On May 21, 1982, four retired U.S. Air Force generals – James Ferguson, Robert M. Lee, William Momyer, and Pete Quesada – sat down at a table in the officers’ club at Bolling Air Force Base outside of Washington and took a hard look at the lessons they and the air service had learned in the course of their careers. Free of the constraints placed on serving general officers, the four have a far more frank discussion as retirees than they would have had while in uniform, and through this pdf book the reader gets to be a fly on the wall.
Each of the men had played a key role in assuring air superiority over Europe. Ferguson commanded a fighter-bomber group in Europe and was air controller for the beaches above the invasion on D-Day. Lee was one of the staff officers who planned the tactical air war in Europe. Momyer was an exemplary pilot and combat leader, who may have been a household name but for his his inexcusable libel of negro (African-American) fighter pilots under his command. And Quesada was without a doubt one of the finest officers the country has ever produced, an innovator and a visionary who put his integrity before his career when he told Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt Vandenberg that the USAF needed to be more than missiles and bombers.
The book is a superb and fast read, oral history at its finest. Most of these four men did not sport household names like Billy Mitchell, Tooey Spaatz, Hap Arnold, or Claire Chennault. Nonetheless, as any student of aerial warfare knows, these men each played a key role in the history of the development of air power doctrine that helped win World War II.
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