Russell E. Hershey,
GRED: And he'd promote you. So he was irrepressible. Now, in fairness to General LeMay, I wanna tell you something. Sitting in my living room one time in a house that General LeMay lived in for almost ten years, General Doolittle and General Acre, the two wartime commanders of 8th Air Force in the UK and two of my lifetime heroes, were looking at a picture I had on the wall over there of General LeMay, the former occupant of that house. And General Acre says 'you know, I think he was probably the best wartime general we ever had' and Doolittle says 'I agree with that.' Both of them commanded General LeMay and had him as a one and two-star in their command and they both agreed that of all the combat commanders the Air Force has had, he was the best. I felt that was a real accolade because General LeMay would say 'that's what you hired me for.'
INT: Last two questions.. In broad terms, how much effort, how much was targeted on taking out the capital cities of Russia.. I'm taking Moscow not as a city but as a.. military target and I'm trying to equate what happened at the end of the war with Japan, Hiroshima, and Moscow, what was the increase in scale towards targeting?
GRED: We never really targeted a city as such. We had many targets, discrete targets inside a city, the effect of which could be to destroy that city by peripheral effects. As our weapons got better, as our accuracy got better we could limit that collateral damage very considerably. But Moscow was a lucrative target because that was the heart of the command and control and anybody that thinks that the command and control is not a part of the military structure doesn't understand the military structure and it had to be taken out. also there's some very hard things there that we had that were very varied and very difficult and they required quite a weight of effort. So I would say that.. you saw Hiroshima with one target, one bomb, one target. You saw Nagasaki with one bomb, one target. Very small, primitive and nothing compared to what would've happened in almost any major city in the Soviet Union that had any sort of concentration of airfields, storage areas, bunkers, command and control networks, ports containment areas things that were targeted and that we were gonna get. See, we knew that if we had to execute our war plan, we had to get the Red Army. We could not let that horde of armed men -- some women maybe -- turned loose on Western Europe. So you had not only to get their military weapons, their nuclear weapons you had to get the Red Army and we were determined to do that.
INT: Last question, sir. What was the worst moment of the Cold War for you?
GRED: Well, I guess I share the same one as a lot of people and that was the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was a colonel, I was not in a command position then, but I was close enough to what was happening to see it at least I made trips back and forth carrying pictures and carrying things to the White House and I watched all the tension and I was close enough to my Chief of Staff and the Joint Chiefs to see the tension. It was real. You know, this was no joke. They were moving mid-range missiles into Cuba and I don't think there's any doubt about the fact they were moving. They may have had some there already. They certainly had the facilities to rapidly introduce them. That was tense. And then one night I saw a ripple launch coming out of the Soviet Union. Our sensors are good and we see occasional test launches all the time, but bang bang bang. We saw three launches come out of three operational missile sites and we knew all the (inaudible) operational missile sites because, you know, our (laugh) our country won't let you do that! We launch only out of Vandenberg, went out to sea. But they launched three out of missile operational missile site and I knew it instantly and I must admit that I got a little queasy. and I ordered alert. I ordered a tightening down of alert we approved the readiness. The missiles final.. impacted short and fell in the Pacific, in and there ..(inaudible).. more to it, but I must admit that I had some quiet moments with reflectivity after the fact. At the time, I was too busy. That's one of the things about a military responsibility. When things are happening that are dangerous, you're so busy you don't think about it till later. Hindsight has great uh lessons and foresight sometimes is wrapped up in doing it and you don't think about it. Um, there's something you didn't ask me but there's something I oughta tell you. That I think the people over the years that man nuclear weapons and man nuclear weapons delivery systems, this world owes 'em a real debt of thanks. They were responsible and they were competent and they never ..(inaudible).. and that's good.
INT: Excellent, thank you very much indeed, sir.
END OF INTERVIEW