SP-4106 Aiming At Targets


[229-230] APPENDIX A


Selected Documents


July 15 and 26, 1960

NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan's letter to me and my response

May 8, 1961

Letter, with report attached, from Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson

November 15 and December 6, 1961

Letter from NASA researcher John Houbolt to me and my response

February 5, 1967

My initial report on the Apollo 204 fire to NASA Administrator James E. Webb

October 5 and 12, 1967

Letters from President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey upon my resignation from NASA

August 4, 1969

Letter from me as secretary of the Air Force to Vice President Spiro T. Agnew

April 1 and 5, 1971

My mid-term letter to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and his response

April 10 and May 15, 1973

My letter of resignation from the Air Force and President Richard M. Nixon's response

January 18, 1977

My letter to James Schlesinger, assistant to the President-elect (for energy)

January 18 and 19, 1977

My letter of resignation from ERDA to President Gerald R. Ford, his reply, and a January 19 letter to me from Richard W. Roberts of ERDA

December 16,1985

Letter to me from former President Gerald R. Ford upon his resignation from the Aerospace Corporation


[231] As head of the executive branch of the federal government, the President of the United States has responsibility for a dozen major departments (the largest being the Department of Defense), as well as a number of independent agencies. Of the agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA) were prominent during my days in government. ERDA became part of the Department of Energy in President Carter's administration; NASA, although occasionally the center of criticism, continues to function on its own.

The President's responsibilities extend well beyond the departments and agencies to a wide variety of boards and commissions. Reporting to the President are on the order of I 50 individuals, in all. Such a span of control in the management of a large enterprise is an order of magnitude larger than that dictated by the accepted wisdom. To obtain some degree of conformity throughout the executive branch, the President has an Executive Office employing about 1,000 personnel. Included within this inner circle is the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The President has the authority to hire (with the consent of the Senate) and fire about 1,000 key members of the administration. Within NASA, only two positions are piled by formal presidential appointment, those of the administrator and the deputy administrator. When I first joined NASA, I held an "excepted position," serving at the pleasure of the administrator. Subsequently, l received presidential appointments to three positions: NASA deputy administrator, secretary of the Air Force, and administrator of ERDA. The correspondence in this appendix relates to my appointments and my relationships with the Office of the President, as well as a number of key reports on policy and project issues.


July 15 and 26, 1960: NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan's letter to me and my response

Following our dinner meeting on Monday, June 27, 1960, I received a midweek call from Keith in which he indicated that he needed an early decision and was having final conversations with another candidate. After several soul-searching discussions with Gene, I threw my hat in the ring by week's end. We had planned a summer cruise aboard Serene. We sailed out of Manchester harbor with Bill and May English immediately after receiving the affirmative phone call referred to in Keith's letter but before any announcements had been made. By the time we reached the coast of Maine, the word had spread, and friends and acquaintances were offering congratulations. Upon my return, I received his letter with its somewhat ominous final paragraph. I sent him my acceptance on July 26, in which I mentioned a two-year stint for "family planning purposes." On this and all subsequent jobs, I have offered my services for two years, a period in which much can be accomplished but with a foreseeable end. Perhaps I was a bit concerned about my loss of freedom.


15 July 1960

Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr.
675 Hale Street
Beverly Farms, Massachusetts


Dear Bob:

This will confirm our telephone conversation of this morning. I am attaching for your files a copy of the press release which is to be made on Tuesday morning next. It is my understanding that this action has been coordinated with the action to be taken by the Public Relations Department of RCA in announcing your departure from your present job.

I was delighted to learn that you could spend some substantial portion of Wednesday, 27 July, in Washington with Dick Homer. As I told you, he will want to help you in connection with your office assistants to the greatest extent possible. It seemed best to set this kind of a meeting for some day other than those scheduled for the NASA-Industry Conference. In this connection, our Advisory Committee on Organization will be meeting on the 28th and 29th, and, as I told you, Dick Homer and I plan to take dinner with them on the evening of Thursday, 28 July. I would like very much to have you join us for that session which I think will be very interesting. It is my understanding that you can do this.

I think I should confirm in writing my offer to you of the post of Associate Administrator of NASA, reporting to me, at the annual salary of $21,000. In this post you will have responsibility for operating management of the Agency in the same manner as has Mr. Homer. I am delighted that you will join us and I look forward with eager anticipation to your being on the job full time. In the interim, as circumstances may permit, we will look forward to having you with us from time to time.

I am going to be away for ten days but Dr. Dryden will be here during my absence and can answer any questions which you might have. I hope that your holiday is giving you plenty of rest and building up a substantial store of energy-I can assure you you will need the latter.

