Topic: Paul Tibbets

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Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (February 23, 1915 – November 1, 2007) was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force, best known for being the pilot of the Enola Gay, the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb in the history of warfare. The bomb, code-named Little Boy, was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. He was interviewed for documentary films about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including The World at War (1974), Men Who Brought the Dawn (1995) and Hiroshima (2005).

Tibbets was born in Quincy, Illinois, the son of Paul 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 for 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 relocated 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 Nu fraternity during 1934. After his undergraduate work, Tibbets had planned on becoming an abdominal surgeon. He attended the University of Cincinnati for a year and a half, before changing his mind, and enlisting in the Army Air Corps.

On February 25, 1937, Tibbets enlisted as a flying cadet in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was commissioned a second lieutenant during 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 Squadron, 97th Heavy Bomb Group flying B-17 Flying Fortresses during March 1942. Based at RAF Polebrook, he piloted the lead bomber for the first Eighth Air Force bombing mission in Europe on August 17, 1942, and later flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations until returning to the U.S. to test fly B-29 Superfortresses. "By reputation", Tibbets was "the best flier in the Army Air Force". One of those who confirmed this reputation was Dwight D. Eisenhower, for whom Tibbets served as a personal pilot at times during the war.

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