Enlisted as a flying cadet in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky in 1937. A year later, he got his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas and received a commission as a second lieutenant.
Became the Squadron Commander of the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group in 1942 where he flew 25 missions in B-17s, including the first American Flying Fortress raid against occupied Europe.
Returned to the United States in 1943 to test the combat capability of the B-29. He taught himself to fly the airplane and subsequently flew it for nearly 400 hours in tests.
Assigned to the secret Manhattan Project in 1944. His responsibility was to modify the B-29 and organize and train a unit to deliver these weapons in combat operations.
Piloted the B-29 Enola Gay to Hiroshima and dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on August 5th, 1945. Upon the crew’s return, General Spaatz (enshrined 1967) decorated Tibbets with the Distinguished Service Cross and the other crew members with Air Medals.
Participated in the Bikini Bomb tests in 1946 as a technical advisor.
Served in the Strategic Air Command, a tour with NATO in France, and was responsible for establishing the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon.