Paul Tibbets Dies at 92

by Ryan on November 1, 2007

in Culture

Who is Paul Warfield Tibbets anyway? 

He was the pilot and commander of the mission on August 6, 1945, to drop an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in a plane named after his mother, the Enola Gay.  Aside from this mission and another on August 9, 1945 (it was still August 8th in the USA) over Nagasaki, never again was an atomic bomb dropped on a military target in war (as of yet, of course). 

Nearly 100,000 people died from the Hiroshima blast, thousands of whom died within weeks due to radiation poisoning that we did not forsee.  Tibbets, a colonel, was unapologetic about his role in world history.  In fact, he said, “I sleep clearly every night.”  By all accounts, he was not a monster.  He just understood that a lot of death and suffering was needed to possibly end the largest, costliest war America had endured since the Civil War, and that he had a mission to accomplish for his country. 

Unfortunately, the GI Generation of World War II is disappearing rapidly, and with them many stories and perspectives.  Tibbets was 30 when he dropped the bomb, a young man with a life ahead of him.  An historical figure died today, and I believe it was worth noting, and despite the atomic age and Cold War that would follow as a result of these attacks, it ended the greatest war in human history and made the world see how horrible these weapons can be if actually used.

Pic from Motts Military Museum.

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The Goodbyes of 2007 « Axis of Right
December 31, 2007 at 11:20 am

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Anonymous November 1, 2007 at 5:07 pm

The amount of death and destruction avoided by this incident seems dwarfed by the pandora’s box that using one of these things has opened. I don’t find Mr. tibbets personally reprehensible, as he was only following orders, but I think it’d be a much better world if he, and anyone tasked with a similar choice just said no.

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Matt November 1, 2007 at 9:25 pm

I find it troubling how many Americans today believe that we should have never dropped those bombs. I think many of us have a difficult time understanding what was facing this nation just 62 years ago. Imagine living in a world in which you have been attacked by an enemy that could very possibly topple your government, eliminate your freedoms, and destroy your way of life. To suggest that we shouldn’t use the full force of our military and every technology at our disposal to repel such a threat would be laughable, even treasonous! Do you think Germany worried about civilian casualties when they were bombing London or invading the Soviet Union? According to Wikipedia there were approximately 47 million civilian deaths during WWII… which means the two atomic bombs didn’t even account for 0.5% of the civilian casualties during the war. In fact, more than half of all deaths during the war were Allied civilians! We didn’t have the luxury of pontificating about whether or not we were stooping to the level of our enemies by dropping the atomic bombs. We were too busy fighting for our survival!

There are some very important lessons from WWII that, I am afraid, we as a nation are forgetting. Once again, we see ourselves faced with an enemy that is hellbent on destroying us and our way of life. This time, the threat may seem more distant and less credible, but their intentions are every bit as real. The brave men who fought and died to save our way of life just six decades ago must be rolling over in their graves… At the very same time we have soldiers fighting to defend our freedom, we have senators (Durbin and Kerry) comparing those brave men and women to Nazis and terrorists. There are lawyers and activists fighting for the “civil liberties” of enemy combatants who dedicated their lives to ripping away every liberty and freedom we have. We are so concerned about “torture” that we severely limit our interrogation techniques on known terrorists, when at the same time, any one of those terrorists would gladly take a blunt knife and saw off our heads. On top of all this, we impose rules of engagement on our troops that are more concerned with the safety of foreign civilians than that of our own soldiers. Despite all of these self-imposed limitations, we are winning the war on terror… However, I believe the day will come when we, once again, face a threat so powerful that we cannot defeat it without using every weapon and every technology at our disposal. When that time comes, I pray that our leaders will look back and remember the lessons taught to us by the “greatest generation”.

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Anonymous November 6, 2007 at 8:39 pm

Wait, did you just call that guy a traitor because he was sad that the a-bomb got used, and ushered in a new world where if a computer malfunctions and people lose their heads the world goes away? Is that treason?

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Anonymous November 6, 2007 at 8:47 pm

oh and 1 more thing here’s an article about some of ‘the greatest generation’ interrogators who would be rolling over in their graves. It basically says you are factually correct, they are upset about torture, because they really felt guilty about censoring letters and bugging cells, and so waterboarding has them upset.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/05/AR2007100502492.html

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Jack Flinsbaugh November 16, 2007 at 10:10 am

Mr. “oh and 1 more thing”, I think there were only 2 ww2 veta who were upset about the current situation and NONE said ANYTHING about waterboarding (although this is the place I must say that I, an alienated [vet and republican], am appalled that we engage in any torture at all especially waterboarding. Still, don’t make up things and put in these good men’s mouths.

The REAL POINT is that the next move for the U.S. in WW2 was to invade Japan. It was planned and being staged when THE BOMBZ saved us from that. As fiercely as the Japanese fought on even desert islands like Iwo Jima, it was estimated that between 1 and 2 million american infantry lives would be lost through a land invasion of Japan – which was about 2 months away.

So: 100,000 lives of the agressors twice over, or 2 million American lives taking it street-by-street. What do you think?

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