Colonel Paul Tibbets waves from the cockpit of the Enola Gay shortly beore departing on the mission to bomb Hiroshima; August 6th, 1945. Tibbets named the aircraft after his mother. Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (February 23, 1915 - November 1, 2007), was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force. Tibbets enlisted in the United States Army in 1937 and qualified as a pilot in 1938. After flying 43 combat missions, he became the assistant for bomber operations on the staff of the Twelfth Air Force. He returned to the United States in February 1943 to help with the development of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. In September 1944, he was appointed the commander of the 509th Composite Group, which would conduct the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war, he participated in the Operation Crossroads nuclear weapon tests at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946, and was involved in the development of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet in the early 1950s. He commanded the 308th Bombardment Wing and 6th Air Division in the late 1950s, and was military attachÌ© in India from 1964 to 1966. After leaving the Air Force in 1966, he worked for Executive Jet Aviation, serving as its president from 1976 until his retirement in 1987. He died in 2007 at the age of 92.