American War Hero Remembered

Published: Nov. 2, 2007 at 2:57 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2007 at 4:50 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Gene Tibbets, son of Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, in an exclusive interview with WSFA 12 News.
Gene Tibbets, son of Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, in an exclusive interview with WSFA 12 News.

It's been called the "single most important event" of the last century.

In 1945, the atom bomb over Hiroshima struck a massive blow to Japan and the Axis Powers and ended the WWII.

Now, the pilot of the "Enola Gay" has died.

Joining the Army Air Corps in 1937, General Paul Tibbets worked his way through the ranks as a pilot.

It's that one mission sixty-two years ago, however, that changed everything--and sparked a moral debate that lives to this day.

Now in Montgomery with his wife, son Gene Tibbets recalls the turmoil that followed the explosion.

"We were watched for many years by the CIA. The Japanese put a reward out on my father for like 15 million dollars," he explained.

Luckily, no one ever collected the bounty, and Tibbets lived well into his 90s.  He was an author and a businessman, speaking around the world about that fateful August morning.

"He was doing a job, just like anyone doing their job," said Tibbets of his father.

A member of the first Air Command and Staff School in 1946, Tibbets did more in the Air Force than history dictates--something his son calls an important oversight.

"There's only probably a half-page about the atomic bomb dropping in any history book, and it's the most important thing of the twentieth century," he said.

The knowledge of our own past, Gene says, is critical.

"Learn your country, because every other country in the world knows us better than we know ourselves," he explained.

Now, at the age of 92, the man responsible for changing the world, is laid to rest.

"He said, 'I lived a good life.  I've been everywhere I wanted to go and have seen everything I wanted to see, and there's not many people that can say that,'" Tibbets said of his father before he died.

Tibbet's remains were cremated in Ohio on Thursday.  His ashes will be spread over the English Channel, so critics of the bombing won't be able to have a spot to protest.

Reporter:  Cody Holyoke