Saturday, August 3, 2013

America's Story (part 13) - The Enola Gay

Wikipedia/Co Tibbets - the Enola Gay

What's in a name?

Ships so often are named after women.  And even airships ... we call them airplanes. ;)  And the Enola Gay was one of them.

This Boeing B-29 bomber was named after her commander's mother - Enola Gay Haggard Tibbets.   The commander's name back then in 1945 was  Colonel Paul Tibbets.   And the mission of this bomber hastened the end of the most deadly war in the 20th century, if not in human history  - World War Two.  

(For an interesting set of statistics of causalities of war by death toll:  - Wikipedia - List of wars by death toll.  World War Two tops the list.)

Worst of all previous recorded wars ...

World War Two (1939 - 1945) was very intense.  Its precursor was Kristallnacht: The November 1938 Pogroms.   But the Blitzkrieg of September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, was the tipping point.  Great Britain and France sent an ultimatum to Hitler to withdraw or they would go to war.  And Hitler ignored them, going deeper into Poland; and hence Britain and France declared war on Germany.  

World War Two ... it was on!   (reference:  World War II Starts)

Meanwhile, the allies of Germany, like Japan, fueled their entrance into the war in the Pacific with their aggressive military expansion.  (reference:  Causes of World War II in the Pacific )

The US was reluctant to get involved, but  Pearl Harbor changed all that.  After the United States declared war on Japan, Germany declared war on the United States - interesting enough, America was the only country in which Hitler declared war.  (reference:  Germany World War II -- declaration of war on America)

But with the United States, World War Two began and ended in the Pacific ...

Below is a timeline of the war in the Pacific theater:

On the road to nukes ...

As nuclear fission was discovered in 1938, (reference:  Discovery of Nuclear Fission) and atomic power seemed possible, Leo Szilard feared that Nazi Germany may be the first to create the atomic bomb.  Frustrated with America's lack of action in pursuing atomic energy, Szilard recruited Albert Einstein to write a letter to President Roosevelt.  It became known as the Einstein letter.  And it spurred the formation of the Manhattan Project.

The culmination was the development of the Atomic Bomb, first tested - July 16, 1945 - in New Mexico at the Trinity Site.   I had written an article about that place:  THE TRINITY SITE: WHERE THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB WAS EXPLODED

Victory in Europe (VE Day) ...

A few months before the Trinity test, Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 7, 1945 - days after Hitler committed suicide in the his bunker on April 30.    But the war was still raging on in Pacific.  (Reference:  World War II Battles - Pacific Theater 1941-1945 - Google Maps.)

The Enola Gay and August 6, 1945 ...

August 6, 1945 was the day that the Enola Gay flew her secret mission - the culmination of the Manhattan project.  And here an eyewitness account of one of the crew members, who was part of that mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima:

A personal story and eye witness ...

One of my friends, who passed away a few years ago, was a navy veteran and had served during World War Two.  He told me he was aboard a ship off the coast of Japan and saw the atomic blast of Hiroshima from a few hundred miles away.  Amazing.  But it is still was not over.

Victory in Japan (VJ Day)  ...

After the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, unconditionally, and officially on September 2, 1945.  

Much has been said and written about about the horror of nuclear weapons - and rightly so.   And it's still intensely debated - Was it necessary to drop the atom bomb on Japan?  

But many believed this hastened the end of the war and saved many lives.  Among them may have been my father-in-law.  He fought in World War Two in both the North African and European theaters.  He was there on D-Day + 4.  And, if the war had not ended a few months later, he would have been slated to be deployed to fight against Japan.  Perhaps, he would have become another grim statistic, one of the millions of causalities of that war.

The mission of the Enola Gay hastened the end of World War Two - the worst in the 20th century - and up to that point, perhaps the worst of all recorded history.

And America's part of ending World War Two is part of America's Story,
which will be continued ....


Posts on World War Two:

Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 - World War Two Soldiers Remembered  (2009)


Other posts in this series:

America's Story (part 1) - The Speech that redefined us, November 19, 1863 (2011)

America's Story (part 2) - Savages! (2011)

America's Story (part 3) - Over There - 1917, 1941 (2011)

America's Story (part 4) - Christmas 1944, when we said NUTS to the enemy (2011)

America's Story (part 5) - Amazing Grace (2012)

America's Story (part 6) - GI Joe Tuskegee Airmen (2012)

America's Story (part 7) - When Reagan was shot (2012)

America's Story (part 8) - Memorial Day, Gettysburg, and Amos Humiston (2012)


Photo from:

Wikipedia - Colonel Tibbets and the Enola Gay

No comments:

Post a Comment