|November 1st, 2007, 05:14 PM||#1|
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RIP Paul Tibbets
Pilot Of Plane That Dropped First Atom Bomb Dies At 92
POSTED: 11:27 am EDT November 1, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A spokesman in Columbus said the U.S. pilot whose B-29 dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, has died.
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Paul Tibbets Junior was 92. Long-time friend Gerry Newhouse said the commander of the Enola Gay died Thursday at his home on the city's east side after a two-month decline from a variety of health problems.
According to his official biography, Tibbets grew up in Florida after being born in Illinois on Feb. 23, 1915. He took his first plane ride at age 12, when he threw Baby Ruth candy bars with paper parachutes from a biplane flying over a crowd at the Hialeah track near Miami.
He studied Medicine at the University of Florida and Cincinnati, but became a cadet in the Army Air Corps in 1937 at Ft. Thomas, Ky.
By 1942, Tibbets was a squadron commander. He flew 25 missions in B-17s, including the first American flying fortress raid against occupied Europe.
The next year, he became a B-29 test pilot. His biography reports that Tibbets was briefed on The Manhattan Project in September, 1944 – making him one of first Americans to know about the development of the atomic bomb.
He personally supervised the modifications necessary to make the B-29 capable of delivering nuclear weapons. He requisitioned 15 new B-29s with very little armor plating, extra range, and more altitude than anti-aircraft fire could reach. They were also made to carry a single 10,000 pound bomb.
Tibbets’ air group moved to Tinian Island, in the Marianas Islands. On Aug. 5, 1945, President Harry Truman authorized nuclear force against Japan. The B-29 called the “Enola Gay,” with Tibbets in command, delivered its nuclear payload onto Hiroshima on Aug. 6 at 2:45 a.m. The ensuing blast killed more than 100,000 people according to official estimates.
For his service to his country, Tibbets received several honors including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Tibbets was a Brigadier General by the time he retired.
rest in peace, and thank your for your service.
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