Oral History Interview with
|AIR FORCE TOOK OVER THE AC&W CONTROL CENTER|
|ARMY WAS JEALOUS OF THEIR AUTHORITY|
|STUDY OF THE CAPABILITY OF THE HAWAIIAN AF TO FIGHT|
|RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DEFENSE OF HAWAII|
|NO WAR PLAN FOR HAWAII|
|ROOSEVELT DID NOT KNOW THE JAPS WERE GOING TO ATTACK PEARL HARBOR|
|BATTLE OF MIDWAY|
|FIRST ASSIGNMENT WAS AT CAMP STEPHEN D. LITTLE|
|INTEREST IN FLYING|
|APPLIED FOR PILOT TRAINING AT RANDOLPH AFB|
|ARMY PREJUDICE AGAINST THE AF|
|LIFE IN THE ARMY AT FORT HUACHUCA|
|BEGAN FLYING TRAINING IN 1935|
|FLYING INSTRUCTION AT RANDOLPH AFB|
|WENT INTO PURSUIT FLYING|
|TRANSFERRED TO PANAMA CANAL ZONE|
|DEFENSE PLANS OF PANAMA CANAL ZONE|
|NAVY EXERCISE IN PANAMA CANAL ZONE|
|HE WENT FROM POLLIWOG TO SHELLBACK|
|ASSIGNED TO BARKSDALE AFB, 20TH PURSUIT GROUP|
|DEPRESSION YEARS IN THE MILITARY|
|BALLOONISTS WENT TO HEAVIER THAN AIR|
|WAS AIDE TO GEN FRED MARTIN|
|GHQ HEADQUARTERS AND OFFICE OF AIR CORPS CONFLICT|
|ARMY EXERCISES AT FORT POLK, LA|
|SET UP AN EXERCISE FOR RESERVISTS|
|INACTIVE RESERVISTS FLEW OUT OF BARKSDALE AFB|
|GEN FRED MARTIN|
|AEROBATIC SHOW AT MARCH AFB|
|OBTAINED A B-18 FOR THE COMMAND AIRPLANE|
|COL HARRY OCKER DEVELOPED INSTRUMENT FLYING|
|OLDTIMERS IN THE AIR CORPS|
|AIR CORPS TACTICAL SCHOOL|
|BETTER PART OF AIR CORPS BUDGET WENT TO THE B-17|
|GEN HOWARD DAVIDSON BROUGHT THE B-15 TO BARKSDALE AFB|
|WENT TO HAWAII AS GENERAL MARTIN'S AIDE AND OPERATIONS|
|HE HAD NO THOUGHTS OF WAR IN 1939|
|GEN H. H. ARNOLD|
|MURRAY GREEN ASSISTED HIM ON THE STUDY OF THE SALEM WITCH HUNTS|
|HAWAIIAN AF INVENTORY WHEN JAPS ATTACKED|
|RELATIONS WITH THE ARMY AND NAVY|
|PERSONNEL STATIONED IN HAWAII|
|AIR CORPS HAD IDENTIFIED ITS MISSION IN HAWAII|
|FIRST RADAR IN HAWAII|
|ARMY REFUSED TO DISPERSE THE AIRCRAFT|
|INDICATIONS OF TROUBLE IN LATE 1940|
|B-I7 VERSUS B-24|
|ESTABLISHMENT OF HAWAIIAN AF|
|HE KNEW THERE WAS THE POSSIBILITY OF WAR IN THE PACIFIC|
|JAPANESE AIRCRAFT AND CARRIERS|
|DUTIES AS GENERAL MARTIN'S AIDE|
|B-17S LOST AT CLARK FIELD|
|EVENTS OF 7 DECEMBER 1941|
|ARMY COULD NOT BELIEVE IN AIRPOWER|
|THE AFTERMATH OF THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR|
|TREATMENT OF JAPANESE POPULATION AFTER THE ATTACK|
|THE DEPENDENTS WERE SENT BACK TO THE STATES|
|EFFECTIVE USE OF INTELLIGENCE|
|GENERAL MARTIN RELEASED HIM TO JOIN THE VIII FIGHTER COMMAND|
|TRANSFERRED TO EIGHTH AIR FORCE|
|HE SET UP THE EARLY WARNING PLOTTING OUTFIT IN HAWAII|
|REPORTED TO GENERAL SPAATZ IN WASHINGTON|
|PREPARATION FOR OVERWATER FLIGHT OF B-17s AND P-38s|
|FLIGHT TO ENGLAND|
|P-38s ARE STILL FROZEN IN ICECAP|
|COL BERNT BALCHEN|
|VIII FIGHTER COMMAND ORGANIZATION|
|WENT TO NORTH AFRICA ON TDY|
|USE OF TACTICAL AIR FORCES|
