November 11, 2007


Sometimes things converge. Random events form a temporary pattern before swept away in the great entropic expansion. Just now is one of those ethereal moments. Air Force General Paul Tibbets died last week, well into his nineties. If you do not know who Paul Tibbets was or what he did, well, this is for you. The image above is one I took of General Tibbets aircraft the "Enola Gay", named after his mother. Arguably, it is one of the most famous aircraft of all time. It is the aircraft that dropped the first atomic weapon ever deployed against an enemy in wartime. In a few brief minutes, Tibbets, the "Enola Gay" and their cargo, dubbed "Little Boy" incinerated, irradiated, and otherwise killed 80,000 residents of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In doing so, he hastened the end of World War II and arguably was instrumental in saving the lives of an estimated million U.S. servicemen and their fanatical Japanese opponents. He has said that he sleeps very well at night, thank you.

In case you have never met up close and personal, this is "The Bomb"

Part of the "Convergence" idea of this post has to do with Paul Tibbits, "Little Boy", WWI, WWII, Veterans Day, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. Today is Veterans day, originally called Armistice Day. We commemorate our veterans duty and sacrifice on November 11th. It was on November 11th in 1918 that the guns of the First World War fell silent. The greatest bloodletting in history had ground to it's tragic and futile conclusion. Among the many who died on far-away battlefields in that "War to End All Wars" were proud members of the United States Marine Corps. I do not single out these heroes today because their sacrifice was greater or lesser than any of those others involved in that particular conflict, but simply because they have just celebrated their 232nd Birthday as an organization. When Paul Tibbets dropped that bomb to begin the end of WWII, he was flying from an airstrip on a pacific island that had been recently been occupied by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces. It fell to the United States Marine Corps to take it from them. Thousands of Marines died in the assault. Many more thousands of Japanese were killed, fighting to the last bullet and last grain of rice. There were very few prisoners. It was not that kind of war. The Marines blasted the Japanese positions with explosives and buried them in their underground bunkers. They used flamethrowers to burn the enemy alive. They mowed down suicidal Japanese sword charges with John Browning's fearsome machine guns.

Talk to them sometime about "water boarding".

Despite the tender attentions of Paul Tibbets and the USMC, the Japanese would not surrender. Did I call them fanatics? I did and they were. The picture above is of yet another B-29 bomber which took off a week or so later from that same island consecrated with the blood of so many warriors. It mission was to entice the Japanese once again to the surrender table. The instrumentality of the message looked almost exactly like this:

This little Hallmark Greeting is named "Fat Man" It is the second atomic bomb delivered to the Japanese homeland. Although it was a more powerful device than it's predecessor, targeting variables limited the casualties of the city of Nagasaki to an estimated 45,000 killed. The Japanese Emperor finally got the message, even if his Generals and Admirals did not. The Emperor ordered the Japanese people to surrender. The Second World War was over. The war in the Pacific was won by a combined arms effort of the United States Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and what in 2 more years would become the United States Air Force. For this Veterans Day, give thanks to them all, especially those engaged against today's fanatic barbarians.

The last leg to this "Convergence" stool involves some stories that have appeared recently regarding proposals to split up the Air Force amongst the Army, Navy and Marines. The proponents of this scheme believe that the Major Missions of the Air Force(Long range bombing and air supremacy campaigns) are obsolete. If that is true, then they are ignoring the most important lesson to be learned about military preparedness. The very reason that the Air Force has essentially "run out of missions" is due to their overwhelming capabilities in their era of expertise. Below is a picture of the first intercontinental nuclear bomber ever built by the United States. It's critics claim that it was a waste of money because it never saw active combat and was soon replaced by newly developed jet bombers that made it obsolete. Those who think that we can save money by eliminating the Air Force long range bomber role should contemplate the name given to this huge flying deterrent...

Peace on Earth.