Kindest personal regards.



T. Keith Glennan


July 26, 1960

Dr. T. Keith Glennan

Dear Keith:

Thank you for your letter of 15 July. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss office assistants with Dick Homer on Wednesday, 27 July, and I am happy to have dinner with you, Dick Homer and your Advisory Committee on Organization on Thursday evening, 28 July.

As I indicated in our telephone conversation of 9 July, I am looking forward to working with you as Associate Administrator of NASA, starting 1 September at an annual salary of $21,000. Although I recognize that many factors may affect the duration of the assignment, we are thinking in terms of a two-year period for family planning purposes.

With best regards,


Robert C. Seamans, Jr.

May 8, 1961: Letter, with report attached, from Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson


During the last week in April and first week in May, the Vice President held a number of meetings relevant to his charge from President Kennedy. Meeting with him was a disparate group, ranging from those in charge of NASA, such as Jim Webb and Hugh Dryden, to Wernher von Braun, Air Force General Bernie Schiever, and others in and out of government. Finally, the Vice President called directly on McNamara and Webb for their specific recommendations. The important sections of the resulting, somewhat convoluted, document are included below. It should be recognized that the Department of Defense (DOD) already had proposed a draft report containing many ideas and recommendations not germane to the joint decisions. These had to be removed by negotiations, and joint NASA DOD findings and recommendations had to be added.

[234] The letter and report were delivered to the Vice President on the morning of May 8, just prior to the celebration for Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard. Following a White House award ceremony, Shepard delivered an address to Congress, overseen by the Vice President and House Speaker John McCormick. He then went with his family to the State Department, where he was tendered a luncheon by the Vice President. Johnson left the luncheon, report in hand, for a meeting with the President.

May 8, 1961


Dear Mr. Vice President:

Attached to this letter is a report entitled "Recommendations for Our National Space Program: Changes, Policies, Goals," dated May 8, 1961. This document represents our joint thinking. We recommend that, if you concur with its contents and recommendations, it be transmitted to the President for his information and as a basis for early adoption implementation of the revised and expanded objectives which it contains.


Robert McNamara
James E. Webb



It is the purpose of this report (1) to describe changes to our national space efforts requiring additional appropriations for FY 1962; (2) to outline the thinking of the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of NASA concerning U.S. status, prospects, and policies for space; and (3) to depict the chief goals which in our opinion should become part of an Integrated National Space Plan....


I. Recommendations for FY 1962 Add-ons

Our recommendations for additional FY 1962 NOA [New Obligation Authority] for our space efforts are listed below. They total $626 million, of which all but $77 million is for NASA....


II. National Space Policy

Projects in space may be undertaken for any one of four principal reasons. They may be aimed at gaining scientific knowledge. Some, in the future, will be of commercial or chiefly civilian value.

[235] Several current programs are of potential military value. Finally, some space projects may be undertaken chiefly for reasons of national prestige.

The U.S. is not behind in the first three categories. Scientifically and militarily we are ahead....


III. Major National Space Goals

It is the purpose of this section to outline some of the principal goals, both long-range and short-range, toward which our national space efforts should, in our opinion, be directed....

We recommend that our National Space Plan include the objective of manned lunar exploration before the end of this decade. It is our belief that manned exploration to the vicinity of and on the surface of the Moon represents a major area in which international competition for achievement in space will be conducted. The orbiting of machines is not the same as the orbiting or landing of man. It is man, not merely machines, in space that capture the imagination of the world....

The establishment of this major objective has many implications. It will cost a great deal of money. It will require large efforts for a long time. It requires parallel and supporting undertakings which are also costly and complex. Thus, for example, the RANGER and SURVEYOR projects and the technology associated with them must be undertaken and must succeed to provide the data, the techniques, and the experience without which manned lunar exploration cannot be undertaken.

The Soviets have announced lunar landing as a major objective of their program. They may have begun to plan for such an effort years ago. They may have undertaken important first steps which we have not begun.

It may be argued, therefore, that we undertake such an objective with several strikes against us. We cannot avoid announcing not only our general goals but many of our specific plans, and our successes and our failures along the way. Our cards are and will be face up- theirs are face down.

Despite these considerations we recommend proceeding toward this objective. We are uncertain of Soviet intentions, plans, or status. Their plans, whatever they may be, are not more certain of success than ours. Just as we accelerated our ICBM program we have accelerated and are passing the Soviets in important areas in space technology. If we set our sights on this difficult objective we may surpass [236] them here as well. Accepting the goals gives us a chance. Finally, even if the Soviets get there first, as they may, and as some think they will, it is better for us to get there second than not at all. In any event, we will have mastered the technology. If we fail to accept this challenge it may be interpreted as a lack of national vigor and capacity to respond....

