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Home Town Not Specified
Last Address Not Specified
Date of Passing Jun 03, 1995
Location of Interment Fort Logan National Cemetery - Denver, Colorado
Wall/Plot Coordinates Section 8, Site 1106 [unmarked]
Last Known Activity He was the tail gunner on the B-29 Enola Gay for the Hiroshima A-bomb mission.
Other Comments: His Silver Star citation: Awarded for actions during World War II
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Technical Sergeant George R. Caron (ASN: 12143134), United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action while engaged in aerial flight against the Japanese Empire on 6 August 1945. Technical Sergeant Caron was Central Fire Control Gunner for a combat crew of the B-29 aircraft of the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group, TWENTIETH Air Force, which flew from a base in the Marianas Islands to drop on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare. Flying 1500 miles over open water to the coast of Japan, they manned their assigned positions and crossed the island of Shikoku and the Inland Sea. They constantly faced the danger of being hit by anti-aircraft fire, enemy fighters, or suffering mechanical or other failures which would intensify the risks of carrying this powerful missile. Throughout the mission the element of hazard from the unknown prevailed, for this was the first time that this bomb, much more destructive than any other in existence, had been dropped from an airplane. The effect it would have on the airplane and these crew members was only to be estimated. Shortly after 0900 they brought the plane in over the city, and at 0915 the bomb release was pressed. The bomb cleared, and fell toward the planned objective. They then headed from the area and, despite a minor effect from the detonation, returned safely to their home base. By their courage and skillful performance of duty achieved in outstanding fashion despite the dangers involved in accomplishment of this historic mission, these individuals distinguished themselves by extraordinary achievement and reflect great credit on themselves and the Army Air Forces.
General Orders: Headquarters, 20th Air Force, General Orders No. 69 (September 22, 1945)
Wendover AAF, Utah; North Field, Tinian, Mariana Islands
509th Composite Group Details
The 509th Composite Group (509th CG) was a United States Army Air Forces unit created during World War II, and tasked with operational deployment of nuclear weapons. It conducted the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.
In the postwar era, the 509th Composite Group was one of the original ten USAAF bombardment groups assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, the only one equipped with specially-configured B-29 Superfortress capable of delivering atomic bombs. It was standardized as a bombardment group and redesignated the 509th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on 10 July 1946.
Enola Gay is a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named after Enola Gay Tibbets, mother of the pilot, then-Colonel (later Brigadier General) Paul Tibbets. On 6 August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, it became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb on an enemy target in a war. The bomb, code-named "Little Boy", was targeted at the city of Hiroshima, Japan, and caused unprecedented destruction.
The Enola Gay gained additional attention in 1995 when the cockpit and nose section of the aircraft were exhibited during the bombing's 50th anniversary at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution in downtown Washington, D.C. The exhibit was changed due to a controversy over original historical script displayed with the aircraft. Since 2003, the entire restored B-29 has been on display at NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
The Enola Gay (B-29-45-MO, AAF Serial Number 44-86292, Victor number 82) was built by the Glenn L. Martin Company (now Lockheed Martin) at its Bellevue, Nebraska plant, at what is now known as Offutt Air Force Base. Enola Gay was one of 15 B-29s with the "Silverplate" modifications necessary to deliver atomic weapons. These modifications included an extensively modified bomb bay with pneumatic doors, special propellors, modified engines and the deletion of protective armor and gun turrets. Enola Gay was personally selected by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group, on 9 May 1945, while still on the assembly line.
The aircraft was accepted by the USAAF on 18 May 1945 and assigned to the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, 509th Composite Group. Crew B-9 (Captain Robert A. Lewis, aircraft commander) took delivery of the bomber and flew it from Omaha to the 509th's base at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah on 14 June 1945. Thirteen days later, the aircraft left Wendover for Guam, where it received a bomb bay modification and flew to North Field, Tinian on 6 July. It was originally given the Victor (squadron-assigned identification) number "12," but on 1 August, was given the circle R tail markings of the 6th Bomb Group as a security measure and had its Victor changed to "82" to avoid misidentification with actual 6th BG aircraft. During July of that year, after the bomber flew eight training missions and two combat missions to drop pumpkin bombs on industrial targets at Kobe and Nagoya, Enola Gay was used on 31 July on a rehearsal flight for the actual mission. The partially assembled Little Boy combat weapon L-11 was contained inside a 41” x 47” x 138” wood crate weighing 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) that was secured to the deck of the USS Indianapolis. Unlike the six U-235 target discs, which were later flown to Tinian on three separate aircraft arriving 28 and 29 July, the assembled projectile with the nine U-235 rings installed was shipped in a single lead-lined steel container weighing 300 pounds (140 kg) that was securely locked to brackets welded to the deck of Captain Charles McVay’s quarters. ([N 2]) Both the L-11 and projectile were dropped off at Tinian on 26 July 1945.