|GETTING INFORMATION GAINED BACK TO THE STATES|
|EVALUATION OF PREPAREDNESS OF AAC FOR WWII|
|HE DID A STUDY ON AIR DEFENSE IN NORTH AFRICA|
|GEN GEORGE PATTON|
|OPERATIONS OFFICER FOR VIII FIGHTER COMMAND|
|COORDINATION WITH THE BRITISH|
|SPITFIRES VERSUS P-47s|
|UTILIZATION OF FIGHTER AIRCRAFT|
|P-51 HAD BUILT IN TANKS|
|AF PROTECTED GROUND TROOPS|
|ESCORT AIRCRAFT FLEW AT 15,000 FEET|
|EVALUATION OF GERMAN STRATEGY|
|OXYGEN MASK DEFECTS|
|COL HUB ZEMKE COMMANDED THE 56TH FIGHTER GROUP|
|QUALITY OF PILOTS|
|OLDTIMERS IN EUROPE|
|WORKED FOR GENERAL DOOLITTLE|
|LACK OF MORAL FIBER COMMITTEE|
|APPRECIATION OF GERMAN AIRCRAFT|
|FIRST GERMAN JET|
|GEN JOHANNES STEINHOFF|
|ASSIGNED TO AIR STAFF AT SHAEF|
|DEPUTY COMMANDER, 93D COMBAT BOMB WING|
|HIS APPRECIATION OF AF LEADERSHIP IN EUROPE DURING WWII|
|GENERALS SPAATZ AND DOOLITTLE|
|BOMBING WITH RADAR|
|BOMBING OF DRESDEN IN APRIL 1945|
|GEN IRA EAKER'S ASSIGNMENT TO THE MEDITERRANEAN|
|METHOD OF REPORTING KILLS|
|SERVICE AWARDS DURING WORLD WAR II|
|TACTICS AND METHODS OF FLYING|
|100TH BOMB GROUP|
|END OF WAR IN EUROPE|
|ORDERED TO AIR STAFF SHAEF|
|DUTIES AT SHAEF|
|US STRATEGIC BOMBING SURVEY|
|CONDITIONS IN GERMANY|
|RETURNED TO THE STATES|
|ASSIGNED TO THE STAFF AT THE NATIONAL WAR COLLEGE|
|ASSIGNED TO GENERAL SPAATZ' OFFICE, HQ AAF|
|GENERAL KEPNER REPLACED GENERAL HUNTER IN EUROPE, WWII|
|ALLIES HAD TOTAL AIR SUPERIORITY OVER FRANCE|
|OBTAINED THE AERIAL CAMERA BEFORE THE NORMANDY INVASION|
|DUTIES AS AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER TO THE CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMY AIR FORCE|
|AF BECAME A SEPARATE SERVICE|
|CHAIN OF COMMAND|
|ORGANIZATION OF HQ USAF|
|DUPLICATION OF SERVICES|
|GEN BENNETT MEYERS|
|UNIFICATION OF SERVICES IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DOD|
|70 GROUP PROGRAM|
|DOD ACCESS TO THE PRESIDENT|
|OFFENSIVE AGAINST GERMANY A COMBINED AIR OFFENSIVE|
|HIS DEFINITION OF LEADERSHIP|
|GEN IRA EAKER|
|PROFESSIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION|
|SPAATZ INFLUENCED CHOICE OF HIS SUCCESSOR|
|ASSIGNED AS AF AIDE TO THE PRESIDENT|
|GEN "ROSIE" O' DONNELL|
|GEN HARRY VAUGHN|
|AF WAS IN FLUX IN LATE 1940s|
|CLOSE AIR SUPPORT IN WWII|
|COMMUNICATIONS DURING WWII|
|BATTLE OF THE BULGE|
|NO DOUBTS ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF WWII|
|ACCOMPANIED PRESIDENT TRUMAN ON TRIPS|
|ARRANGED PRESIDENT TRUMAN'S MEETING ON WAKE ISLAND WITH GENERAL MACARTHUR|
|ASPHALT VERSUS CEMENT RUNWAY CONTROVERSY|
|AIR FORCE ONE COMMANDER|
|KEPT THE PRESIDENT CURRENT ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH AIRCRAFT|
|THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH GENERAL MACARTHUR|
|MACARTHUR WAS RELIEVED OF HIS COMMAND|
