|Some of most famous USAF generals, aces were assigned to Westover
|General Gillem was 57th AD
commander from September
1961 to June 1963 and
commanded 8th Air Force as a
lieutenant general from April to
General LeMay flew record-setting KC-135 flight from base
History buffs often mention Gen. Curtis LeMay
and Westover in the same sentence, because he
was not only assigned here during World War II,
he had direct involvement in the base's dramatic
enlargement in 1955 into a huge Strategic Air
Command (SAC) installation.
The famous Air Force leader, who quickly rose
through the ranks to four stars and command
SAC -- one of the most powerful military
organizations in the world -- was assigned to
Westover as a lieutenant colonel in 1941. He
and his wife, Janie, lived in nearby Holyoke,
Mass. LeMay's commute took him to the original
James Street Gate. He then made his way to his
office housed in one of the few remaining
buildings standing today from the original base.
Bldg. 1100 today is home to the base chapel, the
Pioneer Valley USO, and Airmen and Family
He shipped out of Massachusetts for duty in
World War II in early 1942.
After the war, LeMay took command of SAC,
and during his tenure as commander-in-chief,
oversaw a sprawling expansion of its forces
which put Westover at the center stage of the
Cold War. In April 1955, SAC took over
operations at Westover. By late 1957, the footprint
of General LeMay was everywhere. An armada of
more than 100 B-52s and KC-135 and KC-97
tankers crowded the enormous flight line.
In late 1957, he returned to his former home to
demonstrate the speed and range of the
then-brand-new KC-135 Stratotanker. On Nov. 9,
he led a record-breaking flight that departed
Westover for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The general, whose role in World War II had
already put him in the history books, flew the
tanker 6,322 miles nonstop. He stepped off the
jet in Argentina to the clicks and flash of news
He left his post as SAC commander in 1957
and became the Air Force vice chief of staff. In
1961, President Kennedy appointed him as the
Air Force chief of staff. General May retired in
Gen. Curtis E. LeMay is shown at his desk in
this Air Force photo, taken circa 1956.
General LeMay later become Air Force
vice chief of staff, then chief of staff, in 1960.
|BRIG. GEN. ALVAN
C. GILLEM II
|Photos provided by the late
Chris Miano, who worked in the
57th AD as a secretary under
Brig. Gen. Donald W. Saunders,
who was killed in a KC-135
crash near Westover in June
1958. Other information on
these generals came from the
Air Force Historical Research
Division's web site.
|General Meyer became
CINCSAC just a few years
after having left Westover.
General Meyer was the 57th
commander from September
1959 to September 1961.
|General Nichols was
commander of the
Wing, then later 57th
commander as well.
General Davis was
commander of the 57th Air
Division from July 1963 to
February 1964. Previously,
the general had been chief of
staff at HQ 8th Air Force. His
third assignment at Westover
was as vice commander of
8th in August 1968. He had
been promoted to major
general by that time.
commanded the 57th Air
Division from August 1968
until July 1969, when the