Hiroshima pilot, Paul W. Tibbets dies at age 92
Paul W. Tibbets, the pilot of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Japan during World War II, died Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92, reports the New York Times and BBC.
Gen. Tibbets' health had been declining for the past two months, said Gerry Newhouse, a friend of Tibbets.
The plane Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 1945 to complete the mission known as the Manhattan Project. At 8:15 a.m., the atomic bomb known as Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. Tibbets said he has no regrets about being involved in the act that is said to be "the beginning of the end" of WWII.
After returning from the mission, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the Army Air Forces’ highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor.
Paul Warfield Tibbets was born on Feb. 23, 1915 in Quincy, Ill. His family moved to Miami and a plane ride at age 12 interested him in becoming a pilot. Although his father wanted him to become a doctor, his mother, Enola Gay Haggard, encouraged him to follow his dream.
Tibbets attended both the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati, then enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1937.
He began working with the secretive Manhattan Project in 1944, training other pilots after being instructed to find the best. Tibbets did and the 12 crew members carried out a flawless mission over Hiroshima.
Although at the time he and the others were regarded as heroes, in the years following Tibbets has become a target of controversy.
A pro-Communist newspaper called him "the world's greatest killer" and was criticized in 1976 for re-enacting the event at an air show in Texas.
Tibbets retired from the Army in 1966.
He is survived by his wife, the former Andrea Quattrehomme, two sons from his first marriage to former Lucy Wingate, Paul III and Gene, and a grandson, Col. Paul Tibbets IV.