Paul Tibbets

United States Air Force pilot (1915–2007)

Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (February 23, 1915November 1, 2007) was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force and the pilot of the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb.

Paul Tibbets in 2003


  • I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it, and have it work as perfectly as it did... I sleep clearly every night.
    • 1975 interview [1]
  • The first time I dropped bombs on a target over there, I watched those things go down because we could do it in B-17s. I watched them go down. Then I watched those black puffs of smoke and fires in some instances. I said to myself, “People are getting killed down there that don’t have any business getting killed. Those are not soldiers."

    Well, then I had a thought that I had engendered and encountered for the first time in Cincinnati when I was going to medical school. I lived with a doctor. He would tell me about previous doctors, some that had been classmates of his, who were drug salesmen. [...] because they could not practice medicine due to the fact that they had too much sympathy for their patients. They assumed the symptoms of the patients and it destroyed their ability to render medical necessities. I thought, you know, I am just like that if I get to thinking about some innocent person getting hit on the ground. I am supposed to be a bomber pilot and destroy a target. I won’t be worth anything if I do that.

    Now, I have been lucky because if I had to make up my mind and want to reject something, I can reject it and I do that. So that was one of the things that I was faced with when, as you say, I was on my way to the target. But before that time, [...] I was clearly convinced in my own mind, and I had people telling me how much property and lives that bomb would take when it exploded because it was nondiscriminatory. It took everything.

    [...] I made up my mind then that the morality of dropping that bomb was not my business. I was instructed to perform a military mission to drop the bomb. That was the thing that I was going to do the best of my ability. Morality, there is no such thing in warfare. I don’t care whether you are dropping atom bombs, or 100-pound bombs, or shooting a rifle. You have got to leave the moral issue out of it.

    • September 12, 1989 interview [2]
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