Master of Airpower: General Carl A. Spaatz

By David R. Mets | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

No one will deny that when Carl Spaatz retired in 1948 there still were many problems, including the Berlin Airlift, facing the recently created United States Air Force. He had every right to feel "bone tired," for he had just survived the trials of war and the storms of unification. He was exhausted, in fact, both physically and emotionally.

Not long before, the Yugoslavians had shot down an American C-47, killing its crew. When the bodies were brought home, Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington and Spaatz went together to Arlington Cemetery for the burial. Symington later confessed to feeling stricken by the sight of the widows and orphans, and he wondered at Spaatz's apparent calm as Spaatz watched his men being lowered into the ground. The short ride back to the Pentagon was silent. The pair walked through the halls and came to the secretary's office. Symington finally broke the silence.

"You know something, Tooey," he said. "You are a cold bastard, aren't you?"

Spaatz, not much given to strong language, turned white.

"God damn it!" he replied. "My life has been nothing but one long attendance at the burials of my friends!"1

Spaatz had been looking forward to retirement for a long time, and when the day finally came, he reviewed the options before him. There had been some talk in 1945 of a career as governor of Pennsylvania, but he quickly turned that aside. His friends, Dwight Eisenhower and

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