General Question

RexCredo's avatar

What's the name of the guy who physically dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Asked by RexCredo (139points) May 6th, 2010

I’m wondering this and whatever happened to him after he did it.

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36 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Paul Tibbets, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force.

gailcalled's avatar

The plane was the Enola Gay. I have to rush so can’t do more research. This should help you find the crew’s name (several people in plane; pilot, navigator, bombadier, I am guessing.”

BoBo1946's avatar

He was only following orders!

@robmandu thanks for the lookup on this one..interesting!

robmandu's avatar

Oh, you know what, William Sterling Parsons was the weaponeer on board.

According to Wikipedia, “as Bomb Commander he assembled — in flight — the triggering device of Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in combat over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.”

robmandu's avatar

By the way, it was a different plane and a different crew that bombed Nagasaki.

BoBo1946's avatar

@robmandu Parsons died of a heart attack at age 52 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

Looking at his photo, very slim guy…would never think he would die for a heart attack…

interesting..

Seaofclouds's avatar

Tibbets was piloting commanding the aircraft that carried the bomb. According to Wikipedia during the journey, Navy Captain William Parsons had armed the bomb, which had been left unarmed to minimize the risks during takeoff. His assistant, 2nd Lt. Morris Jeppson, removed the safety devices 30 minutes before reaching the target area.

So while Tibbets was piloting commanding the plane, these guys have a pretty instrumental part of actually dropping the bomb as well. Tibbets died in 2007 due to small strokes and heart failure. As someone else said, Parsons died of a heart attack at 52. And Jeppson just recently died in March of 2010, but it doesn’t say how.

Another little interesting tidbit, with Jeppson’s recent passing, the only surviving crew member of the Enole Gay is Theodore Van Kirk.

UScitizen's avatar

Enola Gay was the name of Tibbets mother. The B-29, “Enola Gay,” is fully restored and on display at the Air and Space Museum annex in Herndon, VA, near Dulles Airport.
The B-29 that dropped the second atomic bomb, on Nagasaki, was named “Bock’s Car.” It is on display at the Air Force museum, Dayton, OH. That (second) bomb was named, Fat Man. It was a plutonium bomb. Little Boy (the first bomb) was a uranium bomb.

BoBo1946's avatar

@UScitizen ummm..interesting..his mother!

Response moderated
stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The bombardier was Major Thomas Ferebee. Since there was no cloud cover over the target, he would have dropped the bomb visually. I’ll have to look up what happened to him.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Ferebee died in March 2000 at age 81. Like his commander, Paul Tibbets, he never expressed regret at what he had done. “Just doing my job”.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Mr. Murderer of thousands and thousands of innocent men, women, and children. I’m sure he is in Hell now.

gailcalled's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES: True about the innocent deaths; but the Japanese military were behaving with unbelieveable brutality. (Bataan death march, for one example of many.)

I have a friend whose family was interned in a Japanese. prison camp near Manila. He was 6 and his sister 4; they were forced to watch the beheadings that took place from time to time.

filmfann's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES The decision to drop the bomb was a very difficult one, and one I would not second guess it. Truman stood behind that decision to his death.
There is no knowing how many American deaths were prevented with it.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@gailcalled I’m not excusing the Japanese military for their barbaric brutality. My father almost died as a young child in Southern China when the Japanese invaded the country——he nearly starved hadn’t been for the Americans. But my mother, who was born in Yokohama, was almost a victim of Nagasaki, but fortunately did not move there as a young girl as her family had originally planned. What I am referring to is the bombing of Nagasaki, the second atomic bomb dropped on ordinary Japanese civilians. I think THAT was unnecessary. Tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children died horrifically in that bombing, and I’m sure if we “knew” some of the victims personally, and see some of the faces close-up, we would be very ashamed of that bombing. Sure, in war many innocent civilians die unnecessarily, but I think the bombing of Nagasaki was overkill and morally wrong. The guy who dropped the bomb may simply say that “he was just following orders and doing his job”, but so can a ruthless Al-Qaida terrorist who murders for the sake of instilling fear.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES We were also having other bombs made for future use if necessary. With the president’s okay, we would have dropped another bomb on Japan at the end of August (but they surrendered first). Our country was doing what it felt was necessary in a time of war. I feel bad about what happened, but I do not wish any ill actions against the people that were following orders. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at the guy that gave the order.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Seaofclouds I’m not mad, I just think it was morally wrong to drop a second bomb on Japan. One was enough. I think racism had to do a lot with it. I ask this, would the U.S. do the same thing today? Drop two atomic bombs on….for example…..Iran or North Korea? I bet not, and I wonder why. The uncivilized, evilness of using atomic bombs is apparent today, but it wasn’t so back then. That is why it was and is wrong.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Hind sight is 20/20. There are a lot of things we know now that we didn’t know then. The punishment for failing to follow orders is pretty steep for those in the military and if that one guy wouldn’t have done it, someone else would have.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Seaofclouds Yep, and the same for the guys who gassed all the Jews in Nazi Germany, the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Centers, etc. They were just doing what they were ordered to do, or what they were commanded by Bin Laden. Same reasoning, different outcomes. All wrongs, which do not make a right.

