Continuing the legacy: Tibbets takes command of 509th Bomb Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
During a historic ceremony, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV took command of the 509th Bomb Wing here June 5.

Tibbets' grandfather, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., was the pilot of the "Enola Gay," the B-29 Superfortress known for dropping the "Little Boy" atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945.

At the time, the then-colonel was assigned to the 509th Composite Group, a predecessor unit to the 509th BW.

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 the chaplain for the invocation, his family for their support and the men and women of the 509th BW for their hard work during his tenure.

"Stay razor sharp and ready to go," VanHerck said. "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 AFB, 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.

"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, 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, 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 said. "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."