|THE PRESIDENT'S REASON FOR MEETING WITH MACARTHUR|
|RELUCTANCE OF AF TO REASSIGN HIM|
|ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON TRUMAN'S LIFE|
|DESEGREGATION OF ARMED FORCES|
|TRUMAN DECIDED NOT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT AGAIN|
|PRESIDENTS TRUMAN AND EISENHOWER|
|SECRETARY LOUIS JOHNSON|
|OTHER MATTERS WHICH CONCERNED THE PRESIDENT|
|ROLES AND MISSIONS|
|ACTIVITIES HE WAS INVOLVED IN AS AIDE TO THE PRESIDENT|
|REORGANIZATION OF DOD|
|TRUMAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF|
|NO INFIGHTING AMONG PRESIDENT TRUMAN'S STAFF|
|COORDINATION BETWEEN THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND DOD|
|RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESS|
|EARLY DAYS OF SAC|
|ESTABLISHMENT OF AFA|
|TRUMAN WAS AWARE OF WAR PLANS|
|TRUMAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS STAFF|
|TRUMAN LIVED IN THE BLAIR HOUSE FOR 3 YEARS|
|ASSIGNED AS DEPUTY COMMANDER, SECOND AF|
|DUTIES AS DEPUTY COMMANDER, SECOND AF|
|GENERAL POWER CALLED THE DEPUTY COMMANDERS TO SAC HQ|
|SPOT PROMOTIONS IN SAC|
|ENLISTMENT RATE IN SAC|
|TRANSFERRED TO FOURTH AF|
|STATUS OF AF RESERVE AND NATIONAL GUARD IN FOURTH AF|
|FOURTH AF COMMANDER WAS A PR JOB|
|PROBLEMS WITH RESERVE ASSIGNMENTS|
|TRANSFERRED TO DCS/PERSONNEL, HQ USAF|
|GENERAL PROMOTION BOARDS|
|INFLATION OF OERS|
|WHITE CHARGER PROGRAM|
|SAC PERSONNEL WENT TO CHIEF OF STAFF LEMAY|
|DID NOT USE CONSULTING FIRMS IN PERSONNEL|
|LEMAY MOVED PERSONNEL TO RANDOLPH AFB|
|AF WAS "SACOMCIZED"|
|PUBLIC LAW 616|
|ASSIGNED TO MCCLELLAN AFB|
|RETIREES WORKING FOR AF CONTRACTORS|
|DID NOT UTILIZE COMMAND HISTORIES|
|WORST ASSIGNMENT IN HIS AF CAREER|
Oral History Interview #K239.0512-1372
1-2 March 1983
Taped Interview with Maj Gen Robert B. Landry
Conducted by Mr. Hugh A. Ahmann
Transcribed and Edited by Mary E. Monday
(Interview begins with Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941)
AHMANN: Have you read this recent book, At Dawn We Slept, by Prange
LANDRY: Yes. I have it up in the library here.
AHMANN: That is a massive account.
LANDRY: That was done by a lieutenant commander in the Navy who continued in the Navy and had very good assignments. Afterwards I think he retired from the State Department or someplace. He continued to pursue this. I'm still reading the bibliography. (laughter) And I was there.
AHMANN: Has anybody ever come to talk to you about Pearl Harbor at all?
LANDRY: No. Just some friends of mine who were over there.
AHMANN: Did you know Kermit Tyler [Lt. Col. Kermit A.] over there when you were there? He was that man who was at the plotting board on 7 December, that morning. He was at the control center, the AC&W [air control and warning) control center.
