Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly. It is Friday, February 7th, 2014. We are in Alexandria, Virginia and we are here today to interview and talk about Colonel Heflin. And this is his son-in-law. Would you please introduce yourself? Say your name and spell it?
Darrell Dvorak: My name is Darrell Dvorak.
Kelly: Could you spell Darrell?
Kelly: Thank you. You have done a lot of research and written some really wonderful articles about your father-in-law. Maybe you can start—say his full name and then you can start telling us about him.
Dvorak: My father-in-law was Colonel Clifford John Heflin, and I'm one of his four sons-in-law, married to his third oldest daughter. I probably first met—I'm going to call him "Big Daddy" because that is what his family typically referred to him. I called him “Colonel,” just to be clear about that. I wouldn't call him Big Daddy.
I probably first met him in 1970. And my wife and I got married in ’72, and unfortunately by 1980 he had died. At the time he was retired, he and his wife lived in Reno, Nevada. My wife and I lived in Chicago. I was essentially starting my career. I suppose if we had lived closer together and if I had seen he and his wife, my mother-in-law, more often maybe I would have had the—I will call it nerve—to ask him questions about his career. I naively assumed that what he had done in the war—World War II—I assumed that it was common knowledge. I didn't learn that far from being common knowledge, most of his World War II service on behalf of the Manhattan Project had been totally unknown.
It was about three years ago, shortly after I retired, that I thought I would make a brief record of his career, because of the significance, in particular of the Manhattan Project, for my children. Even back then you could do some prodigious online research. Your organization, your foundation has a great amount of online information. All of the dozens of interviews, not one of them ever mentioned my father-in-law, which I found curious. I wrote to the National Personnel Center in St. Louis for his records. I gathered from one of his daughters in particular who had taken—after his death had taken his military records and papers, but never did anything with them. I started gathering bits and pieces of information. I could find nothing online. I'm talking specifically with regard to the Manhattan Project. It was a total void, which was very frustrating to me.
I was going to be a mere assembler of information about his career. And I discovered I had to become an amateur historian and researcher. And I have been to all of the principal archival sources: College Park, Library of Congress. I also went out to some private archives. And I finally began to find pieces of information, but they were simply pieces of information. There were some records that I didn't get access to. You recently did an oral interview with the daughter of Commander [William “Deak”] Parsons, Admiral Parsons I should call him, who in my estimation—I think the estimation of most people that understand what went on in the Manhattan Project—was probably no less than third in importance to Groves and Oppenheimer. And I'm happy to say that I only recently discovered sufficient evidence that to me showed that Parsons and my father-in-law had a pretty good relationship.
Somewhere more than three years ago I started - I discovered I had to do research. I slowly assembled information and I wrote a paper and I submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal that will remain unnamed.
Dvorak: I received back from the editor of this journal a copy of the first peer review. By the way, when you do peer reviews, the people doing the review of the work don't know who the author is and the author doesn't know who has reviewed their work. The thing that struck me in particular was, Cliff was the Commander of the Wendover Base in Utah during his Manhattan Project service, but he had—usually the base commander simply operates the base. The base commander is the host of the operational units that are based there.
This fellow, I think he probably had a military background and I suspect an Air Force background. He totally dismissed the possibility that in this case, and it may be singular, in this case, my father-in-law was—not only operated this 1.8 million acre largest gunnery and bombing site in the world, but he also was responsible for two operational units that played the key role working with Los Alamos in weaponizing, is a word I sometimes use, weaponizing Los Alamos research. In other words, taking the research and translating that into effective weapons that can be used. Just dismissed it out of hand. Wouldn't take any of my evidence. That kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.
I did a little more research, and then I decided I needed some big guns on my side. The first thing I did is, I contacted a historian—I was put in touch with a historian who is currently with what is called the US Strategic Command. The US Strategic Command is called a unified command, which is an umbrella organization for Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Everything you can think of in terms of the strategic aspect of those services is under this one umbrella. This historian was, first of all he was open-minded. And while he had some pointed questions for me over time, eventually he saw I had not all the answers but sufficient answers. I credit him in the first paper I wrote.