November 15 and December 6, 1961: Letter from NASA researcher John Houbolt to me, and my response


Even before President Kennedy's special message to Congress, NASA was switching into high gear. Many policy issues needed addressing. To what extent should NASA hire additional personnel? Where would we find individuals capable of managing large programs and projects? Where should the management of Apollo be located? Were new NASA centers required? To what extent could NASA enlist the support of the Army, Navy, and Air Force? Should the Apollo Saturn be assembled outdoors, as was customary, or indoors? How was NASA going to be managed to control schedules and costs or to select contractors?

None of the decisions were as intractable as the selection of the mission "mode"-the strategy adopted for getting humans and equipment to the Moon. There were two strong camps-one in favor of direct ascent, the other for Earth orbit rendezvous. However, there was also a "voice in the wilderness," that of John Houbolt, who had a small team located at the Langley Research Center in Langley, Virginia. He advanced the concepts of lunar-orbit rendezvous.

Houbolt may not have felt confident that NASA was approaching the lunar landing "fairly and frankly," but my written response to him, given here, was a lot more supportive than my first reaction, that he should cease and desist. Houbolt may have been a "crank, " but I thought his views made sense, and I kept checking to be certain Brainerd Holmes and his systems analyst Joe Shea gave Houbolt's views careful consideration.

Dear Dr. Seamans:

. . . Since we have had only occasional and limited contact, and because you therefore probably do not know me well, it is conceivable that after reading this you may feel that you are dealing with a crank. Do not be afraid of this. The thoughts expressed here may not be stated in as diplomatic a fashion as they might be, or as I would normally try to do, but this is by choice and at the moment is not [237] important. The important point is that you hear the ideas directly, not after they have filtered through a score or more of other people, with the attendant risk that they may not even reach you.


Manned Lunar Landing Through Use of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous

The Plan.-The first attachment outlines in brief the plan by which we may accomplish a manned lunar landing through use of a lunar rendezvous, and shows a number of schemes for doing this by means of using C-3, its equivalent, or even something else. The basic ideas of the plan were presented before various NASA people well over a year ago, and were since repeated at numerous interlaboratory meetings....

Regrettably, there was little interest shown in the idea-indeed, if any, it was negative....

In a rehearsal of a talk on rendezvous for the recent Apollo Conference, I gave a brief reference to the plan, indicating the benefit derivable therefrom, knowing full well that the reviewing committee would ask me to withdraw any reference to this idea. As expected, this was the only item I was asked to delete.

The plan has been presented to the Space Task Group personnel several times, dating back to more than a year ago. The interest expressed has been completely negative....

Grandiose plans, one-sided objections, and bias-for some inexplicable reason, everyone seems to want to avoid simple schemes. The majority always seems to be thinking in terms of grandiose plans, giving all sorts of arguments for long-range plans, etc. Why is there not more thinking in the direction of developing the simplest scheme possible? Figuratively, why not go buy a Chevrolet instead of a Cadillac? Surely a Chevrolet gets one from one place to another just as well as a Cadillac, and in many respects with marked advantages.

Concluding Remarks

It is one thing to gripe, another to offer constructive criticism. Thus, in making a few final remarks I would like to offer what I feel would be a sound integrated overall program. I think we should:

1. Get a manned rendezvous experiment going with the Mark II Mercury.1

2. Firm up the engine program suggested in this letter an attachment, converting the booster to these engines as soon as possible.

[238] 3. Establish the concept of using a C-32 and lunar rendezvous to accomplish the manned Iunar landing as a firm program.

Naturally, in discussing matters of the type touched upon herein, one cannot make comments without having them smack somewhat against NOVA. I want to assure you, however, I'm not trying to say NOVA should not be built.3 I'm simply trying to establish that our scheme deserves a parallel front-line position. As a matter of fact, because the lunar rendezvous approach is easier, quicker, less costly, requires less development, less new sites and facilities, it would appear more appropriate to say that this is the way to go, and that we will use NOVA as a follow on. Give us the go-ahead, and a C-3, and we will put men on the moon in very short order-and we don't need any Houston empire to do it.

In closing, Dr. Seamans, let me say that should you desire to discuss the points covered in this letter in more detail, I would welcome the opportunity to come up to Headquarters to discuss them with you.


1 NASA did so; the Mark II Mercury was renamed Gemini.
2 The C refers to "configuration," 2 and the 3 implies three F-1 rocket motors. Ultimately, we developed the C-5, called Saturn V.
3 The development of NOVA was never initiated.


