A death yesterday footnoted one of the most horrific events in the history of man. The death was of Paul Tibbits, he was 92. Mr. Tibbits piloted the Enola Gay into destiny – He and his crew dropped the first atomic bomb used in warfare. The idea of using such a weapon and the resulting trauma to Japan have been a matter of debate for six decades. There is no debate among the men who were fighting that war.
Your grandfather was 18 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He and a local friend joined the army on the buddy system – The sleeping giant had awakened and the resources were coursing through the elastic arteries of defense and the veins of revenge. Two and a half years later he landed on Omaha Beach, marched across France and Germany, helped defeat Hitler, then packed his Purple Heart and Battle Ribbons to head to the Pacific. There was a job to finish with the Japanese.
About twenty years ago I asked him what he thought about the use of the atomic bomb.
He sat back in his chair and sort of looked off into space, then said, “I remember I was on a troop ship in the Atlantic. The ship was built to carry about 2,000 passengers and it was loaded with about 5,000 weary soldiers. We were going home for a short rest, then we were to go to the Pacific to participate in the invasion of Japan. It was on this ship that I heard about the atomic bomb and about the surrender of Japan.”
He hesitated, then continued, “I thought we were going to sink our ship – 5,000 men dancing the jig.
Ohg,” he paused again, “We knew this meant that we were going home to stay. So I said then – good enough, and that is my position today.”
All politics is local, as the saying goes.