Paul W. Tibbets Jr., who commanded the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima to hasten the end of World War II, died Thursday at the age of 92.
"The crews who flew the atomic strikes were seen by Americans as saviors who had averted the huge casualties that were expected to result from an invasion of Japan. But questions were eventually raised concerning the morality of atomic warfare and the need for the Truman administration to drop the bomb in order to secure Japan's surrender.
"General Tibbets became a symbolic figure in the controversy, but he never wavered in defense of his mission."
"As the years passed, however, his image suffered in some quarters. While he was deputy chief of the United States military supply mission in India in 1965, a pro-Communist newspaper denounced him as 'the world's greatest killer.' In 1976, he drew a protest from Hiroshima's mayor, Takeshi Araki, when he flew a B-29 in a simulation of the Hiroshima bombing at an air show in Texas."