Dear Mr. Houbolt:

Thank you for your letter of November 15. In reading through your arguments and supporting material for Lunar Rendezvous, I agree that you touched upon facets of the technical approach to Manned Lunar Landing which deserve serious consideration.

I appreciate the vigorous pursuit of your ideas. It would be extremely harmful to our organization and to the country if our qualified staff were unduly limited by restrictive guidelines. In this case, however, I feel confident that we are approaching the question of Manned Lunar Landing fairly and frankly and that all views are being carefully weighed in our continuing studies.

To insure that this is indeed the case, I have sent your letter and attached material to Brainerd Holmes for his evaluation and recommendations. He will contact you directly if he requires additional information related to your ideas and concepts.

Thank you again for writing me on this matter.

[239] February 5, 1967: My initial report on the Apollo 204 fire to NASA Administrator James E. Webb


The media were insistent that the public had a right to know the circumstances of the Apollo fire. The question was how to satisfy this intense pressure and still permit the Review Board to conduct an investigation methodically. James Webb obtained agreement from the President and Congress that I would be the intermediary. After my weekly visit with the board at Cape Canaveral, I prepared a report for Webb during my return. He in turn presented the report to the White House and some hours later to Congress. Congress in turn released the report to the press. In this way, the Review Board was not constrained. If their findings ultimately differed from mine, the mistake would be my own. The following is the first of numerous weekly reports.

The board is taking full advantage of the extensive taped data available as well as records made prior to the accident, the present condition of the spacecraft, and the reports of those involved in the test. All the physical evidence and data concerned with the test were impounded immediately following the accident. This was to assure that no pertinent information would be lost and that no actions would be taken except in the full context of all the data available.
As I have stated, the preliminary review of this information has not provided any direct indication of the origin of the fire: the preliminary analyses point to the conclusion that a clear identification of the source of ignition or of its possible source will depend upon detailed step-by-step examination of the entire spacecraft and its related test support equipment.
At present, the spacecraft is still mated to the unfueled launch vehicle at the pad. However, it is being prepared for removal to our industrial area where it will be disassembled and where experts in many technical and scientific areas can work with the physical evidence. Prior to disassembly of the damaged spacecraft, an undamaged and nearly identical (No. 014) spacecraft will be used to establish the conditions existing prior to the accident. The 014 spacecraft was flown from the North American [Aviation] plant in California to Cape Kennedy on Feb. 1.
The current plans are to go through a parallel, step-by-step disassembly process, first, working on the undamaged vehicle and then repeating as closely as possible the procedure on the damaged vehicle.
[240] In addition to analyses of recorded and physical data and equipment, the board is defining a series of investigative tasks and is assigning these to teams for execution.
At 6:31.03 P.M. E.S.T. the fire was first detected. The mission was holding at T-10 minutes. Up to this time there had been only minor difficulties with the space equipment. The purpose of the hold was to provide an opportunity to improve the communications between the spacecraft and the ground crew.
Lieutenant Colonel Grissom was the command pilot, sitting in the left seat; Lieutenant Colonel White, the senior pilot, sitting in the middle seat; and Lieutenant Commander Chaffee, the pilot, was in the right seat....
At 6:31.03, pilot Chaffee reported that a fire existed in the spacecraft....
At 6:31:12, or nine seconds after the first indication of fire, the cabin temperature started to increase rapidly, and pilot Chaffee reported that a bad fire existed in the cabin. Also at this time pilot Chaffee increased the illumination of the cabin lights and actuated the entry (internal) batteries....
At 6:31:17, or 14 seconds after the fire was first detected, the cabin pressure reached a level of approximately 29 p.s.i. (pounds per square inch) and the cabin ruptured....
The official death certificates for all three crew members list the cause of death as asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation due to the fire.
During my meetings with the board a number of other items of information were discussed, but I believe that the data I have outlined include all events having a significant bearing on an understanding of the accident.



October 5 and 12, 1967: Letters from President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey upon my resignation from NASA


After I came to the conclusion that I should resign for both NASA's good and my own, the question was how to leave on a positive note-or in Jim Webb's words when commenting on someone's departure from government amidst name-calling and rancor, how to leave without "dirtying one's nest." To arrive at the right answer, I contacted my brother Peter in Boston and former NASA counsel Walter Schier in New York. We met on [241] the third-floor deck of our Georgetown house. All agreed it was time for me to retire and that the letter of resignation should center on the seven years served-when only two had been planned. Gene typed the letter, which I hand-delivered to Jim Webb the next day. Two of the responses follow. Humphrey's letter refers to Edward C. Welsh, who was the executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.


