Tibbets, Paul Warfield, born 23-02-1915 in Quincy, Illinois, the son of Paul Warfield Tibbets, Sr., and the former Enola Gay Haggard. He was raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his father was a confections wholesaler. The family was listed there in the 1920 U.S. Federal Population Census. The 1930 census indicates that his family had relocated and was living at the time in Des Moines. Thereafter, the family moved to Miami, Florida. Tibbets graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois and later attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and was an initiated member of the Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Sigma Nufraternity in 1934. After his undergraduate work, Tibbets had planned on becoming an abdominal surgeon. He attended the University of Cincinnatifor a year and a half, before changing his mind, and enlisting in the Army Air Corps. On 25-02-1937, Tibbets enlisted as a flying cadet in the U.S. Army Air Camps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1938 and received his flight commission at Kelly Field, Texas, later Kelly AFB and now the Kelly Field Annex of Lackland AFB. Tibbets was named commanding officer of the 340th Bombing Squadron , 97th Heavy Bomb Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces, flying B-17 Flying Fortress in March 1942. Based at RAF Polebrook, he piloted the lead bomber for the first Eight Air Force bombing mission in Europe on 17-08-1942, and later flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations until returning to the U.S. to test fly B-29 Super fortresses. “By reputation”, Tibbets was “the best flier in the Army Air Force”. One of those who confirmed this reputation was then General Dwight D Eisenhower for whom Tibbets served as a personal pilot at times during the war. In September 1944, he was selected to command the project at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, that became the 509th Composite Group , in connection with the Manhattan Project. Initially, Tibbets was unfamiliar with even the concept of an atomic bomb and was quoted in a 1946 article in The New Yorker saying, “I will go only so far as to say that I knew what an atom was.” Once they were in Wendover, Utah, the selected base for the 509th composite group
, Tibbets brought his wife and family along with him . On 05-08-1945, Tibbets formally named B-29 serial number 44-86292 Enola Gay after his mother. On August 6, the Enola Gay departed Tinian Island in the Marianas with Tibbets at the controls at 2:45 a.m. for Hiroshima, Japan. The atomic bomb, code named Little Boy, was dropped over Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. local time.
the radio operator. The U.S. government apologized to Japan in 1976 after Tibbets re-enacted the bombing in a restored B-29 at an air show in Texas, complete with mushroom cloud. Tibbets said that he had not meant for the reenactment to have been an insult to the Japanese. Tibbets’ marriage, to the former Lucy Wingate ended in divorce in 1955; his second wife was a French woman named Andrea Quatrehomme . In 1959, he was promoted to Brigadier General. He retired from the U.S Air Force on 31-08-1966. During the 1960s, Tibbets was named military attaché in India, but this posting was rescinded after protests in India regarding Tibbets’ role in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. After his retirement from the Air Force, he worked for Executive Jet Aviation, a Colombus, Ohio, based air taxi company now called Netjets. He retired from the company in 1970 and returned to Miami, Florida. He later left Miami to return to Executive Jet Aviation, having sold his Miami home in 1974. He was president of Executive Jet Aviation from 1976 until his retirement in 1987. Tibbets briefly commanded the 393rd Bomb Squadron during his tenure in the 509th Composite Group. His grandson Colonel Paul W. Tibbets IV, USAF
, a 1989 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, was also commander of the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, from 2005–2007 and flew the B-2 Spirit. The 393rd is one of two operational squadrons under the same unit his grandfather commanded, the 509th Bomb Wing.
Death and burial ground of Tibbets, Paul Warfield.
Tibbets died in his Columbus, Ohio, home on 01-11-2007 at the old age of 92. He had suffered small strokes and heart failure during his final years and had been in hospice care. Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide his detractors with a place to protest. He asked to be cremated and scattered over the English Channel and this wish was honored. Two other famous Word War II personalities had a sea grave, the U boat ace Otto Kretschmer and Hitler’s adjutant Otto Günsche. General Tibbets is survived by his wife, Andrea; his sons Paul 3rd, of North Carolina; Gene , of Alabama, and James, of Columbus; six grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren. His marriage to his first wife, Lucy, ended in divorce.
English side of the channel.
French side of the Channel.