      Here is a link if anyone wants to watch.

      The part Iike is when the interviewer asks him if it has ever bothered hom to have dropped the bomb:

      Ryan: Have you ever had any regrets or any psychological problems as a result of this, or suffered any guilt feelings? Do you feel that what you did was right? You got a lot of flak over that, didn’t you?

      Tibbets: Yes, after the fact there was quite a bit. This was basically a result of Russian propaganda, who took the position that nobody but a crazy man would do that for any country. With that situation, I am supposed to have lost sleep over what I did, have a certain amount of morose, and so forth. I can assure you, I have never lost a night’s sleep on the deal.

      Liked by 7 people

    • IntoTheFray says:

      My dad was an assault boat coxswain (driver) during WWII and was scheduled to go in on the first wave of the initial landing of the invasion of Japan. Needless to say, if the invasion had taken place, I doubt that I or my brother and sister would be here today. Those who put down America for the atomic attack on Japan are clueless idiots, running on emotion and not logic.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. Shevtsova251 says:

    Wow! I enjoyed reading this tremendously. I always enjoyed reading on wars where so many men have demonstrated that we are capable of extraordinary courage.

    It means something to me that I was born on February 24th, so an astral twin to Mr. Paul W. Tibbets (pilot) born on February 23rd. On that date, our Sun is aligned with one of the four persian royal stars, Fomalhaut, a solitary planet visible by the human eye in the Pisces constellation. There’s a call to greatness in the individual when one’s Sun is on an important fixed star, if circumstances permit so.

    Mr. Trump is born on 14 June, with his Sun in the middle of two splendid stars, Bellatrix and Betelgeuse on both shoulders of Orion also called the Hunterm giving kingly attributes, if circumstances permit so and with good planet placement at birth in that year. I can tell you that Mr. Trump is born with very luck planet placements, but this you will not doubt.

    It can make on stealthy like a hunter.
    http://www.space.com/16659-constellation-orion.html

    Liked by 5 people

  6. JAS says:

    Excellent piece. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 6 people

  7. thetrain2016 says:

    Man that made hard decisions and carried on is a dying creature. Time to reintroduce…

    Liked by 8 people

  8. Gov Jay says:

    Terrific article Sundance… especially for every World War II history buff… you deserve a Pulitzer…

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Clc says:

    http://www.yellowairplane.com/34th/A1_Fighter_Squadron_index.htm wonderful story. did not know that the Enola gay stopped at IeShima enroute (as stated in the video). my dad was a p47 pilot stationed on IeShima. there is a lot in this link. I hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. JenMG says:

    My father was a WWII Marine stationed in the South China Sea during the summer/fall of 1945 and I’m positive the decision to bomb Japan saved his life. For those who second guess Truman’s decision I always put it into context that thousands, maybe millions of American lives were saved and generations like mine and my children were preserved. Thank you for this great article to start my day.

    Liked by 10 people

    • Coldeadhands says:

      Both American and Japanese lives were saved. The loses on both sides to a land invasion would have been astronomical.

      Liked by 2 people

    • dachuckster says:

      And we cannot forget that the Soviet Union was getting ready to enter the war in the Pacific. Not to help the allies, more an excuse for a land grab.

      If we had let the war play out another 6 – 12 months, we would have faced a totally communist Korea as well as a postwar Japan divided like Germany.

      IMO the lives saved by dropping the bomb outweigh those lost by at least 100 to 1.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. Jedi9 says:

    This was awesome! Thank you so much for writing this, I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Clc says:

    https://vimeo.com/5645171 VJ Day, Honolulu. August 14, 1945

    Liked by 3 people

    • georgiafl says:

      Lovely!