October 5, 1967

Dear Dr. Seamans:

I regret your decision to leave Government service, and I accept your resignation with a reluctance born of your own hard work and high achievement.

The responsibility and vigor with which you have carried forward our nation's space program will remain an inspiration and incentive to your colleagues and to those who will come after you. Your loyalty and devotion to the public trust has earned you the respect and gratitude of all your fellow Americans.

Please accept my appreciation for your selfless dedication to duty throughout these many years, and my very best wishes for your continued success.


Lyndon B. Johnson




October 12, 1967


Dear Bob:

I was distressed to learn of your plans to leave the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which you have served so ably.

It has often been said that no one is indispensable to his government, [242] but I assure you that some can be spared less readily than others. You are one of those who will be missed the most.

Ed Welsh told me about your calling to let me know of your decision and also passed along the information that you had planned on being with NASA just two years-and that was back in 1960. So I add patience, loyalty, and industry to the long list of competences in which you must be rated so highly.

I know that you have been a pillar of strength to Jim Webb, bringing him continuity, technical ability, managerial wisdom, and splendid personality.

Wherever you go, you will have going with you the gratitude and respect of those who know you and your work here in the government.


Hubert H. Humphrey

August 4, 1969: Letter from me as secretary of the Air Force to Vice President Spiro T. Agnew


In 1969 President Nixon formed a Space Task Group under the chairmanship of Vice President Spiro Agnew. The other members of the group were Thomas Paine, administrator of NASA; Lee DuBridge, the President's science advisor; and myself, recently appointed secretary of the Air Force. Mel Laird, secretary of defense, deputized me to be the Defense Department's representative to the group. At the time of our first meeting, I had been away from NASA for little more than a year; yet I found my views quite at odds with those of my former associates. Following its Apollo triumphs, NASA was actively planning Mars expeditions. My year at MIT since leaving the government had convinced me that there was little public support for such an endeavor. The views expressed in my letter were not fully accepted.


Dear Mr. Vice President:
The Department of Defense has carried out a comprehensive study of the various opportunities for using space technology to enhance national security. Options for increased space activity have been carefully reviewed by the Services, the Joint Chiefs, and the offices of the Secretary of Defense, and are the basis for a report that is being transmitted to you by Secretary Laird. As a member of your [243] Space Task Group, I am writing this letter to give you certain of my own personal views.
Rocketry and advanced electronics have permitted us to accomplish unique missions in this decade. The landing of the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon and their safe return to earth is the crowning achievement. However, NASA and DoD have accomplished many other highly significant missions that are important for scientific, technical and operational reasons....
We should capitalize on NASA's great scientific and technical capability to the maximum extent possible. By this I mean that NASA should wherever possible carry out work of direct relevance to man here on earth. ESSA [now NOAA] of the Department of Commerce needs assistance to understand and predict the weather more accurately for longer periods of time. The Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture need support that can be supplied by satellites if they are to carry out their responsibilities in such fields as oceanography, hydrology, agriculture, ecology, etc. However, I am not only thinking of further satellite development, but also the use of NASA's capability wherever pertinent to current national problems.
NASA should put increased emphasis in aeronautics. We, in the Department of Defense, have need for greater effort by NASA to support us in the development of military aircraft. The Department of Transportation needs major support if they are to implement a new air traffic control system....
The applications of the NASA program are far reaching and considerably more effort should be expended to make the results available for the benefit of mankind....
In a continuing manned lunar landing program it is important to proceed on a careful step-by-step basis reviewing scientific information from one flight before going to the next and using unmanned spacecraft where appropriate....
The present Apollo Applications Program including relatively few missions should be expanded to include longer duration flights and a wider variety of orbits....
I recommend that we embark on a program to study by experimental means including orbital tests the possibility of a Space Transportation System that would permit the cost per pound in orbit to be reduced by a substantial factor (ten times or more)....
Even though the development of a large manned space station [244] appears to be a logical step leading to further use and understanding of the space environment, I do not believe we should commit ourselves to the development of such a space station at this time....
The unmanned planetary program should be expanded to include more thorough investigation of Mars and Venus, as well as exploration of the more distant planets.
I don't believe we should commit this Nation to a manned planetary mission, at least until the feasibility and need are more firmly established....
Let us take the initiative and use the good will, the momentum and the skills demonstrated in Apollo to help solve many of our problems at home and abroad. But let us not give up exploration, rather let us also continue our exploration while validating its benefit to all mankind.


