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World War II




Fifteen years ago this month, these 12 men dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima from the B-29 "Enola Gay."  Coronet reporters when to ten states to record this roundup of their feelings about the bomb--then and now.  Here are the men's amazingly vivid, sometimes contradictory, but always candid stories.

The men of the "Enola Gay" were hand-picked experts, chosen for intelligence, emotional stability and discipline, qualities they have put to good use in postwar careers.  Four remained in the service (one died in 1953) and the others are all successful in their business careers.  They earn above-average saleries, all but one are married and they have 26 children among them.  None of them has been to Japan since the war, and few have met since separation.  Dictaphone-recorded interviews provided nearly 250 pages of colorful reminiscence and sober reflection from which the excerpts on the following pages were taken.  After 15 years the scene over Hiroshima is still and sharp and clear to them, and though they disagree on details, they are unanimous on the point of whether they'd do the same things again.  The story begins on Tinian, at 2:30 A.M., August 6, 1945.

CARSON:  They had floodlights set up and guards all around the airplane.  It looked like a Hollywood movie set and they were taking movies and still pictures and talking with Colonel Tibbetts.  I always rode in the tail on take-off.  I remember the Colonel taking every inch of runway.  He was still down and I was beginning to wonder a little bit, but he jumped it off.

BESSER:  We'd been on our feet for many hours and were tired.  As

To be continued