||"Col. Paul W. Tibbets,
Jr., pilot of the ENOLA GAY, the plane that dropped the atomic
bomb on Hiroshima, waves from his cockpit before the takeoff,
6 August 1945.". (NWDNS-208-LU-13H-5)
Scientists of the Manhattan Project had been working
feverishly throughout the war to develop the atomic bomb before
the Germans did. The new weapon was first tested on the ground in
the deserts of New Mexico. No one knew if this bomb could be dropped
from aircraft without endangering the lives of the crew.
The unit selected for this dangerous mission was
the 509th Composite Group commanded by Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.
Colonel Tibbets, shown here in his aircraft, flew the first atomic
bomb mission to Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Records show that the
aircraft was named in honor of his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets. For
this mission, Tibbets was awarded the Distinguished
of the men instrumental in the development of the bomb, Navy Capt. William
S. Parsons, flew along on the mission in order to arm the bomb away from
friendly territory and avoid endangering American lives. The bombing mission
was a success, and a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August
9, 1945. Within a week, Japan sued for peace. Captain Parsons was awarded
The Japanese government announced their willingness to
surrender within a week of the dropping of the two atomic bombs. A now
message notified Gen. Douglas MacArthur of the Japanese capitulation
as well as his appointment as Supreme Commander Allied Powers.