NEWS RELEASE BY THE AIRMEN MEMORIAL MUSEUM
STATEMENT OFFERED BY BRIGADIER GENERAL PAUL W. TIBBETS [USAF RETIRED] UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE FREEDOM AWARD.
A number of people and veterans organizations have asked me to comment on the subject of the Enola , the care afforded her by the Smithsonian Institution together with the treatment of the Atomic mission in general.
From my point of view, the matter has been politicized, and, as a result, mishandled. Those whose business it is to create, mold, manipulate and utilize public opinion have done so as a matter of self serving interest. Consequently, history has been denigrated; the Enola has been miscast and a group of valiant Americans have had their role in history treated shamefully. I am an airman, a pilot. In 1945 I was wearing the uniform of the US Army [Air Forces] following the orders of our commander - in- chief. I was , to the best of my ability, doing what I could to bring the war to a victorious conclusion- just as millions of people were doing here at home and around the world. Each of us - friend and foe alike- were doing the dictates of our respective governments. I recruited, trained and led the members of the 509th Composite Bomb Group. We had a mission. Quite simply, bring about the end of World War II. I feel I was fortunate to have been chosen to command that organization and lead them into combat. To my knowledge, no other officer has since been accorded the scope of the responsibilities placed on my shoulders at that time.
As for the missions flown against Japan on the 6th and 9th of August, 1945, I would remind you, we were at war. Our job was to win. Once the targets were named and presidential approval received, we were to deliver the weapons as expeditiously as possible consistent with good tactics. The objective was to stop the fighting, thereby saving further loss of life on both sides. The urgency of the situation demanded that we use the weapons first- before the technology could be used against us.
During the course of the half century that has elapsed since the use of the atomic weapons, many scribes have chronicled the flight of the Enola with nothing but descriptions of the destructive nature of our atomic weapons. Few such narratives have been objective. Indeed, I suggest to you that few, if any of the articles, books, films or reports have ever attempted to discuss the missions of August 6th and August 9th, 1945, in the context of the times. Simply stated the Enola and the 509th Composite Bomb Group have been denied a historically correct representation to the public. Most writers have looked to the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; to find answers for the use of those atomic weapons. The real answers lay in thousands of graves from Pearl Harbor around the world to Normandy and back again. The actual use of weapons as ordered by the President of the United States was believed to be the quickest and least costly [in terms of lives lost] way to stop the killing. I carried out those orders with the loyal support of the men of the 509th Composite Bomb Group and the United States military at large. Our job was to serve, our sworn duty was to God , country and victory. Today, there is a debate on how to present the Enola and the use of the atomic bombs to the American public and the world at large. There are questions as to how to best present the events of the summer of 1945. I have had many request, many appeals; to openly voice my opinions as to the Smithsonians proposal and depiction of these realities. Consequently, I suggest that the Enola be preserved and displayed properly, and alone, for all the world to see. She should be presented as a peace keeper and as a harbinger of a cold war kept from going "hot'. The Enola and her sister ship Bock's Car should be remembered in honor of the scientists who harnessed the power of the atom for the good of mankind. The talents and skills of those men and women who gave us the means to use, regulate and control atomic energy. Such notable positive contributions are worthy of Smithsonians recognition.