Brig. Gen. Tibbets attended UF in 1930s


Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 7:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 7:55 p.m.

Though he was most well-known for piloting the Enola Gay as it dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" over Hiroshima during World War II, Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets has a lesser known connection to Gainesville in that he attended the University of Florida for a couple of years in the 1930s in preparation to go to medical school in Ohio.

Tibbets died Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92.

"After five years of iron-fisted discipline in military school, college provided a freedom that I found difficult to handle," Tibbets wrote in his autobiography, "Flight of the Enola Gay," regarding his enrollment at UF in 1933.

While enrolled at UF, Tibbets was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Stefan Gleason, president of the Epsilon Zeta Home Association of Sigma Nu, said Tibbets was a leader in the fraternity and also participated in the ROTC program at UF.

"Sigma Nu Fraternity mourns the passing of brother Tibbets," Gleason said in an e-mail. "During the difficult mission over Hiroshima, as well as throughout his career, he set a tremendous example of personal courage, honor and duty to one's country. He was much admired by Sigma NUs everywhere."

In his autobiography, Tibbets said he spent only two years in Gainesville because his family had dreams of him becoming a doctor, and UF did not have a medical school at that time. So after his sophomore year he transferred to the University of Cincinnati in preparation to attend that school's

medical program.

But while he was here, Tibbets' love of flying was already solidifying, and he wrote that "whenever I had a few dollars to spare I spent them on flying lessons" at the Gainesville airport.

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