On 5 August 1945, during preparation for the first atomic mission, pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets who assumed command of the aircraft, named the B-29 aircraft after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets (1893–1983), who had been named for the heroine of a novel ([N 3]). According to Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, regularly assigned aircraft commander Robert Lewis was unhappy to be displaced by Tibbets for this important mission, and became furious when he arrived at the aircraft on the morning of 6 August to see it painted with the now famous nose art. Tibbets himself, interviewed on Tinian later that day by war correspondents, confessed that he was a bit embarrassed at having attached his mother's name to such a fateful mission.
The Hiroshima mission was described by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts in their book, Enola Gay as tactically flawless. Enola Gay returned safely to its base on Tinian to great fanfare. The Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s, Necessary Evil which was used to carry scientific observers, and as a camera plane to photograph the explosion and effects of the bomb and The Great Artiste instrumented for blast measurement.
The first atomic bombing was followed three days later by another B-29 (Bockscar) (piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney) which dropped a second nuclear weapon, "Fat Man", on Nagasaki. In contrast to the Hiroshima mission, the Nagasaki mission has been described as tactically botched, although the mission did meet its objectives. The crew encountered a number of problems in execution, and Bockscar had very little fuel by the time it landed on Okinawa. On that mission, Enola Gay, flown by Crew B-10 (Capt. George Marquardt, aircraft commander, see Necessary Evil for crew details), was the weather reconnaissance aircraft for Kokura.
Enola Gay's crew on 6 August 1945, consisted of 12 men. Only three, Tibbetts, Ferebee, and Parsons, knew the purpose of the mission. Despite being veterans of many bombing raids, the gigantic explosion caused several crewmen to shout in horror and amazement "My God!"
(Asterisks denote regular crewmen of the Enola Gay.)
Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. (1915–2007) – Pilot and Aircraft commander
Captain Robert A. Lewis (1917–1983) – Co-pilot; Enola Gay's assigned aircraft commander*
Major Thomas Ferebee (1918–2000) – Bombardier; replaced regular crewman Donald Orrphin.
Captain Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk (1921–) – Navigator[N 4]
U.S. Navy Captain William S. "Deak" Parsons (1901–1953) – Weaponeer and bomb commander.
Lieutenant Jacob Beser (1921–1992) – Radar countermeasures (also the only man to fly on both of the nuclear bombing aircraft)
Second Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson (1922–2010) – Assistant weaponeer
Technical Sergeant George R. "Bob" Caron (1919–1995) – Tail gunner*
Technical Sergeant Wyatt E. Duzenbury (1913–1992) – Flight engineer*
Sergeant Joe S. Stiborik (1914–1984) – Radar operator*
Sergeant Robert H. Shumard (1920–1967) – Assistant flight engineer*
Private First Class Richard H. Nelson (1925–2003) – VHF radio operator*
B-29, "BOCKSCAR", 44-27297. Dropped "FAT MAN", 9 August 1945, on Nagasaki
Silverplate B-29, "LAGGIN' DRAGON", Serial No. 44-86347, Victor No. 95
Laggin' Dragon was the name of a B-29 Superfortress (B-29 serial 44-86347-50-MO, Victor number 95) configured to carry the atomic bomb in World War II.
Laggin' Dragon was the last of the fifteen Silverplate B-29s delivered to the 509th Composite Group for use in the atomic bomb operation. Built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft plant at Omaha, Nebraska, it was accepted by the USAAF on June 15, 1945, after most of the 509th CG had already left Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, for North Field, Tinian. Assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron, Crew A-2 (Capt. Edward M. Costello, Aircraft Commander) flew it to Wendover in early July and briefly used in training and practice bombing missions.
On July 27, 1945, Costello and his crew flew the airplane from Wendover to Kirtland Army Air Field, Albuquerque, New Mexico, accompanied by another 509th B-29 and one from the Manhattan Project test unit at Wendover (216th AAF Base Unit). There each loaded one of three Fat Man atomic bomb assemblies (without the plutonium core, which had left the day before by courier on one of the 509th CG's C-54 Skymaster transports) in its bomb bay for conveyance to Tinian.
