A primary architect of American air power, Curtis Emerson LeMay was born in Columbus in 1906, attended public schools, and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in civil engineering. He received his flight training through the Reserve Officers Training Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1929. Before World War II, he pioneered air routes to Africa and England; during the war he developed tactical and strategic doctrine used in bombing operations in Europe and the South Pacific, often leading his forces in combat. He was promoted to general in 1944. In 1947, following the organization of the U.S.Air Force (USAF), LeMay was appointed commander of USAF Europe, directing operations during the Berlin Airlift at the dawn of the Cold War. (Continued on other side)
(Continued from other side) In 1948 General LeMay assumed command of Strategic Air Command (SAC), one of three new air commands, responsible for conducting offensive combat operations worldwide. Through intensive training and discipline, he built SAC into the most powerful fighting force ever known. The USAF's all-jet nuclear bomber force, supported by professional airmen, characterized America's Cold War posture during the 1950s with its global reach. An innovator as well as a tactician, LeMay introduced aerial refueling and laid the groundwork for an intercontinental ballistic missile force. He became USAF Vice Chief of Staff in 1957 and Chief of Staff in 1961. He retired in 1965, still rated as a command pilot. He died in 1990. General Curtis LeMay was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1972.