(Left to right) Col. Paul Tibetts, Roy Neal, Lt. Anderson and
the Promotion Manager (unidentified) of the Saturday Evening Post
WPTZ Television Show "Open House"

(Click on the picture to see a larger version)

Broadcast legend Roy Neal hosted several programs while he was working at WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia. He was there from 1947 until 1952. One such program was called "Open House" and aired Wednesday evenings from 7 to 7:30 pm. Part of the discussion was about the Enola Gay's display at the Smithsonian Institution, National Air Museum. (The craft stayed there until 1995.)

One night in 1949, Roy had as his guest, Col. Paul Warfield Tibetts. He was the one who flew the "Enola Gay" airplane and dropped first atomic bomb in the history of the world. The B-29 aircraft was named after his mother (her first and middle names).

Sixty seconds after his plane discharged the deadly payload on August 6, 1945, he realized the significance of the huge, rising mushroom cloud behind the aircraft. "I think this is the end of the war," he said to his fellow crewmen as they flew to home base.

The blast meant the battle-weary Marines would not have to land on hostile Japanese soil. Most U.S. veterans of World War II have agreed that the bombing saved millions of American lives, though it killed an estimated 80,000 Japanese.

American Prisoners of War that were held in Japan, knew they couldn’t live through the next winter because they were so weak. They had also been told they would be killed if Japan was invaded by American forces. These veterans believed that ending the war with the Atomic bomb saved their lives. One POW has told the story that he was digging a grave, his, when the bomb dropped. He was to be executed the next morning. However, the bombing postponed the beheading and his life was spared.

Tibetts was born on February 23, 1915. His parents moved to Florida where, at the age of twelve, Paul had his first ride in an airplane. As part of an advertising gimmick, he tossed Baby Ruth candy bars, with paper parachutes attached, from the air over a crowd gathered at the Hialeah horse track near Miami. In 1966, he retired from the Air Force with the rank of Brig. General.

This photo was taken by Broadcast Pioneers member Preston Stover. Preston was on staff at WPTZ but moonlighted taking pictures of Channel 3 shows and selling them. Mrs. Stover told us that Preston would take the snapshot and then develop it that night in their bathtub. They were saving up to purchase a home and his photography work gave them the money for a down payment. Stover started at WPTZ as a cameraman and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Director/Producer. He stayed with the station until it was traded to NBC. At that time, his family moved to Cleveland and the newly acquired Westinghouse properties there.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Roy Neal
Researched and written by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
© 2000, All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com