And then the other breakthrough I had was with the biographer, the definitive account biography of the man himself, General Groves, and that is a fellow by the name of Robert Standish Norris. He goes by Stan. I got his attention because I went out to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, where Stan's papers that he had assembled for the biography were captured. While Stan had provided a—I forget the term—but what topics are addressed in which boxes, and there were a couple of boxes there. I found a couple of gems.
Without getting into details, he knew that Heflin had a role in Manhattan, but he hadn't quite figured out what it was. He had never mentioned Heflin in the biography of Groves. When I got back home, I emailed Stan. He didn't know me. I emailed him and I enclosed copies of two of the documents that were in his files that I thought would get his attention. I asked if he would kindly spend some time with me. I promised I wouldn't take more than an hour of his time. He is in Washington at the Federation of American Scientists, downtown Washington. I had sent him an outline in advance of what I wanted to talk about, and I said I wouldn't take more than an hour. Well, it was three hours later, and Stan has been of great help to me. He has worked on both of my papers, and I owe him a lot. And the fact that I was able to convince Stan of the value of what I had, that of course meant a lot to me.
Again, what started out as, “I am simply going to record a few things for my kids,” turned into a major project. After submitting it to a different peer review military history journal, my first paper on Colonel Heflin was published in December of 2012. And my second one, which focused specifically on the Trinity Project, was published in December of 2013. So that is kind of an overview of how I got into all of this.
Looking back, what strikes me is that in this thirty-one year career that Colonel Heflin had, that Big Daddy had, the first eight years or so, it was almost like a straight line that led directly to what I'm going to say what Groves was looking for, for the part of the Army Air Force's command working with Los Alamos. And I will try to discuss it briefly.
Cliff, Big Daddy, joined what was known as the Air Cadets he was twenty-one years old. This would have been in 1938. This was for pilot training in a sense. The following year, he was a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces. This is prewar. This would have been, let's say up until 1942. He had several early assignments that demonstrated first off his pilot skills but also his leadership skills. In that first, ‘38 to ’41, three years, he became a Major. He was Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain then Major. Pretty remarkable.
Then December '41, we get bombed by the Japanese. We finally declare war on the Axis powers. Big Daddy's first role in World War II, actually it was also Tibbets' first role in World War II, was flying anti-submarine patrols. When I say anti-submarine, we were looking for both Japanese as well as German submarines. It turns out that the Japanese never did anything productive with their submarines. The Germans, on the other hand, were massively successful in the Atlantic. Big Daddy had a succession of roles in anti-submarine work. He worked the West Coast, he worked the East Coast, he worked the Gulf Coast.
There are two important things that came out of his experience in anti-submarine warfare. One was, the anti-submarine work, you are flying bombers. They also flew other aircraft, but the bombers were most effective. Bombers are usually several thousand feet up in the air, tens of thousands of feet up in the air, and they are dropping bombs from high altitudes. And they are usually moving pretty fast, because they don't want to get hit by anti-aircraft or get attacked by enemy fighters.
Anti-submarine warfare is entirely different. You are flying low, you are flying slow, and it is all about pinpoint accuracy of what you are dropping, the depth chargers in this case, the bombs. Those techniques would become important in his next role.
The story of our military preparedness for World War II is frightening in retrospect. We weren't prepared. Certainly not militarily. And part of that was, we weren't prepared with regard to whole bunches of things, but certainly our aircraft.
Finally, near the end of his work in anti-submarine warfare, he finally got his hands on a B-24 Liberator aircraft, the bomber. He first got his hands on them when he was still in the States. But after a certain period, there was a political tussle between the Army, Air Forces and the Navy about who was going to control anti-submarine warfare. A deal was cut where the Navy was going to take over the anti-submarine warfare. But before that happened, Big Daddy, Cliff, was transferred to England, and his squadron was bombing the German—what they call the submarine pens. In this case, this is where the Germans would—like the homeports of the German submarines. We were bombing the ports rather than trying to bomb the individual submarines. In this case, he was primarily focused on the Bay of Biscay, which is right off of Normandy. He would come to Normandy very well.