Nullo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES
I don’t think that racism had anything to do with it. More likely, it was a fear of an enemy that was not interested in surrendering, and waning stomach for the otherwise-inevitable bloody ground war. It is supposed that the bombings saved more lives than it ended, since there was talk of arming and mobilizing everybody left in the country to repel the invading Allied forces.

Ultimately, it’s just a bomb. A big, nasty bomb, but a bomb all the same. They all kill you just as dead. Nobody nowadays ever cries about the Tokyo fire bombings, or the Dresden fire bombings, or the Blitz, or the fun and games in China, or the countless other HE bombs dropped throughout the war.

Response moderated
Mikelbf2000's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES You cannot decide wether he went to heaven or hell. He wasnt a murderer he was a pilot of a bomber during a war. In war innocents are killed, The 2 atomic bombs actually saved millions of lives of Americans and Japanese. The Japanese would have never surrendered without the bombs. If America was within easy range of germany and Japan then American would have been bombed to hell and back just like Europe. The man you call “Mr. Murderer of Thousands” probobly didnt murder nearly as much as the Japanese did during the war.

gailcalled's avatar

And the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war, remember. Even during wartime there are supposed to be rules of engagement and adherence to The Geneva Convention.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

It’s not that hard to see who were the evil ones in WW2. The Nazis and The Japanese Empire were the evil that had to be punished. they killed so many more than the Atomic bombs. Something had to be done to end the war and punish the Japanese for their crimes against humanity.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Nullo I disagree. There was a bit of racism there. You just have to watch some of the old news films depicting the Japanese at the time.
@Mikelbf2000 You misread my answer. I said I’m “sure” he is in hell now. Whether he is or not is determined by God, and killing innocent, harmless men, women and children is a sin, and he sinned thousands and thousands of times over. That’s why I’m sure he is in Hell now. I don’t decide that, God does, and I’m sure he is there. And like I said, the bomb on Hiroshima was enough. To bomb Nagasaki too was vile and contempful.
@gailcalled With Pearl Harbor, military people were killed. Even if there was no declaration of war. Military people are in it for the fighting and killing. To kill so many innocent CIVILIANS, (and much, much more so than the number killed in Pearl Harbor) was clearly wrong.

Nullo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I think that you’re thinking of the propaganda materials. Those would have had no influence on the decision to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Salvation is not earned by good deeds, nor is it imperiled by the commission of sins, per Romans 10:9 and Ephesians 2:8. Were she to have relied on works alone, Mother Teresa would be rotting in Hell. Had Stalin repented and turned to Christ in his final hours, he would be in Heaven.