LANDRY: I probably have met him because Fort Shafter had the responsibility of setting up that plotting board. The Army was so goddamn jealous of the Air Force all the time that, Christ, they wanted to do everything. They set the goddamn various degrees of alertness. We fought them on that and lost, and we lost the whole goddamn air force out there because we lined them up wingtip to wingtip. They wanted to run the plotting board and was slow in getting it started. Of course we were not getting the equipment anyway. But we had nothing to do with it except as they might ask somebody something when they wanted to.
I'll guarantee you, after the attack came, we took it over right away, and the Hawaiian Fighter Command was set up. As a matter of fact, I became the executive officer, first to "Monk" Hunter [Maj Gen Frank O'D.] who was flown over and then replaced by Howard Davidson [Maj Gen Howard C.], who knew nothing about fighters. It was my responsibility to get that plotting center going. We got it going, and of course, we got materiel from the States. We got all the volunteer ladies there whose husbands were out fighting the war and people living there. We had a hell of a good plotting center eventually.
AHMANN: Where did the idea germinate for that plotting center? When did that originally get set up? Do you remember that? Or was that going when you got there?
LANDRY: Like I say--oh, no, it was not going when we got there. They had nothing like that. As a matter of fact, I got there in November 1940. There wasn't anything like it; there wasn't any feeling of a great threat although the Japanese were acting kind of funny even in those days, but no threat
of immediate attack. I would say that probably the priority for the equipment available, considering expenses, costs, and budgets, I guess Hawaii was pretty low on the totem pole. But eventually, I think as the situation began to deteriorate, the Japanese Fleet was sailing all around the Pacific; the possibility of an attack was always there, but it seemed so far away that a lot of people thought it would be other places first.
AHMANN: It was that remote.
LANDRY: It was that remote. So we did get the station up there on the northwest point of the Island of Oahu that detected the airplanes coming in, picked up the B-17s that were coming in and the others. They thought they were all the same thing. That was going, and the information was not even--well, it was probably telephoned to Shafter. Somebody took it, but they didn't know what to do with it. It was Sunday morning. There was no procedure; there was nothing written. We had not a goddamn thing to do with it. The Army was running it.
AHMANN: What was the Army, ostensibly, supposed to do with the information, alert the Air Force?
LANDRY: Eventually, I suppose they would have gotten an operational procedure going and alerted somebody. I was assistant A-3 in addition to being aide to General Martin [Maj Gen Frederick L.] and we didn't have any information about anything up there. We knew people were up there.
But it wasn't piped to the Air Force; it was piped to Fort Shafter to Mr. Short's [Maj Gen Walter C.] outfit. Those b-----ds were so jealous of their goddamn authority and
prerogatives that it was always a fight with them. As a matter of fact, General Martin ordered us to make a study--Art Meehan [Col Arthur W. ] who was the A-3, and I--of the capability of the Hawaiian Air Force to fight. We had the B-18s which had a range of action of a very small bomb load of about 225-250 miles. We had a bunch of fighters up at Wheeler (AFB HI) and that sort of thing, but we had no warning business.
The Air Force could never go direct to our own Air Force Headquarters at Langley--General Andrews [Lt Gen Frank M.] in those days. Well, in a sense you could, because our efficiency reports went through there and all that, administratively. But if you got into policy, and you got into budget; you got into equipment, and you got into control, if you got outside the Army lines, I want to tell you, you got fired or court-martialed or both.
It wasn't easy. General Martin was dealing with some of our people I suppose. I know he was. We wanted to get a study to show that the equipment we had was inadequate for the defense of the island, for the air defense, for the air support and defense. So we made this study. We worked on it for 90 days. They gave us 90 days to do it, Art Meehan and I, and I did a great portion of it. All we did was plot possible routes out from the island 225-250 miles. Well, Jesus, a carrier could stay outside of 350 and launch, and you would never know it. Then they could come in and recover, and we would just be flying around out there boring holes in the sky.
It was that straightforward. We just said it. We said, "It is absolutely impossible. We have to have the equipment out
here. The Navy is patrolling and is supposed to give us early warning with the old PBY boats." So there was no great deal of priority put on Hawaii by the bigshots in Washington. All this foolishness about messages being received and transmitted or not transmitted, it was a mess. Who is responsible? I really don't know. I don't think Mr. Roosevelt [President Franklin D.] had anything to do with trying to start the war.
