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Here's why the pilot of Enola Gay had no regrets about dropping the first atom bomb
Early in the morning of August 6, 1945, a U.S. Air Force B29 bomber, the Enola Gay, took off from the its base in Tinian, near Guam, and headed for the city of Hiroshima in southern Japan.
It was carrying a 9,700 top-secret bomb named Little Boy. Its pilot was Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., who led a crew of 12 men on a mission that would change the history of the world.
The plane had been named by Tibbets after his mother.
Hiroshima had already been woken by several air raid sirens that morning, which had proven to be false alarms.
So when Enola Gay approached at 8.15 am, many thought it was a reconnaissance plane. By the time the siren sounded, the first atom bomb had already dropped.
In a blinding flash, and with temperatures as hot as the sun, the bomb detonated. It destroyed a five-mile radius, killing 80,000 people.
Tens of thousands more later died of radiation sickness and injuries.
In this Aug. 6, 1945, photo released by the U.S. Army, a huge cloud resulting from the massive fires started by "Little Boy", the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, is photographed from a reconnaissance plane a few hours after the initial explosion (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/U.S. Army via Associated Press)
The Enola Gay was 10 miles away when the blast went off, but still felt the shockwaves. The crew recalled the jolt from the force of the explosion, and said it was like coming under enemy fire.
Three days later the second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki and Japan surrendered, bringing World War II to an end.
Debate has raged ever since over whether the U.S. was right to launch the attacks. Some have argued that the bombing was an inhumane targeting of civilians, and there were other options available.
But how did the explosion weigh with the 12 men aboard the Enola Gay who dropped the bomb that day?
Then-Col. Paul W. Tibbets (center) with six of the aircraft's crew (three on each side) in an undated photo(U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
Pilot Tibbetts Jr and other crew members believed to the end of their lives that the bomb was necessary — and they say that it ultimately saved lives.
In a 2002 interview, Tibbetts told writer Studs Terkel: "I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we'd be doing that I thought, yes, we're going to kill a lot of people, but by God we're going to save a lot of lives. We won't have to invade [Japan]."
The U.S. military had calculated that an invasion of Japan could have cost millions of U.S. and Japanese lives. So the reasoning goes, the attacks were necessary as an overwhelming show of force to stop the war dragging on further.
As for the loss of civilian lives, Tibbets was unrepentant.
He said: "You're gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we've never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people.
"If the newspapers would just cut out the s--t: 'You've killed so many civilians.' That's their tough luck for being there," he said.
Then-Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.(U.S. Air Force photo)
Some of the members later came to express regret, and were haunted by the destruction they caused.
Captain Theodore van Kirk, the plane's navigator that day, said in a 2005 interview: "I pray no man will have to witness that sight again. Such a terrible waste, such a loss of life.
"We unleashed the first atomic bomb, and I hope there will never be another. I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I'm not sure that we have."
To date, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only places which have been targeted by a nuclear bomb in war.
In recent years though Cold War treaties halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons have begun to unravel, lending fresh urgency to questions on the morality of nuclear conflict.
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Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.