      (wipes tears)

      Liked by 3 people

      • My dad might have been there in Honolulu – recovering from wounds received in Iwo Jima. He was a Marine. I remember my mother and her twin sister jumping and yelling and screaming on V-J Day. Oh, yeah, they were happy on V-E day – I had an uncle over in Europe. Not long after V-J Day, my dad came home to us in Pittsburgh. I’ll never forget the sight of him coming upstairs to us. I was a little too young to remember seeing him off from Camp Pendleton two years earlier.
        So, yes, georgiafl – tears! Of joy and memories.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. bob e says:

    awesome post WeeWeed .. thank you so much. not many people
    like the above rugged americans anymore.

    Liked by 7 people

  14. Roy Kadel says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting the navigator, Ted Van Kirk, several times. He passed away about 3 years ago, of old age. He was the last surviving member of the Enola Gay Crew. This article mirrors much of what Ted told me. Ted gave me a lithographed copy of his navigators log for that flight to Hiroshima, saying he wished he had done a better job on the log. You see he was sharpening his pencil on the log and there are the marks from sharpening on the log. This was a group of truly great Americans.

    Japan had exploded their own atomic device at their atomic lab located in the Korean Peninsula 9 days before the Hiroshima event. Japan had 12 centrifuges working at the lab and they were working the heavy water system.

    Things sure could have gone the other way.

    Liked by 14 people

  15. skipper1961 says:

    WeeWeed,
    Thank you, so very much. This “post”(?) was/is so RIVETING I lost track of time, reading it (including the link to the Studs Terkel interview, WOW). What heroes Brigadier-General Tibbets and his crew were. Imagine, a good portion of your adult life, spent accepting the gratitude of our military, and THEIRS! I imagine his grandson made him very proud, and vice-versa.
    Thanks again,
    God Bless,
    Strength’N’Honor,
    skipper1961

    Liked by 6 people

  16. Coldeadhands says:

    Thank you WeWeed, for the reflections on a people and a country that knew they had something worth preserving with so much personal sacrifice.

    Liked by 6 people

  17. Jon Brown says:

    U.S.A., U.S.A. !

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Racewellwon says:

    Today is another Anniversary – its a Year since Trumps first Debate !
    God Bless these Brave Men and Woman who sacrifice their lives for our Freedom !

    Liked by 2 people

  19. nyetneetot says:

    Thank you for posting

    Liked by 4 people

  20. itswoot says:

    This morning at around 8:00 while in my backyard, three single engine fighter planes from the WWII era flew directly overhead, and fairly low, in tight formation. So tight that two of them were almost touching wingtips while they did a turn, and I thought they would collide. Hearing the powerful noise of their engines, and seeing them, was a moving experience.

    Less than an hour later they returned overhead. But this time just two of them were flying together, and the third was much further back. The ‘missing man’ formation. I’m wondering now if this was done in honor of this date in WWII history, and the part the crew of the Enola Gay played.

    This happened in NW lower Michigan.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Very good piece!! Thank you very much for sharing this. Wish our children and grandchildren were taught history like this once again!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. FofBW says:

    I honor and salute you General Tibbets. It is because of Patriots like you that we are able to agree or disagree and still have a say on the direction of our country. Today is a good day for gratitude indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

  23. I stood in line for hours with a triple hernia to get Gen. Tibbets’ autograph. They told us ‘Don’t ask him to sign it to you; He will only sign his name”. I planned on cooperating. But as soon as I got to him, I lost control and asked him to sign it to me. Star-struck, I suppose. Anyway, the signed 8×10 glossy is a prized possession. This was at the Aeronautics Museum formerly at the Richmond, Va. airport.

    Liked by 5 people

  24. kobeclan says:

    My father was on a marine troop ship heading to the Japanese islands when the bombs were dropped.

    He dropped out of high school at 17 to enlist.
    The assault of the Japanese homeland would have been his fourth beach landing.

    Add me to the millions of Americans who never would have been born if Truman had made the
    wrong decision.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. mamadogsite says:

    After reading this, reflect on today’s young people….ya know…snowflake chalk drawing safe zone generations….they know nothing…they are nothing compaired to our Fathers and Mothers who had no options for survival…

    …we are now in a fight or flee war with ISIS within our borders. We older and wiser folks will fight, of course. But what of the younger generations? If it isn’t on social media or a game, will they even notice or lay down their iphones and fight?