April 1 and 5, 1971: My mid-term letter to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and his response


While serving as secretary of the Air Force had its rewards, the sword of Damocles known as Vietnam was always hanging overhead. I became aware of it the first time I talked with Mel Laird, and it was in part the reason for my individual discussions with our four oldest children prior to my accepting the job. After these discussions, I checked one final time with Gene, who was hospitalized. Then I called Mel to tell him of my acceptance. To the best of my knowledge, there was no exchange of letters; rather, there was planning for an announcement-on January 6, 1969-of my appointment along with those of Stanley Resor, secretary of the Army, and John Chafee, secretary of the Navy.

I agreed to serve in the Nixon administration for a minimum of two years. At the end of that period, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dave Packard was planning to return to California, and Mel said he would recommend my nomination as Packard's replacement. As stated in Chapter 3, that didn't fly. Soon thereafter, our family headed for our annual outing at Vail, Colorado, and I vowed I would use the vacation to think and talk with family members about remaining in the Air Force. I can remember reading to Gene, Kathy, and Lou a longhand draft of a letter to Mel Laird regarding the continuation of my Air Force appointment, as the four of us drove to the airport in Denver. The contents were accepted not only by the family but, as can be seen from the April s response, by Mel Laird himself.

[245] April 1, 1971


Dear Mel:

As you noted in a recent conversation, I agreed to join this administration for a minimum of two years, and I have no regrets in that decision. Although much remains to be done, I believe we have made significant progress phasing down our activities in Southeast Asia and improving the management of our weapons systems.

You asked me for a commitment to serve another two years. I have found this decision difficult indeed. As I indicated, there are strong family pressures influencing me to leave the government after nearly ten years in NASA and the Air Force.

If I am to stay, these pressures must be more than balanced by the goals that I can help accomplish. A Service Secretary is not in the military chain of command and hence has little to say about tactical and strategic operations. Rather a Service Secretary's job is normally limited to acquiring men and material.

Before leaving the Air Force I would like to place the C-S contract with Lockheed on a sound basis, resolve the F-111 cost and technical difficulties, proceed with new programs such as the F-15, B-1, AWACS, A-X, and F-SE to the point where we can be reasonably confident in our policy of "fly before buy," and improve our military and civilian manpower policies. I believe another year would be required to make further significant progress.

In surveying the national mood, I am struck again and again by the concern in this country over our activities in SEA [Southeast Asia] and by the need for terminating our military involvement there as soon as possible. I believe a rapid phaseout is essential to the health and stability of this country. You have worked imaginatively toward this objective with your concept of Vietnamization. However, the plans for step by step closing of Air Force bases in South Vietnam and Thailand are still undetermined. I believe such plans and their implementation are more crucial to the country than any specific weapons acquisition or personnel projects.

My willingness to stay in DoD hinges on this administration's determination to terminate our military activities in SEA. If I continue as Secretary of the Air Force, I would want to have an opportunity to play a meaningful role in achieving this goal.

I will be happy to discuss this matter with you further.

Most sincerely,

Robert C. Seamans, Jr.



April 5, 1971

Honorable Robert C. Seamans, Jr.
The Secretary of the Air Force


Dear Bob:

I am pleased, and even excited, to see from your April 1 letter that you are still entertaining the idea of staying with the Defense team through 1972.1 recognize that you originally agreed to join the team for a two-year stint. I recognize, too, the personal and family sacrifices that are involved in such a demanding position as that of Secretary of the Air Force. It is nonetheless increasingly true that we need leaders of your rare capacity and demonstrated ability if we are to have any reasonable chance of attaining our major national goals in the Defense area.

It is only fair, of course, that you would want assurances concerning your role as Service Secretary during the coming months. There is no doubt in my mind that your role has been a central and significant one during the past two years. I have no doubt it will continue to be.

In a major sense, the Service Secretaries play the key role in determining and effecting our national security strategy. I have always felt that strategy was best defined as the aggregate of policies by which limited or finite resources were allocated to attain an established range of goals. The Service Secretaries can, and do, participate in a major way in determining those allocation policies-for all of the resources made available to Defense. The Service Secretaries can play an even larger role, even to the extent of helping determine the national goals and the aggregate resources to be made available to Defense. I welcome and solicit such a role by you, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of the Navy.

You are entitled to justifiable pride in the achievements of the Air Force under your stewardship for the past two years. You have made substantial progress, inter alia, in modernization of our forces, management of key weapons systems programs, personnel planning, and [247] important domestic action programs. Most importantly, you have played an instrumental part, perhaps greater than you realize, in moving our Southeast Asia programs in productive directions. You can be of continuing and even greater help in this vital area in the future. I share your conviction, as you know, that implementing the Nixon Doctrine in Southeast Asia is crucial. Your ability to help with the implementation of that Doctrine is unique, both from a personal and organizational standpoint. I assure you that you can and do play a meaningful role in achieving our Southeast Asia goals and, in particular, winding down US military participation in that war. In this role, I welcome and solicit an even greater participation on your part than in the past.

