W. Burr Bennett, Jr. Collection on the "Enola Gay" Controversy

DSpace/Manakin Repository

W. Burr Bennett, Jr. Collection on the "Enola Gay" Controversy

 

W. Burr Bennett had a life-long interest in the Enola Gay Controversy as a result of his military service. He flew combat missions in B-29’s as a radar operator and combat aerial photographer. He was a member of the 40th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) of the XX Bomber Command in the China/Burma/India (CBI) Theater of Operations as well as Tinian in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps before Pearl Harbor and was discharged in October, 1945.

During his years of service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. After the war, Bennett had a long career in the concrete contractor business in the greater Chicago, Illinois area. During this period, he was a leading member of the Committee for the Restoration and Proper Display of the Enola Gay (CRPDEG). In 1995, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) created an exhibit to feature the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb in the history of warfare on Hiroshima, Japan. The initial exhibit was controversial, with veterans groups claiming that the revisionist historical attitude was omitting the truth behind the reason to drop the atomic bomb and sympathizing too much with the Japanese.

Veterans groups and others became involved in campaigns to display the Enola Gay proudly and have the Smithsonian redesign their exhibit to respectfully display the airplane. Bennett was a part of the community who helped change the NASM exhibit through letter writing campaigns and publishing articles on the subject in local papers and magazines. The original plan was eliminated and a more straightforward historical exhibit of the Enola Gay was put in its place.

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