In the fall of 1943, he had been flying essentially anti-submarine warfare for a year, from roughly early '42 to let's say mid-'43. He is in England. His submarine command has ended. And suddenly he is called to—he and a couple of his colleagues, his officers—were called to a meeting in England, where he was briefed on his next assignment. That assignment was to work with the Office of Strategic Services.
When we think of the Office of Strategic Services today, it is typically known as the forerunner to the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency. The Office of Strategic Services was the brainchild—there was a tortured history to the OSS—but it was the brainchild of a guy known as Wild Bill Donovan. Wild Bill Donovan won the Medal of Honor in World War I, and he became an intimate of President Franklin Roosevelt. And he convinced Roosevelt of the need for the OSS. It went on back and forth for a couple of years. But by mid-1943, the decision was finally made politically, because of the Army, the Army Air Forces, they didn't want to have anything to do with the OSS. Finally, got approval to do things that the British were already doing. Their counterpart to the OSS was known as the Special Operations Executive.
The Brits were doing—well, the purpose of what they were all about was to organize, supply, train the European resistance movements to coordinate their operations with the Allied forces. Specifically, what everything was pointing towards was the need to support the invasions; everybody expected the invasions of Europe by the Allied forces. There were two primary invasion points. One everybody knows about was Operation Overlord, which landed on the Normandy beaches. Then there was a second one some weeks later known as Operation Dragoon, and that invasion came up from southern France.
What Eisenhower and the Supreme Headquarters, the Allied Expeditionary Forces, what they wanted to do, was have the resistance movements, particularly in France, sabotage the response of the German forces, the German Army forces that were back in the interior. Nothing you can do about what was there on the beaches. They were sitting there, and you are going to hit them straight on. But you have the reserve forces, the backup forces, and what they wanted to do, was to delay and disrupt their support of the front line German forces. They had to organize these resistance forces.
First of all, they had: “Who are they?” They had to find them. They had to separate the weak from the chaff, as to who was likely to be effective and who was not likely to be effective. It was like cherry picking. So the OSS agents and the Special Operations, SOE agents, were back there trying to make sense of, “Who can we count on?”
The Army Air Force's command, Heflin's command, was known as—the project started out with the codename “Carpetbaggers.” And that kind of became the nickname of the Army Air Force's—they were the air arm of the OSS. As I said, the Brits, the SOE, Special Operations Executive, they had their—there was an RAF, Royal Air Force counterpart to the Carpetbaggers. They had been doing it since 1941. And only 2.5 years later that the US got the OSS established and organized the Carpetbaggers command.
Eventually both the RAF worked on behalf of the OSS and the Carpetbaggers worked on behalf of the SOE. In other words, they had a lot of work to do, and if the OSS could serve the British side, that's fine and vice versa.
Dvorak: Yeah. What was significant about the Carpetbaggers was the way that that Heflin had organized the effort. To boil it down the characteristics of what he did, it was a top-secret unit. The Carpetbaggers were a top-secret unit. They had to work in conjunction with a non-military organization, the OSS. In fact, they got their marching orders from the OSS via Eisenhower.
The Carpetbaggers, as with the RAF, they were one-of-a-kind unit. There was only one command that was doing what they were doing, unlike bomb squadrons, fighter squadrons, and so on. They were unique. They had to work with this non-military organization. Everything was top secret and they had a dedicated air base. They didn't share their operations with anyone else. The Carpetbaggers air base that was granted to them was Harrington, which was in central England. Working essentially on behalf of the OSS and Eisenhower's headquarters, Heflin had to be a diplomat and be politically sensitive, which most—you have to be up the Air Force chain of command. In this case, the Air Force chain of command, they didn't even get in his way.
In the process, they were very successful. Heflin was a hands-on commander. Every new mission, from the first dropping of the bodies to supplying, dropping supplies, arms to the resistance movement, landing behind enemy lines—Heflin flew the missions first before he would let his men do any of that. And he probably had fifteen to twenty missions that he flew in the year that he was in command of the Carpetbaggers.
