Paul Tibbets, phi công
thả trái bom nguyên tử đầu tiên ở
Tibbets, người lái chiếc oanh tạc cơ B-29 Enola Gay
thả trái bom nguyên tử ở
Sáu thập niên đă qua sau thế chiến thứ hai, ông vẫn khẳng định rằng ông không ân hận về phi vụ thả bom ấy và hàng đêm ông vẫn có những giấc ngủ b́nh an, thanh thản.
Theo lời một người bạn thân, ông không muốn được làm đám táng trọng thể và dựng bia trên mộ phần v́ ngại rằng sẽ thành nơi để tụ tập biểu t́nh .
Phi vụ lịch sử của ông Tibbets trên chiếc máy bay được mang tên mẹ ông Enola Gay là lần đầu tiên sử dụng vũ khí nguyên tử trong chiến tranh đưa tới việc kết thúc Thế Chiến II, tránh phải thi hành một kế hoạch đổ bộ mà các nhà hoạch định sợ là sẽ cực kỳ đẫm máu trên nước Nhật.
Máy bay và phi hành đoàn 14 người đă thả trái bom “Little Boy” nặng năm tấn vào sáng ngày 6 Tháng Tám năm 1945. Vụ nổ đă sát hại từ 70,000 đến 100,000 người và làm bị thương vô số người khác.
Ba ngày sau, Hoa Kỳ thả trái
bom nguyên tử thứ hai ở
Trong buổi lễ tưởng niệm 60 năm ngày thả trái bom nguyên tử đầu tiên, ông phát biểu: “ Khi được chỉ định phi vụ thả bom, tôi biết sẽ là một việc kinh hoàng, chúng tôi cảm nhận được, chúng tôi sắp gây ra một cuộc thảm sát, nhưng chúng tôi phải bỏ lại cảm xúc phía sau, hăng hái thi hành công tác tốt đẹp v́ nghĩ rằng phải chấm dứt cảnh chém giết của chiên tranh càng nhanh càng tốt.
Ông Tibbets, ngày đó 30 tuổi, là trung tá, ông đă không hề bày tỏ hối hận về phi vụ. Ông nói, đó là nhiệm vụ ái quốc phải tuân hành và là điều chính đáng phải làm.
Năm 1966, ông về hưu với cấp bực chuẩn tướng không quân.
(Mời quư vị đọc nguyên tác bằng anh ngữ)
Pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb dies
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 bomber Enola Gay
that dropped the atomic bomb on
Tibbets died at his
Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide his detractors with a place to protest, said Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend.
Tibbets' historic mission in the plane named for his
mother marked the beginning of the end of World War II and
eliminated the need for what military planners feared would have been an
extraordinarily bloody invasion of
The plane and its crew of 14 dropped the five-ton "Little Boy" bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The blast killed 70,000 to 100,000 people and injured countless others.
Three days later, the
"I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing," Tibbets told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published on the 60th anniversary of the bombing. "We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible."
Morris Jeppson, the officer who armed the bomb
"Ending the war saved a lot of
Tibbets, then a 30-year-old colonel, never expressed regret over his role. He said it was his patriotic duty and the right thing to do.
"I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.
"You've got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal."
He added: "I sleep clearly every night."
Tibbets took quiet pride in the job he had done, said journalist Bob Greene, who wrote the Tibbets biography, "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War."
"He said, 'What they needed was someone who could do this and not flinch ? and that was me,'" Greene said.
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr.
was born Feb. 23, 1915, in
He was a student at the
After the war, Tibbets said in 2005, he was dogged by rumors claiming he was in prison or had committed suicide.
"They said I was crazy, said I was a drunkard,
in and out of institutions," he said. "At the time, I was running the
Tibbets retired from the Air Force as a brigadier
general in 1966. He later moved to
The National Aviation Hall of Fame in
"There are few in the history of mankind that have been called to figuratively carry as much weight on their shoulders as Paul Tibbets," director Ron Kaplan said in a statement. "Even fewer were able to do so with a sense of honor and duty to their countrymen as did Paul."
Tibbets' role in the bombing brought him fame ? and infamy ? throughout his life.
In 1976, he was criticized for re-enacting the
bombing during an appearance at a
He said the display "was not intended to insult
anybody," but the Japanese were outraged. The
Tibbets again defended the bombing in 1995, when an outcry erupted over a planned 50th anniversary exhibit of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution.
The museum had planned to mount an exhibit that would have examined the context of the bombing, including the discussion within the Truman administration of whether to use the bomb, the rejection of a demonstration bombing and the selection of the target.
Veterans groups objected, saying the proposed display paid too much attention to Japan's suffering and too little to Japan's brutality during and before World War II, and that it underestimated the number of Americans who would have perished in an invasion.
They said the bombing of
Tibbets denounced it as "a damn big insult."
The museum changed its plan and agreed to display the fuselage of the Enola Gay without commentary, context or analysis.
He told the Dispatch in 2005 that he wanted his
ashes scattered over the
Newhouse confirmed that Tibbets wanted to be cremated, but he said relatives had not yet determined how he would be laid to rest.
Tibbets is survived by his wife, Andrea, and three sons ? Paul, Gene and James ? as well as a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren
. A grandson named after Tibbets followed his grandfather into the military as
a B-2 bomber pilot currently stationed in