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Death of Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.

Jim Root

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This was just posted on the web:

"Pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb dies

By JULIE CARR SMYTH, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 51 minutes ago

Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Thursday. He was 92 and insisted almost to his dying day that he had no regrets about the mission and slept just fine at night.

Tibbets died at his Columbus home, said Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend. He 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.

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.

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 published on the 60th anniversary of the bombing. "We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. 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. He said it was his patriotic duty and the right thing to do.

"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."

He added: "I sleep clearly every night."

Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr. 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 Army Air Corps.

After the war, Tibbets said in 2005, he was dogged by rumors 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. "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, saying the proposed display paid too much attention to Japan's suffering and too little to Japan's brutality during and before World War II, 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 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.

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

Newhouse, Tibbets' longtime friend, confirmed that Tibbets wanted to be cremated, but he said relatives had not yet determined how he would be laid to rest."

My brother had the opportunity to meet and talk with Tibbets several times over the past 30 years (my brother married the daughter of a comarde of Tibbets who flew with him during the War).

The issue of the use of Atomic Weapons by the United States to end the WWII has remained controversial to this day.

I post this information here to remind readers that the one man who was involved in the discussions within the Truman administration on if the bomb shoud be used, who opposed that use, was future Warren Commissioner John J. McCloy.

During a meeting with Truman on June 18, 1945 McCloy argued in favor of an alternative diplomatic approach to achieve a surrender by the Japanese. McCloy wrote, "everyone was so intent on winning the war by military means that the introduction of political consideration was almost accidental."

Upon McCloy's advice "The Committee of Three" (Henry Stimson, James Forrestal and Joseph Grew) was assigned by President Truman to explore alternative inducements to make Japan surrender. McCloy wrote a proposal that included a demand that was incorporated in Article 12 of the Potsdam Proclamtion. The original draft of the Proclamation included language that would have allowed Japan to keep it emperor, a condition that would have greatly increased the chances of Japan's acceptance of surrender. After the atomic bombings, McCloy believed for the rest of his life that "we missed the opportunity of affecting a Japanese surrender, completely satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping bombs" (References from "Nuclearfiles.org, a project of the nuclear age peace foundation).

McCloy based his position upon information he was receiving from intercepted coded Japanese messages. This information was provided to McCloy by the work of John B. Hurt (Declassified Hurt document written in 1947).

Five months before the assassination of JFK, McCloy would have a major disagreement with Kennedy over the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 (as would Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor). McCloy refused to go to Moscow to negotiate the Treaty feeling that the time was right for a more comprehensive treaty.

Did McCloy have similar informtion in 1963 to what was available to him in 1945?

One thing is for certain, Lee Harvey Oswald attempted to contact someone named John Hurt after the assassination and the Warren Commission, that McCloy was a part of, neglected to share this information with the American public.

Searching through the historical record a little deeper we find that McCloy discussed the disadvantages upon the US Nuclear position that could be compromised at the Paris Summit (to be held the following May) in November of 1959. That Summit would never happen after Francis Gary Powers was downed while flying over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960 (after a former Marine radar operator named Lee Harvey Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union and threatened to provide information to the Soviets about the U-2).

Did McCloy gain an advantage to his position after the defection of Lee Harvey Oswald and the downing of the U-2?

To me it is an argueable position to suggest that the failure of the Paris Summit played a role in the election of John F. Kenndy in 1960.

In the first words spoken by President John F. Kennedy at his first press conference on January 25, 1961 are here quoted:

"I have several announcements to make, first.

I have a statement about the Geneva negotiations for an atomic test ban. These negotiations, as you know, are scheduled to begin early in February. They are of great importance and we will neeed more time to prepare a clear American position. So we are consulting with other governments and are asking to have it put off until late March. As you know, Mr. John J. McCloy is my pricipal adviser in this field, and he has organized a distriguished parnel of experts......"

It is a historical fact that McCloy's position on Nuclear Arms talks were advanced as a result of the failure of the Paris Summit and the election of John F. Kennedy.

McCloy did not get his way in 1945. In 1963 McCloy did not get his way once again. Then Kennedy died and McCloy found himself back in Geneva and ultimatley did get his way with the signing of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968.

Jim Root

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Searching through the historical record a little deeper we find that McCloy discussed the disadvantages upon the US Nuclear position that could be compromised at the Paris Summit (to be held the following May) in November of 1959. That Summit would never happen after Francis Gary Powers was downed while flying over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960 (after a former Marine radar operator named Lee Harvey Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union and threatened to provide information to the Soviets about the U-2).

I had forgotten about this little tidbit. Why then would Otto F. Otepka and Frances Knight even have allowed

Oswald back into this country without questioning him, examining him or arresting him for possibly leaking

the U-2 classified information? Otepka would later be fired for leaking classified information during the

security clearance hearings of Walt Whitman Rostow. Maybe Otepka believed that leaking classified information

for a cause you believed in was justified in his own case. Why not in Oswald's case then?

Because Oswald was an asset of US Intel and they had invested much in his training as a programmed assassin.

And they had plans about his ultimate utilization. Why would they hand him over to de Mohrenshcildt who

ran assassins in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and even from Harbin, Manchuria into Soviet Russia? Now don't get

all huffy snitzed. Whether or not Oswald fired a shot and whether or not he hit anyone is NOT EVEN AN ISSUE here.

He DID kill Corporal Schrand.

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