Friday, November 2, 2007

Pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb dies

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Thursday. He was 92 and insisted for six decades after the war that he had no regrets about the mission and slept just fine at night.

Tibbets' historic mission in the plane named for his mother marked the beginning of the end of World War II and eliminated the need for what military planners feared would have been an extraordinarily bloody invasion of Japan. It was the first use of a nuclear weapon in wartime.
The plane and its crew of 14 dropped the five-ton "Little Boy" bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The blast killed 70,000 to 100,000 people and injured countless others. See the full story here.

In the undated handout picture above, the ground crew of the Enola Gay stands with Tibbets, center, in the Marianas Islands, most likely on Tinian.

The national news article does not mention that the Enola Gay, as well as the Bockscar, the B-29 that carried and dropped the atomic bomb codenamed "Fatman" on Nagasaki just three days later, both took off on those missions from Tinian, our neighboring island here in the Marianas chain. After the completion of the invasion of the Marianas in the summer of 1944, the island of Tinian was quickly transformed into a series of airstrips to allow B-29's to begin daily bombing missions over Japan. History states that the small island of Tinian was the world's busiest airfield at that time.

The Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the battles of Saipan and Tinian was held on Saipan and Tinian from June 12th through June 17th, 2004. Many veterans of the campaign including General Tibbits, their families and friends, historians and others interested in the War in the Pacific returned for the event.
For more on the Battle of Saipan, click here.

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