They were very successful in organizing the resistance movements again, along with the OSS. By September of '44, the Normandy invasion was June 6th, of course, of 1944, and by September the Allied forces had driven into France and beyond. Paris was liberated. The French were wildly excited. He [General Charles de Gaulle] took more credit than he deserved. Essentially, the Carpetbaggers role was done.
Heflin, during that period, was promoted to full Colonel. At one point, he was the youngest Colonel in the Army Air Forces. He wasn't by the end of hostilities, but for a brief time he was the youngest Colonel. He was awarded multiple honors. First of all, from the US he was given the Legion of Merit. That one he got from Eisenhower. Distinguished Flying Cross, that one he got from General Spaatz. He got several air medals from [Colonel James] Doolittle, who was head of the Eighth Air Force. He was awarded the highest French award, the Legion of Honour. He was also awarded the French Cross of War, and the Carpetbaggers were given a Presidential Unit Citation.
Near the end of October, Heflin had been overseas for more than a year, so he was going to return to the US and enjoy a month or two of leave. Instead, as soon as he got back, he was told to report to Colorado Springs, the headquarters of Second Air Force. He got there, and he was told to report to Wendover Army Air Field.
He probably had spent time at Wendover in some of his training previously. Wendover was a major training base for both bombing training as well as fighter training. He probably knew about Wendover, not that he was happy about Wendover, but he probably knew it. His flight records show that he flew two two-day sets of flights. These involved like sixteen hours of flying. He was flying fighters. I'm speculating that what happened was that he was considered to be a candidate for a role in the Manhattan Project, and what happened was, he was interviewing with people, probably primarily at Wendover or Los Alamos and Washington DC. Obviously, he had to pass muster with Groves. It's not clear how he came to the attention of people like Groves. But given the awards that he had from some of the top people, presumably Groves would have asked for recommendations. Heflin's timing in terms of coming back to the States was what was needed.
In my research, I uncovered an oral interview that Groves gave in 1970. He never mentioned this in his book, but he was very critical of Tibbets. Tibbets was a tremendous pilot, but Tibbets had never commanded a group as large as the 509th Composite Group was intended to become. I think I've found some evidence in Groves’ diary that Groves realized this. He wasn't happy with the choice to begin with. This was General [Hap] Arnold's choice of Tibbets. But something happened, I think, that may have triggered—I think he may have triggered the selection of Heflin. But I can't be sure about that. In Groves’ diaries, one of his secretary's recorded massive amounts of verbiage for the years that he was working the Manhattan Project. There is a note that his secretary took a call from Parsons to Groves saying—this is on November 2nd of 1944. And the message is, “Parsons has met the new CO and approves.” I think they were talking about Heflin.
Heflin took his leave for November and December. And in January of '45, he officially took command of the 216th Army Air Force's Base Unit Special, as it was designated. That meant he was doing all of the work of managing the world's largest air base. What that means is, it is like a small city. It had military responsibilities, it had municipal responsibilities, and it had what you would think of as business responsibilities, like bowling allies and restaurants and laundry facilities. In any event, it was like running a small city.
But in addition, Heflin was going to be in charge of the two units that were going to be doing the day-to-day work with Los Alamos on the ordnance work with Los Alamos. The way I put it is, they were weaponizing the science and engineering. Turning that knowledge into practical bonds. The challenge there was, the two technologies—or what would eventually become the two technologies—resulted in bomb shapes, sizes and weights that were unlike anything the Air Force had ever been exposed to. It was a double impact. They had to figure out the ballistics of these new bombs and they had to marry those bombs to the B-29s that were chosen to fly the bombing missions. Well, it extended over a year. It started in the fall of 1944. It was a cycling process. Los Alamos would come up with the designs, and then they would have to build these designs and think of them as dummy bombs or inert bombs. Then they would drop—test these bombs. And then they would evaluate the ballistic characteristics of these bombs. “When you are aiming this way does the bomb fall that way?” Ballistics is a science into itself.
They would measure the tests. They would figure out, “What is going right?” They would figure out, “What is going wrong?” In the meantime, Los Alamos is continuing to refine the technologies that they are using.
