General Curtis LeMay

In General Chuck Yeager’s words: “The Chief of Staff was General Curtis LeMay, probably the most controversial personality in the Air Force since his days as the tough, cigar-chewing head of SAC.

curtis lemay

National Museum of the USAF

“I knew him pretty well. I remember briefing him at SAC headquarters after I had tested the MiG 15 on Okinawa, and he was very interested in the MiG’s directional instability while climbing: “Yeager how bad is that snaking motion?” he asked. I t old him: “Well, sir, just about right to hit a B-36 wingtip to wingtip if you were shooting at him.” My answer really tickled him, and he told it all around. And during my tour in Germany, he sent for me while I was in Spain, to show me off a little during a hunting trip with Franco. General LeMay wasn’t what I would call a smoothie. He was blunt, you didn’t have to read between the lines dealing with him.

When we had trouble when the White House wanted a specific, yet unqualified, pilot to attend ARPS, Gen LeMay asked me to keep him informed. In DC, at a banquet, he asked me how that pilot was doing. I told him we were having trouble helping him not get so far behind, it’d be useless. He looked me straight in the eye, “If you have to wash him out, I’ll back you all the way.” I about fell out of my chair.”

Article on General Curtis LeMay from Business Insider Jan 22, 2016:

“I’ll tell you what war is about. You’ve got to kill people and when you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” – Curtis LeMay

LeMay was the youngest four-star general in American military history. He served with four stars longer than anyone ever had — a big deal for a general who didn’t go to a service academy. He earned the nickname “Iron Ass” for his stubbornness and shortness once his mind was made up. When he did speak, the stout, cigar-chomping, stone-faced general had a reputation for his outspoken manner.

LeMay led the US military through some of its most trying times.”