Saturday, October 23, 2010
AS SEEN IN:
"The Missiles Of October"
AS PLAYED BY:
Robert P. Lieb
Curtis Emerson LeMay (November 15, 1906 – October 1, 1990) was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in 1968.
He is credited with designing and implementing an effective, but also controversial, systematic strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific theater of World War II. During the war, he was known for planning and executing a massive bombing campaign against cities in Japan. After the war, he headed the Berlin airlift, then reorganized the Strategic Air Command (SAC) into an effective instrument of nuclear war.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, LeMay clashed again with U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara, arguing that he should be allowed to bomb nuclear missile sites in Cuba. He opposed the naval blockade and, after the end of the crisis, suggested that Cuba be invaded anyway, even after the Russians agreed to withdraw. LeMay called the peaceful resolution of the crisis "the greatest defeat in our history". Unknown to the U.S., the Soviet field commanders in Cuba had been given authority to launch—the only time such authority was delegated by higher command. They had twenty nuclear warheads for medium-range R-12 ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. cities (including Washington) and nine tactical nuclear missiles. If Soviet officers had launched them, many millions of U.S. citizens would have been killed. The ensuing SAC retaliatory thermonuclear strike would have killed roughly one hundred million Soviet citizens, and brought nuclear winter to much of the Northern Hemisphere. Kennedy refused LeMay's requests, however, and the naval blockade was successful.