Retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr. (left) and his grandson, Col. Paul Tibbets IV, then a captain, fly the last flyable B-29 Superfortress, 'Fifi,' Oct. 2, 1998, in Midland, Texas. (Department of Defense)
Col. Paul Tibbets IV, grandson of the pilot who flew the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, has been nominated to get his first star, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday.
Currently deputy director of operations at Global Strike Command headquarters, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Tibbets is one of the few Air Force pilots who has flown the three bombers — the B-1, B-2 and B-52. In January 2013, Global Strike Command wrote a story about how he was trained to fly all three bombers.
“This is not an accomplishment many achieve,” Lt. Col. James Morris, 93rd Bomb Squadron B-52 Formal Training Unit commander, said in the story. “The bomber pilot community is small, and most stay with one bomber platform.”
Tibbets’ grandfather, Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., piloted the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomber was named after the elder Tibbets’ mother. Ironically, the bomb was named “Little Boy.”
When he qualified to fly the B-52 in January 2013, Tibbets’ bomber was decorated with the same nose art as his grandfather’s B-17 when it took part in the first Flying Fortress mission against Nazi-occupied Europe.
“My grandfather had a passion for aviation and, most specifically, bombers,” Tibbets said in the 2013 story. ”It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of my hero and to fly the nose art that my grandfather flew in 1942. I am honored to play a small part in keeping his legacy alive today.”