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The Attack On Pearl Harbor Essay

1847 words - 7 pages


The attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 will forever be immortalized in the words of President Roosevelt as “a date which will live in infamy”, yet the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were far more deadly and carried greater geo-political implications. Many persons in the United States carried the burden of assisting in designing, deploying and eventually dropping the first and only nuclear weapons used in an act of war, yet Paul Tibbets’s experience is unique. As a Lieutenant Coronel in the U.S. Army, Tibbets was tasked with the organizing, planning, staging and flying the mission to drop the bombs. His orders lead him and to face many personal sacrifices, and living with the responsibility for killing hundreds of thousand of Japanese, while possibly saving millions of lives of American military personnel by eliminating the need to invade mainland Japan, and ending the war.
In June of 1944, General Ent, who was the Commanding officer of the Second Airforce, ordered the twenty-nine year old Lieutenant Coronel Paul W. Tibbets Jr., to form a flight group to undertake the mission of deploying the nuclear weapons “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. “He assembled a 1,800-man force – the 509th Composite Group – at a remote site in Endover, Utah, operating in the strictest secrecy (Greene 16). While unimaginative in today’s world and current military structure, a twenty-nine year old lieutenant in the Air Corps in 1944 would have similar command authority as a modern day general. Tibbets explains in Bob Greens book, Duty; A Father, His Son, and The Man Who Won the War, how he was able to take on such a challenge at a young age: “The answer is this: at twenty-nine I was so shot in the ass with confidence that it wasn’t a question of could I do it – there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. By the time I got the assignment to put together the atomic bomb-unit, I had worked my way through the war in Europe and North Africa, and I was completely convinced that I could do anything (Greene 46).
Coronel Tibbetts formed the unit as a composite group, or self sufficient group, that operated under it’s own authority and personnel, and was excluded from working with units other than those that were directly under Tibbets’s command in order to maintain a heightened level of security and secrecy because of the nature of their mission. Major Robert A. Lewis, who was Tibbets co-pilot on the Anola Gay, recalls “The day we arrived Tibbets mounted a sound truck and told us that we were an extra special unit in many ways. He said first, we would be completely self-sustaining, that we would have our own engineering, troop carrier, and ordnance groups – even our own control tower. He ended by saying, ‘You will not talk about this project to anyone. Don’t even speculate amongst yourselves’….’anyone who does not want to stay under these conditions can get a transfer right now’ (Tozer 71). The security restrictions around the base and the men...

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