    We really need to get some tough role models in Washington…some parents to teach and practice tough love. We need plenty more McArthurs, Eisenhowers, Pattons and Tibbets too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • dachuckster says:

      I was discussing Trump and his plans to control immigration with a coworker who is a Pakistani. My coworker is a very progressive moderate Muslim. One of the nicest, sweetest and kindest men I know. .And a very devout Muslim. I have known him for over 15 years.

      He was saying he didn’t know if he could vote for Trump because he thought Trump too soft on extremist Muslim terrorists! I asked him what he thought we should do. His response was simple … Just kill them. Kill all of them (the extremists). I asked what we should do with those Muslims who are getting radicalized here and are joining ISIS etc. His response was the same, “Kill them”. He went on to tell me that when he was a young boy in Pakistan, his family was constantly in fear of the extremists. You did not look at them on the street or even talk to any of them out of fear that you might anger or displease them in some way. If you did, a gang would show up at your house and kill the parents in front of the children and then take the children for their on purposes. The boys as servants or to be educated in a Madrasa, the girls as servants or as wives. He told me that he loved America but that Muslims here are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation. He thought he would be free of the extremists by coming here and he was for a time, now he lives in fear again.

      I just wanted to put this out so we all understand what we are up against. This upcoming election is our fight for our very existence

      Liked by 3 people

  26. navysquid says:

    I am borrowing the below interview from Dachuckster that he posted:
    Ryan: Have you ever had any regrets or any psychological problems as a result of this, or suffered any guilt feelings? Do you feel that what you did was right? You got a lot of flak over that, didn’t you?

    Tibbets: Yes, after the fact there was quite a bit. This was basically a result of Russian propaganda, who took the position that nobody but a crazy man would do that for any country. With that situation, I am supposed to have lost sleep over what I did, have a certain amount of morose, and so forth. I can assure you, I have never lost a night’s sleep on the deal.

    Think of this last line in the sentence that “he never lost a night’s sleep on the deal”. That is the rugged Americans that we miss and like mamadogsite says above, we have too many pansy snowflakes in this country. THIS. is why we love Trump because he remembers people like Truman, Ike, and Reagan’s because these were MEN. Nowadays the media would jump all over the last sentence above saying, Trump doesn’t care about the killing of thousands of people…warmongerer!

    Trump MAGA 2016/17

    Liked by 5 people

  27. andi lee says:

    All my heros wear combat boots!

    Excellent posting, Weeweed, and the comments posted are intriguing. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Concerned Virginian says:

    My father, a WWII vet of the European Front, died 10 years ago. From his hospital bed, he asked for three things: a crucifix; his Bronze Star; and a photograph of his wife (my mother). We children made sure he got these things; we hung the crucifix on the wall so he could hold the photo. The Bronze Star was pinned to his hospital gown.
    I will never forget the peaceful look on his face and the tiny smile on his lips when he passed.
    “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”
    Think of it: the men and women who serve to protect our freedom stretches all the way from Lexington and Concord (and maybe past that, too), all the way to where our military serve at this hour today. They, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights they swear to uphold, are the reasons why we can post the TCH.
    Our veterans deserve everything that can be done for them in respect and grateful thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Very well written and fascinating.

    I had the honor of meeting General Tibbets several times at air shows in the 1980s and early 1990s. Anyone interested in this topic would probably enjoy reading, “Thanks God For The Atom Bomb,” by Paul Fussell.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. mcclainra says:

    My dad was also stationed on Tinian, although not in Tibbetts’ group. He was 44th Bomb Squadron, 49th Bomb Group, 58th Bomb Wing, 20th AF under LeMay. His last mission was Aug. 14, the day before Japan’s surrender, on the naval arsenal at Hikari. The 40th crews, including my dad, heard the news of the first blast after returning from the incendiary raid above, on Imbari.

