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Pilot who dropped bomb on Hiroshima died.

Mucho

Guest
Oct 20, 2001
8,232
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Paul Tibbets, 92: Dropped bomb on Hiroshima

'I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did'Nov 01, 2007 11:58 AM
Julie Carr Smyth

COLUMBUS, Ohio ? Paul Tibbets, the pilot and commander of the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, during the Second World War, died today. He was 92.
Tibbets died at his Columbus home, said Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend. Tibbets suffered from a variety of health problems and had been in decline for two months.

Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide his detractors with a place to protest, Newhouse said. In 2005 newspaper interview, Tibbets said he wanted his ashes scattered over the English Channel, where he loved to fly during the war.

Tibbets' historic mission in the plane Enola Gay, named for his mother, marked the beginning of the end of the war in the Pacific. It was the first use of a nuclear weapon in wartime. The plane and its crew of 14 dropped the bomb, dubbed "Little Boy," on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The blast killed 70,000 to 100,000 people and injured countless others.

Three days later, the United States dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Tibbets did not fly in that mission. The Japanese surrendered a few days later, ending the war. "I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing," Tibbets told the Columbus Dispatch for a story on Aug. 6, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the bomb.

"We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background," he said. "We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible." Tibbets, then a 30-year-old colonel, never expressed regret over his role. It was, he said, his patriotic duty.

"I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.
"You've got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal."

"I sleep clearly every night," he said.
Tibbets was born Feb. 23, 1915, in Quincy, Ill., and spent most of his boyhood in Miami. He was a student at the University of Cincinnati's medical school when he decided to withdraw in 1937 to enlist in the U.S. army air corps.

After the war, Tibbets was dogged by rumours claiming he was in prison or had committed suicide. "They said I was crazy, said I was a drunkard, in and out of institutions," he said in a 2005 interview. "At the time, I was running the National Crisis Center at the Pentagon."

Tibbets retired from the air force as a brigadier-general in 1966. He later moved to Columbus, where he ran an air taxi service until he retired in 1985. But his role in the bombing brought him fame ? and infamy ? throughout his life.

In 1976, he was criticized for re-enacting the bombing during an appearance at a Harlingen, Texas, air show. As he flew a B-29 Superfortress over the show, a bomb set off on the runway below created a mushroom cloud. He said the display "was not intended to insult anybody," but the Japanese were outraged. The U.S. government later issued a formal apology.

Tibbets again defended the bombing in 1995, when an outcry erupted over a planned 50th anniversary exhibit of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution. The museum had planned to mount an exhibit that would have examined the context of the bombing, including the discussion within the Truman administration of whether to use the bomb, the rejection of a demonstration bombing and the selection of the target.

Veterans groups objected that it paid too much attention to Japan's suffering and too little to Japan's brutality during and before the Second World War, and that it underestimated the number of Americans who would have perished in an invasion.

They said the bombing of Japan was an unmitigated blessing for the United States and its fighting men and the exhibit should say so. Tibbets denounced it as "a damn big insult."
The museum changed its plan, and agreed to display the fuselage of the Enola Gay without commentary, context or analysis. Text
 

RagingBITCH

Lifer
Sep 27, 2003
17,619
2
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30 year old colonel? Wow.

I guess we can make all the comments we want, but none of us will ever know what it was like to be in his shoes. You take 80K lives for your country...that's a hell of a moral weight to have on your shoulders until you die.
 

foghorn67

Lifer
Jan 3, 2006
11,883
49
91
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
Tokyo fire raids killed more.
 

CPA

Elite Member
Nov 19, 2001
30,322
4
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Originally posted by: RagingBITCH
30 year old colonel? Wow.

I guess we can make all the comments we want, but none of us will ever know what it was like to be in his shoes. You take 80K lives for your country...that's a hell of a moral weight to have on your shoulders until you die.
But, from the sounds of it, it looked like we chose the right guy.
 

Linflas

Lifer
Jan 30, 2001
15,388
75
91
Originally posted by: CPA
Originally posted by: RagingBITCH
30 year old colonel? Wow.

I guess we can make all the comments we want, but none of us will ever know what it was like to be in his shoes. You take 80K lives for your country...that's a hell of a moral weight to have on your shoulders until you die.
But, from the sounds of it, it looked like we chose the right guy.
Fortunately for us the country was full of the "right guys" at that time.

RIP
 

rivan

Diamond Member
Jul 8, 2003
9,677
3
76
Originally posted by: foghorn67
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
Tokyo fire raids killed more.
Agreed. Based on the options at the time, the move forced a fast surrender, probably saving more lives than it cost. Almost certainly Japan's recovery was significantly faster as a result. In a protracted invasion, much more infrastructure would have been destroyed - with a living cost of it's own.

None of that is to imply the speed and scale of death and destruction wasn't horrific - just that each option for ending the war had it's own distasteful aspects.

RIP
 

Phokus

Lifer
Nov 20, 1999
22,995
774
126
It's funny, but I watched the documentary "Fog of War" with Robert McNamara and he was instrumental in drawing up the bombing plans and he seems to have a lot of regret over the dis proportionality (vs. the objective) of the deaths that he caused via the firebombings of so many cities which killed more than 90% + of the civilians in those cities in some cases.
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,799
356
126
Originally posted by: foghorn67
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
Tokyo fire raids killed more.
not to mention that all the bombing runs over German towns killed WAY more than the combined death toll from the A-bombs AND tokyo fire raids combined. And that would have just been the casualties from US bombing runs. Britain committed their own bombing runs that killed quite a few more too, although not sure of the estimated total death tolls.


it was an honor having that man as a citizen, and to still have the weight on his shoulders till this day shows he was an honorable man who still had a conscious. Probably one of those things you just couldn't block out of your memory, no matter how hard you tried.
 

