Nebraska like the rest of the nation, was stunned to hear about the dropping of the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Germany, of course, had surrendered months earlier. After a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, Nebraskans celebrated V-J Day wholeheartedly on August 15.
On September 18, 1945, the last of 531 Omaha-produced B-29s rolled out of the final assembly hall of the Martin Plant. On April 1, 1946, the Martin Company's last 100 workers left the plant. The bomber plant was used for storage of machine tools from 1946 to 1948. Fort Crook, which was where the Martin Bomber Plant was located, was transferred to the U.S. Air Force and became Offutt Air Force Base in 1948. The Strategic Air Command Headquarters was moved to Offutt that same year.
After her mission, the Enola Gay was returned to the United States in 1946 and stored in Arizona for several years before being flown by Tibbets to Park Ridge, Illinois, a storage site for the Smithsonian Institution. It made its final flight on December 2, 1953, when it was flown to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The Enola Gay was restored and parts of the plane were put on exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum between 1995 and 1998. But the exhibit generated controversy over its mission and the exhibit was closed. Finally, the huge restored plane in its entirety will be displayed at a new Smithsonian facility opening in 2004 outside of Dulles Airport in northern Virginia.
|Click the image for a panorama movie
of the interior of the Enola Gay cockpit.
The Enola Gay on display in Washington DC.
Photo by Carolyn Russo, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (SI Neg. No. 95-4625).
The debate over how the war was won has continued.
"They had their chance. They started it and they had their chance, and even after we dropped the first one, they didn't give up, so we had to
drop the second one. It was a terrible, terrible thing, and it's too bad, but there were a lot of people who got killed in that war. You'd think it would cure everybody of ever starting a war again, but it hasn't."
— Rose Marie Murphy Christensen, Columbus Grade school student.
"We knew that the cost of lives was going to be just unreal, that was the justification for it and that was the justification that we had to take too. It took two bombs to make the Japanese realize what was going to happened to them."
— Mildred Pogue Gardner, Lincoln University of Nebraska student.
"I think we all agreed with him [Truman] that he made the right decision of bombing Hiroshima. If he hadn't ... I'm sure we would have lost an awful lot of men. They claimed that if we went into Japan, we would have lost millions. I know he saved more Americans lives than he cost the Japanese, and he probably saved Japanese lives when it comes right down to it, because they would have lost a lot more lives in the fighting than they lost in that bombing. It's too bad they couldn't have forgot how to make them after that bombing, but on the other hand, maybe the bombs are the things that have kept peace this long."
— Tom Sherman