General Paul Tibbets,'33

                                          General Paul Tibbets
                                           WMA Class of 1933
Paul Tibbets entered WMA as an 8th grader in the fall of 1928. The Quincy, IL native would prove to be one of Western’s most distinguished and loyal grads. While a cadet at WMA, Tibbets was a friend and teammate of Medal of Honor recipient “Butch O’Hare”.

After graduation in 1933, Tibbets attended the U. of Florida before enrolling in the Army Air Force in 1937. Early in 1942 he flew in the first daylight bombing raids by the US over German occupied Europe. (A feat that was memorialized in the famous movie “12 O’Clock High”) Tibbets insisted his crews disassemble, oil and reassemble their machine guns after each mission; a practice he credited to WMA. Late in 1942 he was called upon to ferry Gen. Eisenhower to Gibraltar on the eve of the North African invasion. In 1944 Tibbets was asked to lead the 509 Bomber Group on a secret assignment to organize and deliver the A-Bomb on Japan. On August 6, 1945 he would pilot the Enola Gay, a plane named for his mother, on a mission to drop the 1st A-Bomb on Hiroshima. Eight days later the war had been won and the world had entered the nuclear age. Later that year Tibbets would bring his crew to Western and review the corps.

Tibbets would later serve as Director of Allied Forces in Europe and in 1963, Deputy Director for the National Military Command System. His loyalty to WMA was strong until his death and in 2000 he returned to the campus for a reunion. Years after his retirement Tibbets wrote to fellow WMA grad, “a large part of any success I had in the military was due to the lessons I learned at Western,” He earned many awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross twice.

In keeping with his wishes, upon his death Paul Tibbets body was cremated and his ashes dispersed over the English Channel.

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