T Nation

Military Pilots and Suicide

Is there any info about suicide rates regarding military pilots.

One major thing i always heard about whenever I hear people talk about the War in iraq,war in Afghanistan, and the bombings in syria are the deaths of civilians.

I’m pretty sure the military tries their best to limit the deaths of civilians whenever they perform their airstrikes.

But regarding pilots. It must really take a toll on someone knowing that they killed some terrorists but also killed some civilians as well.

I always wondered how the the pilot who flew the enola gay(plane that dropped the nuke over hiroshima). Saw a interview with him YouTube.

Before I watched the video I was wondering if the guy was just really depressed. I mean he dropped a bomb that killed 70,000-126,000 civilians and about 20,000 soldiers. Way more civilians than soldiers.

He just seemed like an average dude. Completely the opposite of what I was expecting.

My grandfather wasn’t a pilot but he was a navigator on a bomber in WW2 and didn’t feel any guilt.

And being a civilian doesn’t mean you are automatically innocent when it comes to what your government does.

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…there are a lot of innocent civilians thought that die

I spent awhile with someone at Walter Reed hospital and if you go, you’ll be awakened. Like really fucking awaken you. Also, I’d make comments about how I feel our military is treated but this isn’t the place.

And whose fault is it? If Germany didn’t want its civilians to get killed then it shouldn’t have allowed Hitler to drag it into war.

Pretty sure I remember reading about Paul Tibbets, and the rest of the crew on the Enola Gay had zero remorse afterwards when asked.


I use to wonder how come there were no videos regarding the Vietnam war. Then I learned about how crazy the war was.

My old history professor mentioned to my class multiple times about his first time home back from the Vietnam war. he got spit on by some random civilian. Because of his participation in the war.

He was just chilling. Literally answered the questions comfortably.

He reminded me of Cotten hill. The father of hank hill from king of the Hill.

I should have mentioned that I just wanted to focus on military pilots and suicide in my post.

Regardless innocent civilians died. A lot of them.

I’m just saying there is a way to look at things from a different angle.

What is an innocent civilian?

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Enola Gay Navigator: “No, I do not have remorse. I pity the people who were there. I always think of it, Brian, as being, the dropping of the atom bomb was an act of war to end a war.” -Dutch Van Kirk

The war on Japan’s home island would have been way worse in terms of casualties on both sides. The strikes saved countless lives. The Japanese civilians would commit suicide as soon as American troops approached. This would have been compounded if we had invaded.

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It may have saved Japan from extinction.

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I respect our armed forces tremendously and they should be treated with the highest level of respect and not be blamed for actions and should be able to receive the care they need.

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The “conventional” air raid on Tokyo a few weeks before the first bomb was dropped killed more civilians than either Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Not to mention that the Japanese Imperial General Staff planned to issue sharpened bamboo sticks to every Japanese civilian. Seriously, sharpened bamboo sticks.

As far as killing innocents shortening one’s life span, just look at these individuals:

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I had never heard the bamboo spikes thing, but I believe it. That would have been brutal.

Troops are being commanded to kill. Are they getting the psychological treatment they deserve.

Imagine a pilot. Told to bomb a certain area that supposedly has some terrorists. Completes his mission. Next day he finds out news of the bombing. Killed two terrorist members and a whole bunch of civilians.

What about the bombings that happen that end up not the news. Because of the high count of civilian deaths.

I was thinking pilots were having suicidal thoughts after they realized they killed a bunch of civilians

No, troops are not getting the proper care, medically or psychologically. There is probably no real way to make troops immune to PTSD unless you changed society to have a different set of values, among other things. We aren’t ancient Romans, Spartans, knights, Vikings, etc., anymore.

Pilots are not going to feel guilty because they are given the information on where to bomb. It’s not his fault if the coordinates he was given included kids. He might feel bad because he isn’t a savage but guilt, no.

Wars like WW2 are fought between nations. It changes what exactly one means by innocent civilian. No one is innocent, or guilty, he is just the enemy.

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Public opinion at that time was to keep building nukes and fire bombs and completely level the island of Japan. They committed Pearl Harbor, the rape of Nanking, the Batan death march etc…

Total war. It hasn’t been a thing since TV coverage in Vietnam.

Go back and watch the Twin Towers come down and tell me that “WE” should feel guilty. From my experience, long range bomber pilots: not usually. If you want to expand to helicopter attack pilots: different story. The closer you get to killing, the more personal it becomes. Dropping a bomb doesn’t quite put you in the same situation as entering a house and shooting someone at 7 feet.

War is about the mission, to kill the enemy. Period. That comes first, what a pilot or war fighter does to complete that mission, that’s the job. Do pilots have problems ?, of course, everyone does who has to kill the enemy. But it’s the mission. You learn to live with it and believe in something bigger than yourself.


Hiroshima was an industrial city. They were targeting non-combatants to begin with.