Viewing page 218 of 307

neatly kept.  A brigadier general has a right-hand man with him all the time.  I knew him and his wife very well, having been in Dallas with him for two months to check out B-25-26's.  He was also my flight instructor at Randolph field four years earlier.  He said, "George, I want to talk to you.  I want you to be the Operations Officer of my wing."  I said, "Jim, there's no way you'll get me."  When he asked why, I replied, "I can't tell you why." That was pretty much the conversation.  I could not tell him why I was on Tinian because it was top secret.  The dinner was excellent!  His driver returned me to my Quonset hut.  After the war, Jim used to stop by and see us once a year, but I haven't seen him for ten years now.

"In July, General Farrell arrived to take charge.  On his way to Tinian, he stopped off at Guam, where he conferred on the details of the operation with General Curtis E. Lemay, then in command of the 20th Air Force and about to become the Chief of Staff of the Strategic Forces.  He then called on Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, whose headquarters were also at Guam, and arranged with him for assistance from the Navy.  This included placing submarines in Japanese waters along the route to atomic bomb fliers were to take, to rescue us in case we were forced to bail out or ditch.  The Navy would also have a number of Navy flying boats in readiness at nearby bases.

At the end of the conference, Admiral Nimitz called General Farrell over to the window and pointed to an island a short distance from Guam.  "That island over there," Admiral Nimitz said, "is Rota.  There are about three thousand Japanese on it.  They bother us a great deal.  They have radios.  They know what we are doing.  They are sending out information." (We are aware of this.  Tokyo Rose welcomed the 509th to Tinian.  Little did she know this was the beginning of the end.)

"Haven't you got a small bomb you can drop on Rota?" Nimitz asked Farrell.  "I don't feel it warrants an amphibious invasion at this time, but they do bother us."

"Unfortunately, Admiral," General Farrell replied, "all our bombs are big ones."

Early on the morning of Sunday, August 5, 1945, Marianas time (Saturday, August 4, in the United States), word came that the weather would be favorable for a takeoff early the next morning.  Preparations were at once speeded up to get the bomb ready for immediate loading.  But Captain (now Rear Admiral) William S. Parson, Navy Ordnance expert, who was completely responsible for the technical control of the bomb and for decisions as to its use, was worried.  The night before he had seen four B-29's in a row crash and burn at the end of the runway.

"You know," he said to General Farrell, "if we crack up at the end of the runway tomorrow morning and the plane gets on fire, there is the danger of an atomic explosion, and we may lose this end of the island, if not the whole of Tinian, with every blessed thing and person on it."

"We will just have to pray that it doesn't happen," General Farrell replied.

"Well," said Captain Parsons, "if I made the final assembly of the bomb after we left the island, that couldn't happen."^2

General Farrell, deputy to General Groves, called a meeting of all airplane commanders in our squadron.  He, along with Col. Tibbets, called each of us to a room individually.  He asked each of us, "What do you know about the bomb?"  After the 

^2 "Dawn Over Zero: Story of the Atom Bomb" P. 204

[[end page]]
[[start page]]

meeting we were shown the blast at Trinity in New Mexico on July 19.  He went on to say, "You will not be court marshaled for anything you say.  We just want to know what you know about the bomb."  Ralph Taylor, John Wilson, Norm Ray, Claude Eatherly, Ralph DeVore and I talked together afterwards.  We had discussed our secret only on a one-to-one basis, but never in a group.  Norm had gone to college in South Dakota, where they had as atom smasher which had been kept secret.  I told this to Gen. Farrell when he questioned me.

We had to drop four or five "pumpkins" filled with TNT on the Japanese Empire before we could go on a special raid.  We found out later this special raid was the dropping of the atom bomb.  On the third block buster raid, my bombardier, Strudwick, took over the airplane to make the run, but the bomb didn't release from the shackle.  On the second release, it still didn't release.  I got upset with him and chewed him out.  I told him if he didn't get it off this time, he would have to get in the bomb bay and release it manually.  He got my message, and the third run was successful!

On one of the raids, I was OD (Officer of the Day) running around in a Jeep, getting everybody off for the bombing.  I was headed toward Hopkins' plane and was about 200 feet away when the bomb dropped out.  I heard a noise and thought it was going to explode - all 10,000 lbs. of TNT!  I slowed the Jeep down and thought to myself, "If it doesn't explode now, it never will." We got the bomb reloaded, Hopkins flew off and dropped it on the Japanese Empire.

We had a briefing the night before the bomb drop at approximately 11 P.M.  We took off at about 2:30 A.M. from the north runway at Tinian.  I formed up with Tibbets and Sweeney about 45 minutes after takeoff.  Col. Paul Tibbets, flying the "Enola Gay", carried the atomic Bomb, "Little Boy".  Maj. Charles Sweeney, the pilot of the "Great Artiste", flew the No. 2 position on Tibbets' right wing and carried blast gauge instruments.  These instruments had little parachutes on them and were dropped when the bomb was dropped.  They measured the heat of the blast.  Capt. George Marquardt, in the No. 3 position off Tibbets left wing, flew "Necessary Evil" which carried photographic equipment and the scientist Dr. Bernard Waldman.  He told my crew, "You boys are making history today." He showed us his hands which had been burned from radiation.  He talked about the bomb, saying "I don't have to be quiet any longer."

We were talking to each other over the radio when all of a sudden Col. Blanchard came over the air and said, "Hey, you guys!  How about some radio silence?"  He was on Iwo Jima with Charles McKnight and was monitoring our radios.  

Admiral Parsons was in the bomb bay on the Enola Gay.  Before the plane started to climb, he armed the bomb so it would detonate at 1800 feet after it was released, and then they climbed to 30,000 feet.

We got to within approximately 300 miles of Hiroshima, the primary target, and Major Eatherly, who was flying the weather plane 45 minutes ahead of us, told us the weather was clear over Hiroshima.  This was necessary because the bomb had to be dropped visually.  We could have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima by radar, but the Air Force wouldn't allow it.  When Eatherly flew over Hiroshima, the Japanese were alerted to take cover in the air raid shelters.  When we came over 45 minutes later, the Japanese were not alerted and had come out of the shelters.  This is why so many people were killed.

Dr. Bernard Waldman, Ph.D., was assigned to my plane as an observer and was supposed to take photographs of the blast with a movie camera.  Dr. Waldman received his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, where he made friends with a physicist

6
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.