Apr. 20, 1963 - General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff, finished a two-week tour of Asia in Japan today. Speaking at a press conference, the cigar-smoking longtime bomber commander found himself questioned intensively on his role in directing B-29 raids on Japan in the final year of World War II. Replying calmly and carefully to Japanese reporters, he confirmed his role both in ordering the great firebomb raid of 1945 on Tokyo — which caused more proved casualties than either atomic bomb raid on Japan — and in commanding the units which dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Pictured below is Tokyo on March 10, 1945). “My duty during the war,” the 56-year-old general stated, “was commanding in the Mariana Islands, and we did conduct operations against Japan.” LeMay said the raids were directed against war-making potential but admitted there had been civilian casualties. He said the U.S. tried to minimize casualties by dropping leaflets ahead of raids. After noting that he had met Japanese veterans of the war during his visit, General LeMay said, “Our experiences in war have made us aware of the horrors of war and have made us more dedicated to preserving peace.” This remark drew applause from Japanese newsmen.
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