While rummaging about in my family photos, relics, and memorabilia, I ran across a folded piece of paper, addressed on the outside thus:
Mrs. Robert D. McHenry
of Lt. Robert D. McHenry
32nd SCU Hq. Comm.
I translate the last line as “32nd Statistical Control Unit, Headquarters Command”
Inside, a printed invitation:
Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay
Requests the honor of your presence
on Wednesday, February fourth
Fourteen hundred hours
The date and day of the week place this in the year 1948, when we were living in Wiesbaden, Germany, and Lieutenant General LeMay was commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
LeMay was already famous for his fierce bombing campaigns against Germany and then Japan, including the firebombing of Tokyo. He would go on to organize and just as fiercely defend the Strategic Air Command during the early years of the Cold War. He looked the part:
So much so that it is generally agreed that Sterling Hayden’s over-the-top portrayal of Gen. Jack D. Ripper in the 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” is a parody of LeMay.
Alas, LeMay destroyed his own reputation with two spectacularly bad decisions. One was to suggest out loud that his strategy in Vietnam would have been to “bomb them back to the Stone Age,” and the other was to sign on as second banana in George Wallace’s 1968 third-party presidential campaign.