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Lt. General James Edmundson on: Curtis LeMay
James Edmundson Q: Almost everybody who served under General Curtis LeMay speaks very highly of his leadership quality. Can you comment on that?

JE: He has such a reputation for being an iron-ass, a tough, hard, thoughtless man...If you really knew him, you knew that he was-- inside, he was a real softy. He loved the guys that worked for him and flew for him. He suffered deeply when they didn't come back from missions. And he knew that incompetence is what killed people. And I think that's why he was so completely intolerant of incompetence at any kind, at any level.

Q: Why is General Curtis LeMay so important and significant in this history?

JE: Several things. He was about the only man that had the knowledge of bombardment operation, the leadership ability to put together an organization like SAC [Strategic Air Command] and make it work, and the personal honor and dignity to do it properly, for the good of his country, and to instill the people that worked for him -- instill in them the agreement with what he's doing, the understanding of what he's doing...

He's a very special guy to me. And I was never very-- real close to him. He knew my name; I worked for him; I ran units for him. But I was never an intimate of his. And boy, I sure liked that man. I honored and respected him, and I'd have done anything in the world that he wanted me to do. And he was a kind of a guy who wouldn't ask me to do something that was wrong. It's a good thing. He was a very key man to have in that position at the time, and I know of nobody that had the--this collection of internal integrity and understanding of the weapons and tools that he had to work with.

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