AHMANN: The responsibility for the defense of Hawaii had to be with Kimmel [Adm. Husband E.] , Short, Martin, and Kimmel.
LANDRY: If you want to do it that way, but you have to remember that in those days we had a thing called unification. Even though the Air Force was not a service--it was the Army Air Force--we had the only goddamn air force that was land based anyway, except for the carriers.
We had unification, and under the unification act--I think Forrestal [James V.] was in those days--the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines were all supposed to get along. You were not supposed to use your position of superior rank and all that if you sat, say, at the council table.
Well, you know that old dog won't hunt, because you take a four-star admiral, who has the overall responsibility for the Pacific, who is sitting at the table with a three-star Army man, who has the responsibility for the land based thing, and a two-star guy, who is not responsible to Short and then to Kimmel and can't talk to his own War Department in Washington, well, you can see how silly unification was. It was just an awful phase, in my opinion, during my experience, to see some effort to get people to work together without
having the proper setup to do it, the controls, the law, the authority.
AHMANN: At the time you went to Hawaii, it was obvious that there was no plan--I mean, was it pretty vague?
LANDRY: There was a War Department plan that the Navy would offshore patrol; we would build up the bomber force with the B-18, which was all we had then. The B-17 was not really in production. There were a few coming along. And the P-40s that we had and the fighters. So you build up your local war plans based on the equipment you had. I just got a feel that Hawaii was not a very high priority target. It wasn't close enough to Japan. That's my opinion.
Sure, we had a war plan, but I think all of us felt that, Christ, what we got--nobody anticipated a surprise attack. You have to admit that the Japanese did a beautiful job, and they handled it beautifully and executed it beautifully and did a great deal of damage. I think even had we known we might have made it a lot more difficult for them, but coming in with the force they had and the equipment we had, I don't think the B-18s could have done much. They couldn't have gotten out there, for Christ's sake. I mean, they just didn't have the radius of action.
We couldn't send them out there and have them all drop in the ocean coming back. So like we had the limit of armed endurance with the fighters over in the Eighth Air Force later, which I was in, a limit of armed endurance was the radius of action. The bombers wanted to go in further and get the hell shot out of them, which they did a few times like at Schweinfurt and Regensburg, and lose 50 to 60
bombers. They didn't keep doing that. They waited for their little friends. You had better believe it.
AHMANN: The reason I asked if anybody had ever talked to you is that I have read books where this Kermit Tyler--he retired out of the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in the 1950s or 1960s--is quoted in books, actual words he said and things he did. I went to interview him one time, and I missed him. But I talked to him on the telephone. I said, "Did Walter Lord ever talk to you?" He said, "No, nobody has ever talked to me." Here, they were putting words in his mouth and everything. So that was one reason I asked you.
LANDRY: I don't even remember seeing that name. I think I read most of the books.
AHMANN: Yes, he would be mentioned in all those books.
LANDRY: It may be in there. That, in my opinion, is the best book ever put out. I don't think it is prejudicial at all. He just calls the facts. As I say, I haven't even gotten to the book yet. I'm reading the bibliography. I have several others.
AHMANN: Another book by Toland, Infamy, I just read that recently as a matter of fact. He tries to build a case that Roosevelt knew full well that----
LANDRY: I'll tell you one thing. Anybody who takes that position is either stupid or prejudice or crazy.
AHMANN: You are totally convinced in your mind----
LANDRY: No way in the world is the President of the United States going to do anything like that. Jesus, all you have to do is read this book, and you will find out the problem the President had, A Man Called Intrepid. That is not a history, but it is 95 percent true. It wasn't written until after the information could be verified at, what is the place in Washington? 25 years.
AHMANN: The National Archives.
LANDRY: Now if you think that Mr. Roosevelt was going to accept an attack like that and be in danger of losing the whole fleet, and if you consider the battleships, anything--you know, what Mitchell (Maj Gen William) had shown them would happen to them--well, then goddamn it, they sunk the Navy, just about. Just lucky that the Saratoga and Lexington were out at sea.
AHMANN: These same people who wrote this At Dawn We Slept have now written a book that has just come out abou