- On August 6, 1945, Paul was the pilot of the "Enola Gay" that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, helping end WW2. Paul named his B29 after his mother, Enola Gay (Haggard) Tibbets.
From The Atlantic Monthly:
The pilots I was embedded with were from the 393rd Bomb Squadron, out of Whiteman Air Force Base, near Kansas City, and they were in Guam on a four-month rotation. The 393rd is the squadron whose planes dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshim and Nagasaki. In fact, the current commander is the grandson of Colonel Paul W. Tibbetts, Jr., the pilot who flew the Hiroshima mission in 1945. Lieutenant Paul W. “Nuke” Tibbets IV grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and graduated from the Air Force Academy. He was one of several B-2 pilots whose quarters I shared.
“My grandfather was the ultimate warrior,” Tibbets told me in a mild southern accent that’s been fading during his years away from Alabama. “He was a gruff man of few words, whose real historic accomplishment was the B-29 unt he had organized and trained, which ended World War II. The fact that he personally flew the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb reflected his belief that the ultimate warrier is always in the front line. But it was a detail compared to his organizational accomplishment.”
“For my grandfather, themission was everything, which meant his family suffered. He divorced my grandmother and so wasn’t around a lot when my dad was growing up. My dad had terrible eyesight so couldn’t be a pilot. He became a pharmacist in civilian live and rose to become a colonel in the Army reserve, commanding a deployable MASH-like hospital unit. But my father gently encouraged me toward the Air Force. Good on him that he never forced it on me.”