So it was a recurring cycle. Technology development. Fashion the bombs. Test the bombs. See what it meant for the conversion of the B-29s to carry these monster bombs. And then you would start all over again. That whole process was under the general control of Parsons. In December, Parsons had his hands full with so many things, he brought on—actually December of '44, they brought on Admiral Ashworth—not Admiral, Commander [Frederick] Ashworth.
Ashworth, first of all, when he got his assignment he goes to Los Alamos, meets with Parsons. Then he goes up to Wendover, he and his wife, and I think he might have had his children. Maybe not children yet, but he had his wife. He looks around. He begged Parsons that he wouldn't be based at Wendover, he would be based at Los Alamos. And so Parsons or Ashworth and the technicians from Los Alamos would fly up every Monday and then they would return on Friday. He was up there during the week, but his wife didn't have to live in Wendover.
Just a passing reference—Bob Hope apparently went to Wendover at least once to entertain the troop. And he infamously called it not “Wendover” but “Leftover” because it was remote. Really remote. It is near the border between Las Vegas to the west and Utah to the east. In the middle of nowhere. Dusty. Cold. The saying was, “There were more slot machines in the town of Wendover than there were people in the town of Wendover.”
It really got off the dime in January, where Heflin created two new units. One was the flight test section, which flew the drop test missions and directed their part of the conversion of the B-29s to be able to carry the bombs. And then what was called the Special Ordnance Detachment, which worked with the Los Alamos people to create the ever-evolving dummy bombs for dropping, as well as—they had to invent new material handling equipment to load these bombs. If you think about like today—or maybe not today—back twenty years ago, you would slide a gurney underneath the bomber, you would open the doors, and they would lift up the bombs. Well these bombs are so big, and the B-29s were so low slung, they couldn't fit these bombs underneath. They created pits and they put this loading equipment in the pits. And they would drive the models out to the loading, put them in, the bomber would go over, and it would be lifted up into the bomb bay.
Ashworth has very nice code about his work with Heflin. Brief, but very nice. He referred to him as a very fine Air Force Officer who made Ashworth's job easy. What was disturbing, when I started to do my research, before I finally uncovered evidence—to this day, the official biography for Tibbets on the Air Force website credits him with all the ballistics work. There is no information whatsoever about Heflin. Why did that happen? Why was he unknown? Well, I think I finally figured out why nobody knew about the role of Heflin or the 216th Base Unit.
Brilliant man that Groves was, he realized well before the war ended that once the atomic bombs were dropped there would be a clamor: “What is that all about? Atomic bombs?” So he commissioned this physicist, I remember his he goes by two first names and then [Henry DeWolf] Smyth. He wrote what became known as the Smyth Report. Kind of an official title, which I can't recall at the moment. What this was intended to do—and in fact Stan Norris maybe had been the first one to characterize it this way—the Smyth Report was the official description of the development of the atomic bombs. It was factual as far as it went. It didn't present all the facts. But for years it became the standard by which any information about the atomic bomb program, this is what you could talk about, and if it wasn't in the Smyth Report you couldn't talk about it.
Parsons, when he reviewed the draft of the report, he said, “You can't talk about all of this ordnance work. It has got too much military significance.” Oppenheimer wanted at least some of it to be included. Smyth took what I would think of as a, easy way out, and he just took out all reference to the ordnance work. In other words, there is no discussion whatsoever about what was done and who was doing it at least from the—well from both Los Alamos as well as the Army Air Force's side. Never existed. How much did that shield the information? I don't know how much and for how long but it was one hundred percent for a while. There was no information whatsoever about what Heflin had done.
On top of that, how should I say this? The work had to continue as it did at Los Alamos. The work didn't end, but once the war was over, Oppenheimer left, and people were kind of at loose ends. They didn't know what was going on. Heflin, by this time, let's say the second bomb was dropped, August 9th on Nagasaki, by a month later Heflin had already been notified he was going to take over as CO, commanding officer of the Roswell Army Air Field in New Mexico, which is where the 509th was going to return. They weren't going to return to Wendover, they were going to return to Roswell.