There are many tasks confronting the Air Force, the Defense establishment, and the nation which can be fulfilled only with your type of leadership. I am not so naive as to think that we will be able to discharge all those tasks in the next two years. To make the most substantive progress possible, however, I need you, the administration needs you, and the country needs you.


Mel Laird

April 10 and May 15, 1973: My letter of resignation from the Air Force and President Richard M. Nixon's response


My last six months in the Pentagon were pretty "squirrelly." As mentioned in Chapter 3, all presidential appointees were asked to resign soon after Nixon's reelection. At a meeting of the appointees in the Department of Defense, we all agreed to write one-sentence letters of resignation which the secretary of defense would hold until we truly wanted to resign. I had expected to resign earlier in the year, but when the opportunity to become president of Sloan-Kettering vanished, I decided to remain longer. As it turned out, I stayed until my appointment as president of the National Academy of Engineering.

I confess that I found the President's response to my resignation quite surprising. Nixon's chief of staff H.R. Haldemann had wanted me fired and wouldn't let me attend the special White House gala celebrating the return of [248] the prisoners of war (POWs) from Vietnam that occurred several weeks after I joined the National Academy. Furthermore, at a luncheon for the President at the Pentagon given by Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson several weeks before my resignation, Mr. Nixon had appeared upset, emotional, and at times irrational-quite a contrast to the thoughtful letter sent to me soon afterwards. Perhaps the preparation of the letter fell to those in the National Security Council at the White House with whom I still had reasonably good rapport.

April 10, 1973


My dear Mr. President,

It is with deep regret that I am submitting my resignation as Secretary of the Air Force to be effective in early May. As I have advised Secretary Richardson, the members of the National Academy of Engineering have asked me to be their next President. After careful consideration, I find the job is challenging and one that I must accept.

Of course, I know that no assignment could be more rewarding than serving in your Administration the past four years. As a result of your leadership, tremendous strides have been made lessening world tensions and creating improved understanding between nations. Although all issues have not been resolved in Southeast Asia, our ability to withdraw our military forces completely from South Vietnam, and the return of our POWs, is a tremendous accomplishment.

The modernization of weapon systems is another area that is vital to national security. Here again progress has been made that I'm certain will continue. The application of advanced technology has led to significant improvement in the capability of our military services and those of our allies.

Finally, let me say that it has been an honor to work with Secretary Laird, Secretary Richardson, and yourself on these matters that are so important to our country.

Yours respectfully,

Robert C. Seamans, Jr.



May 15, 1973

Dear Mr. Secretary:

It is with deep regret that I accept your resignation as Secretary of the Air Force, effective on May 14, 1973, as you requested.

In doing so, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your outstanding contributions to our Nation, both as Air Force Secretary and in your previous position with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We have been indeed fortunate to have a man of your leadership and managerial ability directing the development of sophisticated new aircraft and helping to improve our missile systems. In an era in which technological innovation has become increasingly costly, it is to your lasting credit that the Air Force modernization programs you initiated have remained very close to target cost estimates.

Perhaps more importantly, you have recognized the importance of the individual in the Air Force and have worked to create an environment in which each member of the Air Force team feels he can realize his potential. In that effort, as well as in the other programs you have helped shape, you have laid the foundations for a stronger, more effective Air Force for many years to come.

As you return to private life, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to express this Nation's gratitude for your distinguished service. My warmest best wishes go with Mrs. Seamans and you in your challenging new undertaking.


Richard M. Nixon


[250] January 18, 1977: My letter to James Schlesinger, assistant to the President-elect (for energy)


As my time in the government ended, I sympathized with some of my predecessors because I experienced some of their frustrations. Keith Glennan prepared himself, but never had an opportunity to share his experiences with the Kennedy administration. Similarly, I had no chance to talk with Jim Schlesinger, who was destined to become the first secretary of the Department of Energy. As I indicated in my letter to him, I was prepared to stay for a short period, and a number of congressmen hoped I would, including Speaker of the House, Thomas P. ("Tip") O'Neill.

On the night of January 17, 1977, while I was attending the first showing of my son Joe's National Geographic Society documentary about the Hokule'a, Schlesinger called. He said he had considered asking me to stay on, but had concluded that I didn't have enough political support. I tried to convey some of my thoughts "without prejudice" in the letter I wrote him the next day. It was never answered.

