The Wartime Journals Of Charles A. Liondbergh

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What luck it is to find myself opposing my country’s entrance into a war I don’t believe in, when I would so much rather be fighting for my country in a war I do believe in. Here I am stumping the country with pacifists and considering resigning as a colonel in the Army Air Corps, when there is no philosophy I disagree with more than that of the pacifist, and nothing I would rather be doing than flying in the Air Corps. …

[ Lloyd Neck, Lung Island, April 27, 1941 ]

… Have decided to resign. After studying carefully what the President said, I feel it rs the only honorable course to take. If I did not tender my resignation, I would lose something in my own character that means even more to me than my commission in the Air Corps. No one else might know it, but I would. …

[ Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Decembers, 1941 ]

… I find it impossible to keep my mind off the war or to concentrate on writing. How did our Air Force and Navy let the Japanese get to Hawaii so easily? What have the Japanese losses been? And ours? I am not surprised that the Japs attacked. We have been prodding them into war for weeks. They have simply beaten us to the gun. But the radio reports indicate that the attack on Hawaii was a heavy one. Have we sent so many of our planes and so much of our Navy to the Atlantic that the Japs feel they are able to get away with an attack on Pearl Harbor? …

The President spoke at 12:00. Asked for a declaration of war. Senate passed a declaration of war unanimously. Only one “no” in House. What else was there to do? We have been asking for war for months. If the President had asked for a declaration of war before, I think Congress would have turned him down with a big majority. But now we have been attacked, and attacked in home waters. We have brought it on our own shoulders; but I can see nothing to do under these circumstances except to fight. If I had been in Congress, I certainly would have voted for a declaration of war. …

“What luck it is to find myself opposing my country’s entrance into a war I don’t believe in, when I would so much rather be fighting for my country in a war I do believe in.”
[ Washington, B.C., January 12, 1942 ]

… Taxi to Munitions Building. Sentries all around, and a pass necessary to get in. Taken to [Secretary of War Henry L.] Stimson’s office after about a ten-minute wait. Stimson was seated at his desk. Greeted me courteously. …

Stimson said he would speak with complete frankness, that he would be extremely hesitant to put me into any position of command because of the views I had expressed about the war. He said he did not think anyone who had held such views should be in a position of command in this war because he did not believe such a person could carry on the war with sufficient aggressiveness! Stimson said he doubted very much that I had changed my views. I replied that I had not changed them and that I felt it had been a mistake for this country to get into the war, but that now we were in the war my stand was behind my country, as I had always said it would be, and that I wanted to help in whatever way I could be most effective.

Stimson then referred to my speeches and showed that either his memory or his information was very confused in regard to what I had said. He spoke about my advocating an alliance with Germany and about my antagonism to China! I told him I had not advocated an alliance with Germany and that I certainly felt no antagonism to China; but that I had said, and still thought, that the greatest danger to this country lay in Russia and Japan. (In the case of Russia I am thinking of their system rather than of their military danger.) …

I told Secretary Stimson I was extremely sorry that my political viewpoint left him with any doubt as to my loyalty to my country. (Stimson had mentioned the question of loyalty somewhere in our discussion.) He hedged at this, saying it wasn’t exactly a case of doubting loyalty, but that he doubted that with my views I would have the feeling, “the aggressiveness,” for a position of command. I replied that, everything considered, it seemed it would be best for me to turn to the aviation industry and try to make my contribution to the war through some industrial project. …

[ Detroit, September 4, 1942 ]

… Arrived Willow Run at 8:45. Mr. Ford opened the door to my office and walked in about 9:30—no advance notice, as usual. Harry Bennett arrived about ten minutes later. Half hour with them discussing the war, labor problems, etc. Then all to airport, Bennett driving. Looked over turntable for swinging 6-24 compasses. Then picked up [Charles E.] Sorensen, and the four of us drove around the area east of Willow Run airport to select a location for a permanent Army base and consider the possibility of lengthening the runways. Then, Bennett still driving, we went on to the engineering laboratory at Dearborn.