I neglected to talk about one thing that Heflin did. Let me back up. When you are a base commander, typically you got a civilian population that lives close to you. Typically what they would do is, the base commanders would make available a biography of themselves, so that they had good relationships. I never saw a biography of Cliff when he was a CO of Wendover. But I have got copies of his biography from 1952, sometime in the early 60s, and then his retirement in 1968. In all three it says, “He organized the 509th.” I'll let that one sink in. The 509th was Tibbets' command. These biographies, including the one for his retirement, and these biographies are all available when Tibbets and [Charles] Sweeney for example, were still on active duty in the Air Force.
“He organized the 509th.” Well, what the heck does that mean? It doesn't mean he managed the 509th. But he organized it in terms of bringing in the manpower, working with Second Air Force, which was the 509ths military chain of command. Tibbets reported to Groves and people like that. He didn't report to—nominally he reported, but Groves was in charge of what he was doing.
As I said, I have got copies of the three biographies, and the wording remains the same. He organized it. He was in charge. He was staffing his own two—well he has got the Base Unit, he has got the flight test section, and he has got the ordnance unit. He had manpower needs. The 509th had manpower needs. I speculate that it just made sense for all of the manpower needs that were flowing into Second Air Force—“Well we need this, we need this,” that they channeled through one person. And that one person was Cliff Heflin. But that is a little tidbit of information that is not known.
The other reason that Heflin and the 216th weren't known besides the fact that they obliterated the ordnance history from the Smyth Report is that the man who got all the credit, including for the ballistics work, Paul Tibbets, he wrote four autobiographies. A couple of them were just rewrites of earlier issue. Four autobiographies. And he gave countless interviews. He never mentioned that there was a base commander at Wendover, who it was, what role he played. He never apparently corrected the official biography put out by the Air Force that he was in charge of the ballistics. There were two, possibly three times that Tibbets mentioned Cliff. And frankly, they weren't pretty. In each case they were in private conversations and at least two of the three times they weren't likely to see the light of day.
One was in a personal communication that is actually—you got all of the Parsons/Ashworth transcripts. I forget the name of the organization that the Atomic Heritage Foundation has taken over [the Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association], but you will find in there a letter. I can't tell you who it is. It is a handwritten letter, maybe it was Teppler to Tibbets, and he turned over the paper and he gave his little explanation. That was a personal communication, but he talked about Heflin because somebody had noticed the name.
And then Tibbets did an oral interview with the Air Force Historical Research Agency, the one at Maxwell. And apparently the way it went is that they were showing Tibbets' pictures, and I have got the picture in one of my papers, of Heflin and Tibbets standing in front of a B-29 at Wendover. They ask him who this was. He says, “Oh that is Cliff Heflin, that was a friend of mine. I asked for him to be my base commander at Wendover.” And he specifically requested him. He says that Heflin told General [Uzal Girard] Ent, who was at one time the Commander of Second Air Force, that even though Heflin had been a Colonel for eight months before Tibbets became Colonel—Tibbets became a Colonel in January of '45—that sure, Heflin would be happy to work under Tibbets.
Heflin never worked under Tibbets. There were two separate chains of command. Heflin had his responsibilities to Parsons and Oppenheimer and Groves, and then he had his Second Air Force chain of command. There is some deceit in what Tibbets did. Like I said, he never talked about it publicly. But when he talked about it privately, he wasn't honest about their relationship. And I try not to judge him in the papers that I have written. It was very disappointing.
After the war ended, Heflin goes to be CO of Roswell. The 509th returns there. Tibbets returns to Roswell, but then he takes off pretty quickly for working on the next atomic bomb program. Meanwhile, Heflin is breaking up the 509th. Using the core bombing part of the 509th is going to be the basis for the new strategic air command.
Tibbets eventually returned to Roswell. I don't have the exact date at my fingertips, but the next thing that happens is Tibbets and Heflin are both sent to the Air Force Command and Staff School at Maxwell in Alabama. They were there for a little over a year, and that was probably the last time that they served together.
