Charles Sweeney Obit

Found this obituary in today’s Seattle Times:

Charles Sweeney, pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb on Nagasaki
MILTON, Mass. – Charles Sweeney, 84, a retired Air Force general who piloted the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki in the final days of World War II, has died.

Mr. Sweeney died Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, hospital spokeswoman Christine Johanson said. She did not disclose the cause of death.

Mr. Sweeney was 25 when he piloted the B-29 bomber that attacked Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and six days before Japan surrendered.

About 70,000 people were killed in the explosion of the bomb, dubbed “Fat Man.” It was the first bomb Mr. Sweeney ever dropped on an enemy target.

He was an outspoken defender of the bombings, appearing on CNN and speaking at colleges and universities.

Mr. Sweeney also wrote a book, “War’s End: An Eyewitness Account of America’s Last Atomic Mission,” to counter what he considered “cockamamie theories” that the bombings were unnecessary.

“I looked upon it as a duty. I just wanted the war to be over, so we could get back home to our loved ones,” he told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy in 1995. “I hope my missions were the last ones of their kind that will ever be flown.”

Mr. Sweeney also played a role in the bombing at Hiroshima, where he flew an instrument plane that accompanied the Enola Gay during the attack.

The Nagasaki bombing run, in Mr. Sweeney’s B-29, the Bock’s Car, was harrowing for the crew. The flight had fuel problems from the start, and clouds and smoke were covering the mission’s primary target, the city of Kokura.

After making several dangerous passes over the city, he abandoned the primary target and flew to Nagasaki. Only a break in the clouds allowed the bomb to be dropped, Mr. Sweeney said.

Mr. Sweeney was a graduate of North Quincy High School who traced his passion for flying to a local airfield. He became a brigadier general in 1956, and at the time was the youngest man in the Air Force to reach that rank. He retired in 1976.

Strange how both Sweeney and Paul Tibbets wrote books to explain how necessary it was for them to bomb two cities into oblivion and to set the record straight against disparagement. They will forever known to history as the men that obliterated Japanese cities with nuclear bombs. All justifications aside, it is a terrible thing to live with the deaths of 70,000 people on your head.