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Author Topic: did the enola gay men go insane?
lee
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I have been unable to find any information confirming or denying an allegation my 10th grade US history teacher once told me: that all the men on board the Enola Gay who witnessed the first atomic bombing on Hiroshima went insane. Anyone have any info on this?
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Paul (the Mouse) Unwin
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Well, sanity is relative, of course, but at least one crew member, Paul Tibbets, seems to have retained his. See http://www.theenolagay.com/man.html.

Paul "I am become google, the destroyer of ignorance" Unwin

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Ursa Major
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I read a biography about Enola Gay's A-bomb specialist, Deak Parsons, and there was no mention of mental illness before he died of a heart attack in the '50s.
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A Midway Summer Night's Dream
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IMO those stories come from the suicide of Captain Charles B. McVay, the captain of the Indianapolis, the ship which actually delivered the first atomic bomb. On the return trip the ship was sunk with over 1000 survivors. They were stranded one the open water for several days, many drowning or bitten by sharks - initially no rescue was mounted. Because of the top-secret nature of the ship's mission, its non-arrival in port was not noted. When finally rescued only 316 men remained alive.

http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq30-7.htm

Midway

Edit:
I should note his death occured over 20 years after the ship's sinking. More here:
http://216.239.35.100/search?q=cache:4uJ35icMVFcC:waterfront-news.com/print/23p.pdf+Charles++McVay+suicide&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

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irvingr5
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The survivors of the Indianapolis became delusional while in the sea, imagining all sorts of weird things. I wonder if all of them fully recovered? Does anyone have any info on that? Capt. McKay killed himself 23 years later, but there was no indication of any mental problem after his rescue and unjust court-martial. Why did he kill himself? He sat down on a step outside his house and put a gun to his head. I'm sure he had memories that would not go away after that ghastly episode in the sea, but was that the reason? I doubt it, considering 23 years had elapsed. Perhaps his family was gone, he was living by himself, and he became despondent over his future. Anyone has any insight?
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Ghost on Toast
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I heaard that the pilot of the Enola Gay committed suicide, but I could be wrong.

The Indianapolis story makes me so upset. The thing is that many of the men were only half bitten by sharks, so when someone went to shake them awake out of concern, they just kind of bobbed over.

I watched a documentary on that ship and most of the survivors interviewed were perfectly sane but incredibly haunted by it, naturally.

There is a condition known as Survivors Guilt, which has seen many survivors of such tragedies who cannot bear the fact that they were saved when so many died and kill themselves. Very sad.

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Chava
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quote:
I heaard that the pilot of the Enola Gay committed suicide, but I could be wrong.
The pilot of the Enola Gay was the Paul Tibbets mentioned in Paul Unwin's post. The bio he linked to (and other on-line bios of Tibbets) don't even say that he's dead, so I suspect he may still be living.

Chava

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A Midway Summer Night's Dream
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quote:
Originally posted by Chava:
...The bio he linked to (and other on-line bios of Tibbets) don't even say that he's dead, so I suspect he may still be living.

As of 2000 he was still alive. I'm pretty sure it'll be a national story when he dies.

Midway

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Anthony
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A great book about the Indianapolis was "Abandon Ship" which was recently updated.

The loss of the Indianapolis had nothing to do with its mission. The mission was over when she was sunk. The problem was she was sent into an area without an anti-sub screen. There were fragmentary reports of Japanese subs in the area, but the reports were discounted.

The Indianapolis was leaving one naval district and heading into another. While in between, she was not really in either. She also had to keep radio silence. So no one noticed she was missing until the men were in the water several days.

The Captain committed suicide many years later, as he was still receiving hate mail from relatives of the dead. The survivors though, almost to a man, stood by the captain and lobbied for years to reverse his court martial.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by Chava:
quote:
I heaard that the pilot of the Enola Gay committed suicide, but I could be wrong.
The pilot of the Enola Gay was the Paul Tibbets mentioned in Paul Unwin's post. The bio he linked to (and other on-line bios of Tibbets) don't even say that he's dead, so I suspect he may still be living.

Chava

Interesting! My mother told me the same U.L., back in the 1960's! I believed it (why not?) until I saw an interview with Tibbets on tv, some time in the 1980's.

Silas (stories I learned at my mother's knee...and other low joints) Sparkhammer

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Hobgoblin
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Was the Indianapolis thing the story the Captain tells in Jaws was based on? I'm sure I heard somewhere that it was based on a true story.

Cracking film regardless.

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Maddog Bill Out in the Midway Sun
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobgoblin:
Was the Indianapolis thing the story the Captain tells in Jaws was based on? I'm sure I heard somewhere that it was based on a true story.

Your recolection is correct, Jaws actually inspired this kid to start a project looking up living survivors.

Midway "this was not a boating accident" Bill

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Sgt Otter
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I read in the Air Force Times that Tibbets recently gave a speech at a US Air Force museum sometime last month. I believe it was at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

He was sane and lucid enough to be the keynote speaker.

The USS Indianapolis story that Quint tells in Jaws is true. Further tragedy was piled on Capt McVeigh at his kangaroo court trial. The US Navy even dug up the Captain of the Japanese submarine that sank the USS Indianapolis to testify against McVeigh.

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Anthony
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quote:
Originally posted by Sgt Otter:
The USS Indianapolis story that Quint tells in Jaws is true. Further tragedy was piled on Capt McVeigh at his kangaroo court trial. The US Navy even dug up the Captain of the Japanese submarine that sank the USS Indianapolis to testify against McVeigh.

Interestingly, though, the Japanese captain if anything actually assisted the defense. The Navy's case was that the Indy was not "zig zagging." The sub captain said that under the conditions, zig zagging did not matter and he would have sunk the ship no matter what.

Admiral Nimitz did not want the court marshall, but Admiral King (IIRC CNO) did. Capt. McVeigh's father was a retired admiral. Many years earlier, when King was an ensign, McVeigh's father had severally reprimanded him, leading some to conclude King was merely getting revenge.

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apartheidmint
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quote:
Topic: did the enola gay men go insane?
Could we at least call them the enola homosexual men? [Big Grin]
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auditman
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According to the book "ENOLA GAY" by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts. this is the origin of the storu. Claude Weatherly was another member of the 509th Composite group. He was assigned that day to fly STRAIGHT FLUSH. His job was to fly over japan and report weather conditions back to the group. He overflew Hiroshima and reported visibilty was fine and returned to base. After the war Weatherly did not adjust well to civilian life and spent some time in VA mental hospitals. In 1957 his story appeared in newspapers and the headline described him as the leader of the Hiroshima Mission, the body of the story told his true story. The damage was done as ,many other articles repeaded the mis-identifiction. As of 1976 he seems to have straighted out his life and was described as being in retirement.
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