MrWizzard

Platinum Member
Mar 24, 2002
2,493
0
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Originally posted by: Phokus
It's funny, but I watched the documentary "Fog of War" with Robert McNamara and he was instrumental in drawing up the bombing plans and he seems to have a lot of regret over the dis proportionality (vs. the objective) of the deaths that he caused via the firebombings of so many cities which killed more than 90% + of the civilians in those cities in some cases.
I find how skewed a view, "Fog of War" has disturbing. I would not use that movie as a fact source.

Edit: That being said I think most people would regret killing mass amounts of people, even if it saved more people than it killed, war is a terrible thing. But I am pretty sure as long as there is mankind there will be war.
 

Siddhartha

Lifer
Oct 17, 1999
12,501
1
81
If I killed 80,000 people for any reason it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Deep down I would not be able to completely justify the deaths or absolve myself of guilt
 

DLeRium

Lifer
Feb 19, 2001
20,158
20
81
You know I wonder if they had a multi-button trigger to drop the bomb. It's kinda like in executions there's multiple people pressing a button at the same time so they will never know who flipped the switch to electrocute someone?

Killing 1 person in an execution is a lot different than dropping a WMD. It would've been interesting if they made made everyone press a button at the same time on that B-29. I think it would've made each person feel a little less guilty.
 

Demon-Xanth

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
20,551
2
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One thing to take note, is that if we hadn't dropped those two, and seen the consequences, we surely would've dropped many more over Korea. A general had planned to drop 13 nuclear bombs, and was promptly dismissed.

It's been 62 years since a nuclear bomb has been used in war. It was 46 years ago Tuesday that the largest was tested. (Tzar Bomba)

Why is this significant?

It shows that there's been a rather major change in direction of how weapons are designed. They're no longer designed as large hammers, but surgical instruments. Rather than taking out cities, they take out radar stations. Rather than dropping 100,000 bombs, 100 are dropped. For the first time in history, there has been major progress in keeping civilian casualties to a minimum. Those two bombs represent a turning point, the time when as a whole, we saw something that even ourselves didn't want to use on an enemy.

Sherman's "March to the Sea" which basically was a swath of destruction 8 miles wide and 300 miles long never needs to be repeated.

While the loss of the people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never be erased, they have never been forgotten, and even today, contribute in helping the world look for peace.
 

Miramonti

Lifer
Aug 26, 2000
28,649
98
91
Much more shameful than one man dropping an atom bomb on 80,000 people is the impact our country has had over the years, directly and indirectly, in aiding nuclear proliferation in different parts of the world.
 

JulesMaximus

No Lifer
Jul 3, 2003
74,182
635
126
Originally posted by: Phokus
It's funny, but I watched the documentary "Fog of War" with Robert McNamara and he was instrumental in drawing up the bombing plans and he seems to have a lot of regret over the dis proportionality (vs. the objective) of the deaths that he caused via the firebombings of so many cities which killed more than 90% + of the civilians in those cities in some cases.
I saw that documentary as well. I thought it was fascinating.

I can't really say that I fault the pilots/crew who flew those missions to drop A-bomb on Japan. We had no ability to surgically strike an enemy in those days and the cities we targeted for the A bomb were strategic targets.

I also watched a very depressing documentary on some of the survivors of Hiroshima on HBO a few months ago. :(

I think there is merit in saying that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did influence our willingness to use them again in future campaigns so perhaps that ultimately saved lives...I like to think that anyway.
 

JS80

Lifer
Oct 24, 2005
26,260
4
81
Originally posted by: jjsole
Much more shameful than one man dropping an atom bomb on 80,000 people is the impact our country has had over the years, directly and indirectly, in aiding nuclear proliferation in different parts of the world.
wow are you srsly?
 

StageLeft

No Lifer
Sep 29, 2000
70,150
2
0
Originally posted by: foghorn67
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
Tokyo fire raids killed more.
Yeah. It's just too bad that isn't true, but it's a nice easy way for the US to keep its morality.

Dwight Eisenhower, president of the United States and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II:

During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'.
 

adairusmc

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2006
7,063
66
91
Originally posted by: Skoorb
Originally posted by: foghorn67
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
Tokyo fire raids killed more.
Yeah. It's just too bad that isn't true, but it's a nice easy way for the US to keep its morality.

Dwight Eisenhower, president of the United States and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II:

During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'.
And that is why Harry Truman > Dwight Eisenhower.
 

aplefka

Lifer
Feb 29, 2004
12,016
2
0
I can't imagine what his life was like after that day. I just hope people respected him for the fact that he was the one the government called upon and was merely doing his duty. It truly is a tragedy that so many people died, but that comes with the territory that is war. It's too bad that the war to end all wars didn't.
 
Jun 4, 2005
19,733
1
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He had the stones to go through with his mission. I doubt this was a personal choice he made, whether or not he wanted to do it or not.

He did his job and that's all.

Hero.
 

Rogodin2

Banned
Jul 2, 2003
3,224
0
0
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
That is a load of historical bullshit.

We had been firebombing the shit out of Japan prior to dropping the nuclear bombs. Japanese diplomats were throwing out peace treaties.

Rogo
 
Oct 25, 2006
11,036
9
91
Originally posted by: Rogodin2
Either that or Operation Olympic, losses on both sides would have been even more catastrophic. It was going to be a 1,000,000 man invasion.
That is a load of historical bullshit.

We had been firebombing the shit out of Japan prior to dropping the nuclear bombs. Japanese diplomats were throwing out peace treaties.

Rogo
Wait what? Lies

If they were really looking for peace, they wouldn't have completely ignored the ultimatum we sent them.

It was one of two things. An invasion or forced surrender. The second choice had left bodies.
 

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