    I heard him say, many times (and he did NOT ‘like’ to talk about the war in the Pacific after he got over there), that Hiroshima and Nagasake saved untold thousands, maybe millions, of lives, both sides. My brother is a retired USAF 2 star, and recently did a book, private, about Daddy, including a lot about his flying, then the USAF, and later. Reading how Tibbetts’ personality changed when he was in the cockpit reminded me of Dad in the cockpit, where he was ALL business, ALL the time (we always had a single engine plane until he was much older).

    Thanks for this WeeWeed, and am sharing and sending on.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. In AZ says:

    Fantastic article. Thank You.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. zephyrbreeze says:

    In the car yesterday, my vet son mentioned that he didn’t know his blood type until he was in the military. We discussed his war injuries, and we looked at the shrapnel scars on his hand – a large piece went right through his glove on the top of his hand, and out through his palm. At the time, he wrapped gauze over shrapnel and his glove, and continued the fight.

    Another time, they were knocked to the ground with an RPG, and when he stood up he didn’t realize that his leg was coated in blood, until he was told.

    It’s so easy for us to underestimate what our soldiers go though and the price paid by them and their families.

    The A-bombs prevented so much suffering and turned Japan into a democracy. it’s miraculous actually what the US – mostly men (Hat tip: Milo) accomplished. It’s miraculous that we had the idea to remake Japan, instead of enslaving her, or destroying her.

    America is wonderful.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. History Teaches says:

    This is a solid opinion piece that brings a new perspective to this thread and more.

    http://www.galganov.com/current-editorial/#.V6YoANRfOK0

    Liked by 1 person

    • zephyrbreeze says:

      This part was most interesting to me:

      “We’ve walked amongst the Headstones (at Arlington National Cemetery) several times, remarking at how uncluttered and uniform the Graves were, and how serene the entire cemetery was, which in its beautiful silence said all that had to be said about the greatness of United States of America.

      “And as we walked upon the HALLOWED Ground, where America’s HEROES laid, we remarked on the CROSSES on the many Thousands of Headstones, and the STARS OF DAVID as well, which numbered in proportion to the ratio of Jewish Americans to Christian Americans.

      “BUT AS FAR AS WE COULD SEE . . . we saw no Star & Crescent markings on any Graves.”

      Liked by 2 people

  34. Kerry Gimbel says:

    My father served in 607th Graves Registration unit for First Army in WW2. He knew the cost of war. His unit recovered and buried 72,000 men by VE Day. He and the rest of First Army were waiting to invade near Tokyo after they shipped home to Fort Jackson. He and his fellow soldiers had NO problem with the bomb being dropped. They knew how grim the landings would be on the Japanse mainland.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Red says:

    Today would have been my Daddy’s 95th birthday. He’s been gone almost 9 years now. He served in the European Theater. He always said the day we dropped the bomb was the best birthday he ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Kerry Gimbel says:

    To fully appreciate why the bombs were dropped on Japan, you truly need to read and be knowledgable about the Pacific war. To understand just how fanatical and vicious the a Imperial Japanese were. From ships being attacked by suicide planes, to the suicide bonsai charges, the Bataan death march. I’ve hardly scratched the surface. So before anybody criticizes the dropping of the bombs, take the time to pick up some books and read

    Liked by 2 people

  37. intense48 says:

    In 2005 I spent Memorial Day weekend in Palm Springs, CA . At the Museum of Flight we saw the B-29(?) do a flyover. The museum expressed concerned that the doors might not open to drop red carnations.

    I remember seeing the little geckos bobbing up and down. I’m not sure why the 60th Anniversary was so important unless that was the last year the aviators were still alive. In one of the posted videos by one of the commenters, I think Studs Terkel made them look like criminals with the beginning profile and then the full-face “confession-like” narrative in the old black and white video (circa 1945 ?) “Interview with Crew of the Enola Gay”.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Margaret-Ann says:

    Fantastic article, WeeWeed! 🙂
    Enjoyed it ALL (as did my husband). Thanks!
    This is a generation of men and women like no other. Love seeing the vintage videos!