The three bombers flew to Mather Army Air Field, California, on July 28, and took off for Hawaii on July 29. During takeoff from Mather, a panel door on Laggin' Dragon enclosing the life raft compartment opened and ejected the raft, which wrapped around the empennage and impeded the B-29's elevators. The aircraft struggled to stay aloft but the pilots managed to return safely to Mather. After removing and replacing some major tail assemblies, Laggin' Dragon and its cargo continued to Hawaii, finally reaching Tinian on August 2.
It was assigned the square P tail identifier of the 39th Bomb Group as a security measure and given Victor (unit-assigned identification) number 95 to avoid misidentification with actual 39th BG aircraft. The airplane was named while still at Wendover but the nose art was not applied until after the atomic missions. It arrived too late to participate in other combat operations and participated in two practice flights subsequent to the atomic attacks. On August 9, 1945, as part of the second atomic bomb mission, it was flown by another crew as the weather reconnaissance aircraft for the secondary target of Nagasaki.
Laggin' Dragon returned to the United States in November 1945, based with the 509th CG at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico. In June 1946 it was part of the Operation Crossroads task force based on Kwajalein. In June 1949 it was transferred to the 97th Bomb Group at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, and in April 1950 was converted to a TB-29 trainer at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area at Tinker Air Force Base.
It was subsequently assigned to:
10th Radar Calibration Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan (September 1952),
6023rd Radar Evaluation Flight, Yokota AB (March 1954), Johnson Air Base, Japan (July 1956),
6431st Air Base Group, Naha Air Base, Okinawa (July 1958),
51st Air Base Group, Naha AB (July 1960), where it was dropped from inventory and sc
Nagasaki mission crew
Crew B-8 (regularly assigned to Top Secret)
1st Lt. Charles F. McKnight, airplane commander
2nd Lt. Jacob Y. Bontekoe, co-pilot
2nd Lt. Jack Widowsky, navigator
2nd Lt. Franklin H. MacGregor, bombardier
1st Lt. George H. Cohen, flight engineer
Sgt. Lloyd J. Reeder, radio operator
T/Sgt. William F. Orren, radar operator
Sgt. Roderick E. Legg, tail gunner
Cpl. Donald O. Cole, Assistant engineer, scanner
Luke the Spook was the name of a B-29 Superfortress (B-29 serial 44-86346-50-MO, Victor number 94) configured to carry the atomic bomb in World War II.
Luke the Spook was one of the fifteen Silverplate B-29s delivered to the 509th Composite Group for use in the atomic bomb operation and assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron. Built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft plant at Omaha, Nebraska, it was accepted by the USAAF on June 15, 1945, after most of the 509th CG had already left Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, for North Field, Tinian. Assigned to Crew C-12 (Capt. Herman S. Zahn, Aircraft Commander), it was flown to Wendover in early July and briefly used in training and practice bombing missions.
On July 27, 1945, Zahn and his crew flew the airplane from Wendover to Kirtland Army Air Field, Albuquerque, New Mexico, accompanied by another 509th B-29 and one from the Manhattan Project test unit at Wendover (216th Base Unit). There each loaded one of three Fat Man atomic bomb assemblies (without the plutonium core, which had left the day before by courier on one of the 509th CG's C-54 Skymaster transports) in its bomb bay for conveyance to Tinian.
The three bombers flew to Mather Army Air Field, California, on July 28, and took off for Hawaii on July 29, finally reaching Tinian on August 2. It was assigned the square P tail identifier of the 39th Bomb Group as a security measure and given Victor (unit-assigned identification) number 94 to avoid misidentification with actual 39th BG aircraft.
The airplane was not given a name or nose art. It arrived too late to participate in any training, practice, or combat operations. After only a week on Tinian, 44-86346 was reassigned to the group deputy commander, Lt.Col. Thomas J. Classen, and his crew A-5. It left Tinian on August 9, 1945, and returned to Wendover accompanied by the B-29 Jabit III, with the maintenance crews for both airplanes aboard, to await orders to transport components of the third bomb.
The airplane flew to Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, in November 1945, where it rejoined the 509th CG. There its crew gave it the name Luke the Spook. Between April and August 1946 it was part of the Operation Crossroads task force based on Kwajalein.
In June 1949 it was transferred to the 97th Bomb Group at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, and in April 1950 was converted to a TB-29 trainer at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area at Tinker Air Force Base.
It was subsequently assigned to:
10th Radar Calibration Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan (August 1952),
6023rd Radar Evaluation Flight, Yokota AB (March 1954), Johnson Air Base, Japan (May 1957), and Naha AB (November 1958),
6431st Air Base Group, Naha Air Base, Okinawa (December 1959),
51st Air Base Group, Naha AB (July 1960), where it was dropped from inventory and scrapped.