Saturday, May 02, 2009

A repost: The plight of the Enola Gay Hangar at Wendover

We don't usually do this, but this week's news that the Enola Gay hangar at Wendover has been placed on the list of endangered landmarks prompts us to reprint a post from August 2007:

This morning's Trib had a nice feature on Wendover, Utah. A couple of lines from the article struck a memory:
WENDOVER - The first atomic bomb. The world land-speed record. Wendover Will.
. . .
Toward war's end, Col. Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay trained in Wendover to drop the first atomic bombs - dubbed Little Boy and Fat Man - on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along with Smith, Tibbets is an icon in Wendover.
The crew didn't just train in Wendover. The Enola Gay mission actually launched from Wendover. On June 14, 1945, the newly manufactured B-29 was ferried from Nebraska to the army base there. On June 27, 1945, it took off from Wendover for the South Pacific. After stops at Guam and the Marianas Islands, the aircraft carried out its historic mission on August 6 and 9, 1945, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered a month later.

The memory? Driving around on a quest for Mildred's, a restaurant on the Utah side that makes its own veggie burgers, noticing a historic marker, stopping to read it, and exclaiming, "THE Enola Gay?" The most important military mission in U. S. history was launched from Utah?

One reason it was hard to believe: This is what the hangar that housed the Enola Gay looks like now.


Granted, the Enola Gay's mission remains controversial. Co-pilot Robert Lewis himself wrote, "My God, what have we done?" Nonetheless, this mission has enormous military and historical significance. The hangar from which it was launched shouldn't look as though it has been condemned. To Utah legislators, we say: Next time you have an extra, say, $36,000 or so to spend, how about shifting some of it toward the long-envisioned restoration project out at Wendover. In the meantime, the project accepts donations via PayPal to the e-mail address support(at)wendoverairbase.com.

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