70 years later: family takes snapshot of bomber history

Ret. Colonel Joseph Sweeney and his son, Joe Jr., pose for a picture at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Photo by: WDTN/Jake Ryle)

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) — For most visitors to the National Museum of the United States Air Force–seeing the exhibits is as close to history as they can get.

But for one family on Friday morning, they were able to live it, through the eyes of a father and grandfather.

Retired Colonel Joseph Sweeney with the U.S. Air Force was able to live it.

“We wanted to see Papa Charlie’s plane. For the 70th anniversary,” he told 2 NEWS.

A look inside the Bockscar Bomber. (Photo by: WDTN/Jake Ryle)
A look inside the Bockscar Bomber. (Photo by: WDTN/Jake Ryle)

Papa Charlie, the father of Ret. Colonel Sweeney, was the man who piloted Bockscar–the plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

“Marines don’t cry, but sometimes our eyes sweat a little bit. It was emotional,” he said.

Today — he climbed the ladder, but he wasn’t alone.

“I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my son as well.”

His son, Joe Sweeney Jr. was alongside him. And the father and son wanted to carry on a legacy.

“It was surreal,” Sweeney Jr. said.

“To climb up in there, and to sit in the seat you know, sit in the cockpit. I’ve seen a million pictures.”

But there was one picture that caught his focus.

“My grandfather, in the cockpit in 1945. With a cigar in his mouth. So I brought a cigar.”

A picture the Sweeney’s were able to take — in color this time — 7 decades later.

“I know that this aircraft is truly the trigger that caused a watershed in American history,” Dr. Jeff Underwood, Historian for the National Museum of the United States Air Force said.

And it remains a pivotal part of American history.

A piece of history a family can now see through their very eyes.

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