One of the things that is striking is that I have not been able to locate any new awards that Heflin earned for his Wendover command. Beginning in the early ‘50s, he started to be recommended for promotion to General. Those recommendations ran consistently up until the mid- '60s and then they stopped. What happened is that in 1953, Big Daddy was Commander of Stead Air Force Base outside of Reno, Nevada. His Deputy CO was an officer by the name of Demetrius Stampados. Demetrius Stampados had twice been on staffs for Curtis Lemay. Stampados and LeMay were both race car enthusiasts. Not only did they have the professional relationship, but they shared an avocational interest.
In 1953, the Reno Chamber of Commerce, I think it was Chamber of Commerce, put up what was then $4,000—today's money, it is something over $30,000—put up a chunk of money to sponsor a road race. Stampados took that money and put it into one of his personal accounts. Apparently, and this is something that Heflin explained to his son-in-law, who was a thirty-year Air Force pilot and whose career overlapped with Heflin's, he didn't give him chapter and verse, but he said LeMay—this was a friend of LeMay's as well as a former colleague—LeMay suggested that Heflin allow Stampados to retire quietly from the Air Force. Heflin didn't follow that advice.
By this time, LeMay was a four star general. And by 1961, he became Chief of Staff of the Air Force, numero uno. Heflin kept on getting—he was put on what is known as the General's List, which are the colonels who are eligible or considered to be eligible for promotion to general. I don't know how many years it was, but I'm guessing it was probably ten or twelve years that he was on this list, that he kept on getting recommendations in his—every six months they have their reviews. Then suddenly the reviews stopped recommending him. He never got that promotion.
He retired in 1968, and has already been mentioned, he had what was the equivalent of a general's retirement ceremony. He was awarded what is considered to be the number three top award in the Air Force. Top would be the Medal of Honor. Next would be the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is the award that Tibbets received when he returned from his bombing mission. It's famous. The General walks out and pins it on Tibbets, and Tibbets is holding in his hand—he is surprised—that he is holding his pipe in his hand, trying to hide it. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Heflin was. By the way, Tibbets never earned the Distinguished Service Medal.
As has already been mentioned, the Distinguished Service Medal is typically given to two star generals and above. I can't say that no other colonel was ever awarded, but it was extremely rare. Cliff was very proud of that. In the single interview that he gave to the Reno newspaper, that was in 1976, he mentions that. He mentions that he was very proud to have received that.
He continued to get good reviews, excellent reviews. He had a variety of operating positions and staff positions, he was overseas, he was back here. Did service in Korea. Obviously, he didn't retire pleased with the way things turned out. That may have been another factor in why most of the veterans were quiet, didn't talk about their service. Maybe Cliff had another reason he wasn't talking about things. I'm not done telling. I got at least, I hope it's the last, I got one more paper to write. It is going to be more details about his Carpetbaggers command.
I should mention, it is very interesting—I'm trying to remember the date. There was a very—what became a ten million print of a book called Is Paris Burning? You are too young to know about Is Paris Burning?. It was not only a best-selling book, but it was made into a movie with all of these movie stars. Is Paris Burning? was an account of the liberation of Paris. Cliff and his Carpetbaggers are mentioned in that book. And the Carpetbaggers were mentioned several times. Never to any great extent, but Heflin was named. Again, very few details. Nobody ever mentioned him in connection with the Manhattan Project, but they did with the Carpetbaggers.
There is a heck of a lot more to be told about that command. I will be writing about that. Yes, the Carpetbaggers were important, but they weren't as important as the Manhattan Project, and Cliff got mentioned there, and he didn't get mentioned at all. I assume it was a bittersweet end to his career, but I don't know what his thoughts really were, and I never will.
Kelly: I think you have done him a great service.
Dvorak: Thank you.
Kelly: You certainly have. How many men have such dedicated son-in-laws?
Dvorak: It is one of those things, the dog gets the bone in his teeth and he won't let go until he is— I had to figure out the story. Unless and until someone finds those missing records that just evaporated—I mean, they had to exist. The military can't get by without recording everything. Until that happens, his story won't be fully known, which is unfortunate.