Would you like to look up the various atrocities and war crimes committed by the Japanese during World War II?

gailcalled's avatar

Re; Japanese atrocities; my friend, at 74, still has terrible nightmares about being forced to watch the Japanese behead prisoners at the internment camp in Manilla. He was 6 and his sister was 4 at the time. They weren’t allowed to turn their heads or shut their eyes.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Nullo and @gailcalled My friends, both of you are missing the point. No one has to remind me of the horrors of the Japanese military atrocities (remember the Rape of Nanking?). Of course those were unforgivable and immoral. Separate from those atrocities are the tragedies done to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which in my view, are immoral and atrocious too. I’m sure you would agree with me the INTENTIONAL killing of tens of thousands of innocent women, children, and men (who had nothing to do with the Japanese Imperial Army) was morally wrong. If you do not concur, then there is something amiss about you on a human level, and that’s a pity. There is no excuse you can give me to rationalize it. If you agree, then you stand by me and we are on common ground.

I know in war, the killing of innocent civilians is unpreventable, but when you have a GOAL to intentionally bomb two large cities (KNOWING very well that many, many innocent people will be killed horribily), that is a war crime, in my opinion. The second bombing of Nagasaki was clearly unforgivable.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES wether it was forgivable or not is not the case. If I were in position to make that dicision I would have made the same choice. The Japanese treatment of civilians and prisoners of war was dishonorable. Most importantly that they didnt surrender after the Hiroshima bomb. They would never have surrendered. The Japanese Empire and the Nazis were 2 Evils that had to be destroyed. Not to mention that the Nazis were looking to build the bomb and use it against The U.S. If the Japanese had the atom bomb they would have done the exact same thing. It was a brutal war that was literally a battle between good and evil.

Nullo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Like I said, bombing cities in wartime is old hat.
More civilians is worse, but fewer civilians isn’t better.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 I am shocked you would make that choice. The choice to intentionally and knowingly kill tens of thousands of innocent women, children, and men in such a horrific manner. That’s even worse than raping them! But if that’s your choice, that’s your choice, however immoral it may be. Sigh.

@Nullo Again, like “I” said, there is something amiss on a human level with all these counterarguments. There shouldn’t even be a discussion about whether it’s right or wrong, because it WAS wrong.

A true pacifist knows that. Even the guy who helped develop the atomic bomb had a lot of guilt about its use. Remember guys, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the ONLY places in the history of mankind where the atom bomb has been used. Why doesn’t the United States A-bomb the aggressive nations in the Middle East today? Or A-bomb North Korea? I’m sure if they had it, they would use it against America, right Mikelbf2000? And the reason why the U.S. doesn’t use it now towards these evil nations is because we KNOW it can kill too many innocent people! We know how immoral and wrong it would be. When the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, they saw the damage and horror it caused. So don’t give me the excuse that hindsight is 20/20. They should NEVER had dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki. I know that you know that that was clearly wrong and vile, yet you keep avoiding that fact, because the truth hurts.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES The nuclear weapons of today are many many times more powerful than the hiroshima and nagasaki bombs. Use of one nuclear weapon would probobly trigger WW3. If we used our nukes on any country we would just turn the world against us. IF you really think about it, If the allies invaded japan. Many more innocent men women and children would have been killed than those killed by the atomic bombs, The war would have drug on for years more. The atomic bombs ended the war. If I remember correctly it was after the second bomb that Japan finally surrendered.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

It would not be an easy choice for me to make. I’m not a monster. We now have weapons that are more precise in the targets and it would probobly not be necessary if it were in modern times. During world war 2 the bombs just killed indescrimintely where they fell. Many conventional bombings during the years that the war would have waged on would have killed many more innocence. Remember the atom bombs that were used although powerful, did not kill nearly as many as a nuke today would.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 Once again, you have either missed the point or you are avoiding the moral truth——that dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki was clearly wrong. Yes, the bomb on Hiroshima may have stopped the war, but to drop a second bomb on another large city, knowing that it would too cause great destruction, unspeakable horror, and terrible suffering on innocent women, children, and men, was an inhumane and moral-less act. Overkill. If you cannot see that, then I am very sorry for you. There is no further debate here, as I have made my opinion known, a voice for all the thousands of poor women, children and men who perished in the bombing, and whose descendants continue to suffer from the effects of radiation today. I am leaving this comment thread. Hopefully you will have been enlightened here——if not, that is a great pity. Good-bye.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES The first bomb on Hiroshima did not end the war, that is why the second one on Nagasaki was used and it ended the war.

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