Tribal Tuesday – Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis “Bomb’s Away “Lemay

By Kenneth Green

Relative Finder Graphic Curtis Lemay
Sorry,  I’m a little late in the day with this article. I usually try to have them posted by ten AM mountain, but today it’s being published in the evening. I choose to write about this guy because one of my favorite movies is Thirteen Day’s which was about the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of the generals portrayed is a distant cousin who at the time was the US Airforce Chief of Staff (hence a member of the Joint Chiefs). I don’t know much about him from real life, but in the movie, he was portrayed as a trouble starter wanting to cause an invasion of Cuba to make up for the Bay of Pigs. I’m talking about General Curtis Lemay

Kevin Conway as General LeMay in Thirteen Days
Kevin Conway as General LeMay in Thirteen Days

Why I Chose LeMay this week.

Someone with a nick name like “Bomb’s Away Lemay” had almost to be as he was portrayed in the movie. As I read the Wikipedia article on him, i think that we needed a leader like him in the United States Airforce in World War Two. But there are many things that I don’t like about this cousin of mine, and I’m grateful the relation is distant.

Was Lemay Racist?

He was on the election ticket for 1968 for the American Independence Party which had a strong segregationalist worldview. Segregation is a product of the times in which they lived, and I understand that. But I also view the idea of Segregation as being utterly racist. In a Segregationalist society, i would not be able to be married to my beautiful wife because she is a white woman. Though I’m not ready to assume that he was a racist, he did agree to be the Vice Presidental Candidate to a Segregationalist party. In later years he was a Republican, and while the GOP freed African’s from slavery, after a particular era it’s identified with racist views. Now I don’t believe all Republicans are racist, but I’m saying they don’t have the best reputation for inclusion right now.

A Decorated Hero

The Real General LeMay
The Real General Curtis LeMay USAF

While he ended as an administrative officer, he got his start in WW2 in a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as a navigator. I respect anyone who has fought a war. Until you serve in a war time, i don’t think you can fully appreciate the respect that they are due. I never went to combat, but I was in the Navy during the War on Terror, so I slightly understand.
As a Commanding Officer, he was serious about training, and it is probably that which saved many of their lives. He was respected by his men as he came up through the officer ranks.
Some of the Military Decorations he earned through his career are as follows.

  • Command Pilot
  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Distinguished Service Medal (2 Oak Clusters)
  • Silver Star
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (2 Oak Clusters)
  • And Many Others!

In Conclusion

I am grateful at the end of the day to be related to him. He has an impeccable career, and while his actions during the Cuban Missle Crisis may not be the most admirable unless you lived it, i’m not sure you can appreciate it. I am grateful for his service. One thing I liked is a leaflet he dropped in Japan which brings to reality a huge part of any Air Force.

“Bomb’s Don’t Have Eyes.” – LeMay Leaflet Dropped in Japan

Last week we had some tips instead of a tribal Tuesday post! Check it out here!
Check my last Tribal Tuesday to win a trip to Tennessee!

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