Paul Tibbets was the pilot of B-29 bomber “Enola Gay” which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He died on November 1, 2007, at his home in Columbus, Ohio, at 92. Rather than taking his rightful place in a grave at Arlington National Cemetery, Tibbets himself asked not to be buried there for a very particular reason.

A Quick Look Back at The Day of The Bombing

Effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (Wikimedia Commons).

It was August 5, 1945, when President Truman approved the use of atomic weapons against Japan. The next day, Paul Tibbets flew Enola Gay, his B-29 serial number 4486292 that he chose and named after his mother. The uranium bomb called “Little Boy” instantly killed 80,000 people and a lot more later on due to radiation exposure. That, and the other A-bomb that dropped in Nagasaki finally compelled Japan’s Emperor Hirohito to announce their unconditional surrender in World War II. (We have written a thorough article about Paul Tibbets here.)

No Regrets

Tibbets immediately became a national hero who ended the war with Japan. He was even awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and invited by President Truman to the White House. In 1976, he reenacted the bombing at a Harlingen, Texas, air show and claimed that it “was not intended to insult anybody.” The Japanese were not pleased.

His family was also proud of him. His grandson, named Paul Tibbets IV, graduated from the US Air Force and flew the B-2 Spirit as a commander of the 393d Bomb Squadron, one of the two squadrons that his father had commanded during his career.