Sir Freddie






Q: You said that you were at the meeting when President Truman said give him all the planes you want. I believe that General Clay was a Republican. What did he think of Truman as a man and the way in which Truman backed him up?

A: He thought the world of Truman. He always believed in Mr Truman sitting there and telling those people to give him all the planes that he wanted in order to keep Berlin. His respect. Now General Clay never did say that he was a Democrat or a Republican and he was an army officer. And course, in due time, he and Eisenhower being so close. And General Clay had so many business friends from his days in the engineering and building dams and so forth. raised the money for Mr Eisenhower.

Q: Right.

A: Well he never - I'm almost certain that his father was a senator, from Georgia. And I believe that he was a Democrat. And General Clay also had great respect and vice versa by Mr Sam Raeburn who was the House Speaker in Washington and at that time.

Q: How did the Germans respond to General Clay? Can you remember any incidents or how they responded to the General at this time? How were they reacting to him and to the...

A: They worshipped him.


Q: How did they react to him?

A: When, he said we were staying in Berlin and we were going to feed the Germans and we were going to keep them warm and so forth. They loved him. And when General Clay died, the German representatives came over here, and they put a little plaque at the end of his grave. The Saviour of Germany. And General Clay saved Germany. And the German people knew that. Mr Ruders and MrAdenauer. Twoof them and there were, of course, others too and I can't think of their names and so forth.

Q: Did he ever say anything, the irony that only three years before American planes were bombing Germany and now they were feeding them? Did he ever comment about that?

A: Never did comment. Never did comment. If you could have seen Berlin at the end of the war, when everything was in rubble and the Germans kept piling up bricks and rebuilding it, and I happened to go back, I don't know, ten years later, I just couldn't believe Berlin had done what they had done to restore buildings and so forth. As a matter of fact I got lost and, I thought I knew Berlin until I took Mr, Senator Vanden - not Vandenberg, Somington. And we ended up in the Russian zone. I thought I knew something about it. But anyway, I think the German people, Mr Ruders, so forth, Mr Adenauer, they all respected the General because they knew what he was trying to do.

Q: Were you aware at the time that this was something very important? I mean what was the atmosphere as those planes kept on coming in and coming in? Were you aware that you were a decisive point of history?

A: Not really. It was in, you know, the Berlin Airlift grew, later on in life, you know. At the time that we were there, we didn't really know that we were making history. All we knew is that in the Potsdam, summit, when they said the American flag should fly in Berlin along with the British and the French, that was it. And Mr Truman is the one that signed the document.

Q: Tell me, what was General Clay's reaction when the Soviets ended the blockade. What happened then?

A: He went home. He felt that his job was finished. And, he wanted to get out of the service. Not that he was mad at anybody, he just thought his job was finished and he wanted do something else. So he told Mrs Clay, Miss Clay, we're going home. And so - and then Mr Raeburn called him up and said General, they're trying to push you out of Berlin? He said no Mr Raeburn, I wanna go home. My job is finished. And that's when Mr Macauley took over from General Clay.


Q: (leader) Tell me something about working for the General, the way in which you did.

A: Well he used to be such a perfectionist, and he wanted everything to be done the way he wanted it. And, you couldn't help buy saying yes sir, but there were times when you'd like to hit him right in his nose. You know, standing up in front of his desk. And I always remembered, Edloe, don't you ever try to second guess me. I said Joe, you're the Commander. You come first, as far as I'm concerned. And then I don't know, I forgot - I've forgotten what then. But he always treated me. And his sons the same. He was tough. He was so earnest, so earnest, he never did anything that was out of order. The correspondents loved him. Wes Gallagher, John Scott., Jack Raymond. They all - and they always could come in to see General in his office or at his home even. He just had the respect of the correspondents. And they're the ones that made his life easy. You know, if you get the press on you, they can kill you. They can kill you.

Q: Whose idea was the airlift?

A: What who?

Q: Whose idea was the airlift?

A: I think, General Clay and Curt LeMay. It wasn't the Pentagon. And it wasn't the State Department. It just grew. And then when Truman says we're staying in Berlin. That was it. He was the President and they didn't come back him and I was trying to think of whether it was General Marshall or Mr Acheson that was the head of the State Department. But that little guy was something. And General Clay grew a lot of respect for President Truman. Lot of respect. And you know, we didn't think he was (laughs) going to be re-elected, and we were amazed, but, cos we couldn't even vote, I don't even remember voting in Berlin, much less. But anyway, it was - I think it just one of those things that grew from 4, 5 C-47s, to planes from all over the world. All over the world. Asia, Alaska. And, you know, when President Truman said give General Clay all the planes he needed in order to keep the Germans in food and coal and so forth. As I look back on it. Truman was a key man at that meeting.

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