by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
6/5/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- During
a historical ceremony June 5, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV took
command of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
Tibbets' grandfather, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., was the pilot of
"Enola Gay," the B-29 Superfortress known for dropping the "Little Boy"
atomic bomb Aug. 6, 1945, on Hiroshima, Japan.
At the time, the then-colonel was assigned to the 509th Composite Group, a predecessor unit to the 509th Bomb Wing.
Now, his grandson is in command of the world's only fleet of B-2 Spirits
and the 5,500 Airmen who make the stealth bomber mission possible.
The outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Glen VanHerck, is headed to be the
Air Force Global Strike Command director of operations at Barksdale Air
Force Base, Louisiana.
During his final farewell, VanHerck focused his speech on thanking those
in attendance: the chaplain for the invocation, his family for their
support and finally, the men and women of the 509th for their hard work
during his tenure.
"Stay razor sharp and ready to go," said VanHerck in the final farewell
to his Airmen. "It's a matter of when, not if, you will be called upon
again. Keep leading and own it every day."
Tibbets is coming from an assignment as the deputy director for nuclear
operations, Global Operations Directorate, U.S. Strategic Command at
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. He has been stationed at Whiteman twice
before in multiple roles including a B-2 pilot, deputy chief of wing
standardization and evaluation, director of operations, and commander of
the 393rd Bomb Squadron.
Like VanHerck, Tibbets' speech focused largely on thanking people: the
Lord for making all things possible, the state and federal officials for
their attendance and finally, the men and women of Whiteman.
"Thank you for the time, energy, passion and devotion you have dedicated
to welcoming my family to Whiteman for the third time," said Tibbets,
who in past interviews has credited his father with helping inspire him
to join the Air Force.
Tibbets said he hopes for three things from the base's Airmen: that they
take care of themselves, that they take care of their families and to
be excellent in their duties.
"If my grandfather was here today, he would tell all of you how proud he
is of the great things you do for our nation," he added. "Each one of
you is a source of power for the mission - you make it happen each and
every day. I will serve with passion, humility, courage and respect
every day, and I ask the same of you."