Enola Gay Pilot Paul Tibbets Dies

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Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, died at his home in Columbus, Ohio, early Thursday. He was 92. Tibbets was a 30-year-old Lt. Col. when he was called on to plan and execute the world-changing mission, a mission he told Studs Terkel in a 2002 interview that could have been even more dramatic.

In that interview, Tibbets told Terkel that the original plan called for simultaneous drops on Europe and Japan to ensure surprise in both theaters. However, the war in Europe ended three months before the weapon was ready so efforts were concentrated on the still-resisting Japanese. Tibbets had been in ill health for a couple of months. At his request, there will be no funeral or grave marker, which he believed would become a rallying point for protesters. Tibbets never expressed regret over dropping the bomb, saying it was his duty. He asked that his ashes be spread over the English Channel, where he flew for part of his war service.

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Studs Terkel's 2002 interview with Tibbets.