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Didah says:

    Greetings,
    I am a long time reader and first time poster. This was an excellent article about Hiroshima. I live in Japan and I thought you may be interested to know that Obamas visit here last May and his not-so-veiled apology for the dropping of the bomb at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park has turned the Imperial Japanese military from aggressors into victims. Kind of like the way he distorts issues in the States.It was sickening to watch him speak there and his pandering to the survivors. Clearly, this leg of his global apologize for America tour is just to try and shore up his weak to non existent legacy at home. As you know, the truth is, the Japanese were brutal in World War II. During Obamas visit, there was no mention of the inhumane treatment that our allied prisoners of war received at the hands of the Japanese. Just read the books or see the movies “Unbroken” about the plight of Louis Zamperini at the hands of the Japanese as a POW or “The Railway Man” about the horrific treatment of British and Commonwealth POWs endured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. In all the hand wringing about the dropping of the atomic bombs — Japanese culpability is lost in todays politically correct revisionist translation of history. Below is a link to the Japanese state broadcaster NHKs English news feed. There is feature on the 71st anniversary of Hiroshima that aired Friday here on Newsroom Tokyo. If you have the time, take a look at how the world now looks at that event through the eyes of the Japanese. It is absolutely sickening. By the way, as you walk into the museum at the Hiroshima peace park, on a continuous loop, is a video of the Enola Gay before it taxis for takeoff showing Colonel Tibbets smiling and waving from the cockpit (the picture above is from that clip). Under the monitor is a caption that reads something to the effect that “the American pilot smiles before taking off to drop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.” One last thing about Obama`s visit to Hiroshima — of course, he had to make it about himself. The Japanese and world media reported that at the end of his private tour of the museum (before hugging a survivor) he expertly and deftly constructed three oragami paper cranes which he left as a gift to the museum. Just another small example of the fiction that is this presidency. I think he took a page from Clinton when he found those rocks on the beach at Normandy to make a cross. It is sickening to witness the depths that these phony disingenuous old pols will sink to.

    Keep up the good work.
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/newsroomtokyo/

    Liked by 1 person

  40. TeddyOn20th says:

    My grandfather was born on September 1, 1927. Had the war gone on another half month, he would have been drafted. Had that happened, I probably would not be here today.

    I don’t even want to think about what an extended war would have looked like. We saw how little the Japanese government valued human life in the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945. Now imagine a whole country like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Clc says:

    http://www.yellowairplane.com/Betty_Bombers/JimWalkerWWII/JimWalker1JapaneseBettyBettyBomber.htm comment and photo from a jim walker who was on IeShima waiting for the invasion of japan when the japs flew in on their way to surrender.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Steve in Greensboro says:

    Thanks, WW, for the moving remembrance of an American hero. But I have a minor quibble about the following sentence.

    “…The causal link between Tibbets’ mission and Hirohito’s announcement remained a hotly debated issue…”

    The causal link is “hotly debated” only in the anti-American fever-swamps of academia. In the real world, it is obvious that the only reason the Japanese surrendered was the bombs dropped, after ample warning to the citizens of those sad cities, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Without those bombs, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, sailors and Marines would have died, not to mention the millions of Japanese who would have died in the final invasion.

    For a good overview of the correct thinking on this topic, have a look at “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” by Paul Fussell published (shockingly) in the New Republic in 1981. (How leftists have changed in the last half century.)

    My father worked on plutonium production at Hanford. His brother flew C-47s in Burma. My mother’s brothers served in the Navy. My Dad’s good work no doubt saved my Uncles’ lives.

    My Mom and Dad and Uncle and Aunt were up Pikes Peak when my Uncle Dee was home on leave. When they came back down the mountain, the news of the Hiroshima bomb was everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Anna Gehring says:

    Just reading this now, but LOVE it!!! I can’t wait to be in the USAF.. beautifully written 🙂

    Like

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