PAUL AND HIROSHIMA "IT'S 8:15"
I came home later that day to learn that Paul W. Tibbets had just passed away. To know the story of Paul we must know the story of WWII. Paul was asked to do something that no man in the history of the world had done before. He was solely responsible for organizing, training, and commanding the world's first nuclear strike force. Paul was a pilot. He wasn't Albert Einstein. He wasn't Sir Winston Churchill but he and his crew changed the course of human history.
On August 6, 1945 Colonel Tibbets flew the B-29 Bomber the Enola Gay towards the Imperial Japanese City of Hiroshima and dropped the first atomic bomb at approximately 8:15 in the morning. The blast instantly killed close to 80,000 people. On August 15, 1945 Japan announced it's surrender.
Paul W. Tibbets was a man who may have had to act against his own morality and thoughts. But when you look at it the American people benefited. The people of europe benefited and in a strange way the people of Japan benefited from the atomic bomb. The invasion of Japan would have led to the possible extinction of the Japanese people. It was estimated that at least 2-3 million Japanese would die from the invasion plus the use of poison gas. It was also determined that Allied casualties would number between 300,000-1,000,000.
President Truman at the time was thrown into the mix after Roosevelt's demise. Everyone in Roosevelt's cabinet held him in distain. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was the only man who attempted to work with Truman who became Vice-President after replacing Henry Wallace. Wallace had stated during his second term that an invasion of Japan was not worth American lives.
George Marshall Chief of Staff had asked General Douglas MacArthur Allied Commander of the Pacific Theater to rethink the invasion plan. Although Japanese intelligence had largely been destroyed the number of divisions grew from 2-3 to 12-15 at the pre-planned invasion site. It appears the invasion plan had been compromised possibly by the Russians who were prepared to invade Western Europe. I don't think the US Army would have defeated the Russians at that point. The Russians had a larger force ready to go. The Americans were already drafting men up to forty five years of age. Next step would have been those over 45 and under 18. The US was redeploying it's european forces to the pacific for the full scale Invasion of Japan thus leaving europe vulnerable for an invasion by Russian Forces who at the time had not even declared war with Japan.
The atomic bomb was America's way of telling Russia not to invade europe.
Paul W. Tibbets had the guts to drop an atomic bomb whose blast and shockwave could have killed the crew of plane. He had no idea at the time if he would survive or perish in the action. Everything he was told by the scientists was theoretical. Models don't always work. The shockwave could have come over faster than the plane could go. The plane could have been knocked out of the sky, landing, or being captured in Japan if he had survived (Tibbets had cyanide capsules on his person).
In the 60's and 70's he was demonized by his own people for following orders. It was solely President Truman who made the ultimate decision as well as those responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Now at his request he wanted no funeral and no tombstone. That is how it ends for Paul Tibbets.
The great Greek philosopher DIOGENES was asked how he wished to be buried.
He instructed that his body be thrown outside the city wall so wild animals could feast on it.
When he was asked if he minded this, he stated, "Not at all, as long as you provide me with a stick to chase the creatures away!"
When asked how he could use the stick since he would be dead, he replied "If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?"
The Corinthians erected a pillar to his memory which rested a dog of Parian marble.
The last time I saw Paul alive I watched him from a distance in a parking lot in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. He was in a wheelchair. I held my camera in hand prepared to take the shot. I thought of Theodore Roosevelt when he stated "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
I placed my camera slowly down. I am not the crItic. I don't see GENERAL PAUL WARFIELD TIBBETS sitting hopelessly in a wheelchair. I see Paul Tibbets in all his glory flying in the skies above me.
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were.
Any man's death diminishes me
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. . . .
from Meditation 17 by John Donne, 1624