January 18, 1977

Dr. James R. Schlesinger
Assistant to The President-Elect
School of Advanced International Studies
Johns Hopkins University
1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036


Dear Jim:

I have submitted my resignation to be effective January 20. Although I recognized that it was unlikely that I would be asked to remain permanently in the Carter Administration, I thought I might be of assistance for a limited period until my successor was selected. This possibility was one of the reasons that prompted me to call you last week. Incidentally, l know that a number of mutual friends have contacted you regarding my status. You should know that in no case did I ask them to be an intermediary.

I also wanted an opportunity to chat with you about the nation's energy program. It is impossible to cover many points in a short letter; however, in certain circles I am categorized as a nuclear advocate against conservation. I wanted you to know first hand that I have [251] stressed the need for conservation in making decisions at ERDA and in hundreds of speeches and reports going back to "U.S. Energy Prospects: An Engineering Viewpoint" issued by the National Academy of Engineering when I was President. Conservation is, however, a difficult nettle to grasp because it impacts on and is impacted by every facet of our society. The definition, planning, and programming of conservation activities starting from scratch two years ago has been tedious, frustrating, and-at times-disappointing. Today we have a sound program and a competent dedicated staff. Their work can and should be expanded.

I am enclosing a budget sheet showing the R&D appropriation we inherited in 1975 by line item, along with the FY 76, 77, and 78 budgets for which we must take some measure of responsibility. I am also enclosing a chart from this year's planning document that shows the maximum estimated impact of energy technology in the years 1985 and 2000. Clearly, conservation is essential-but so is the expanded use of present fuels and by the year 2000 and beyond, we must rely increasingly on new fuels. The scale is quads per year which can readily be converted to millions of barrels per day simply by dividing by 2.

Although I intend to clean up my affairs and remove my junk from the office during the next week, I will take no official action after January 20th. I am delighted that you are keeping Bob Fri "without prejudice" and am certain that he will serve you well. Our line of succession goes from Bob Fri and me to the other Presidential Appointees by seniority. Hence, Jim Liverman will be the Acting Administrator from January 20 until Bob Fri returns the 23rd.

I expect to be in Washington at least for the next few months. If you care to discuss any energy issues, I will accommodate to your schedule.

Good luck and best wishes,


Robert C. Seamans, Jr.

[252] January 18 and 19, 1977: My letter of resignation from ERDA to President Gerald R. Ford, his reply, and a January 19 letter to me from Richard Roberts of ERDA


My two years as administrator of ERDA were the most hectic and jampacked of my life. It started in May 1974 when I was contacted by the White House personnel office to discuss the possibility of serving as administrator of an as-yet nonexistent agency. After a series of meetings extending over several months, I met with Frank Zarb, then in the Office of Management and Budget, later to become administrator of the Federal Energy Administration (FEA). He was convinced that the enabling legislation for ERDA would be passed by Congress and wanted me to commit to be its administrator. I told him my commitment would have to await a conversation with the President. The President turned out to be Ford, not Nixon.

I received a call asking me to appear for President Ford's announcement of my nomination on Halloween morning. When I explained that I had not yet met with the President, I had the meeting that afternoon, and the announcement was made the following day, November 1, 1974. There was no time for an exchange of letters. My meeting with President Ford is described in Chapter 4. My departure from ERDA was equally abrupt, starting with my letter of January 18, 1977, and President Ford's response the following day.

I have also included a letter from Dick Roberts (dated the same day as Ford's letter), whom I "shanghaied" from the National Bureau of Standards and who directed the most controversial ERDA department (nuclear energy).

January 18, 1977

The President
The White House


Dear Mr. President:

It has been my privilege to serve in your Administration as the Administrator of the Energy Research and Development Administration.

As you have often stated, the United States must conserve energy and develop alternate fuels in order to become less dependent 0n imported oil-an expensive and wasting resource. A major national effort is required that galvanizes government, industry, and the public into concerted, dedicated action. You have stressed the need to resolve the anticipated technical, social, economic, and [253] political issues, and have forwarded to the Congress many sound recommendations including a plan for a new Department of Energy.

Although much remains to be done in the field of energy, this is the logical time for a change in the leadership of ERDA. We have developed a strong organization with competent, professional personnel and many challenging programs. Hence it is with sadness, but a measure of satisfaction that l submit my resignation to be effective January 20, 1977.

Respectfully yours,


Robert C. Seamans, Jr.



January 19, 1977


Dear Bob:

Thank you for your letter of January 18. I, of course, accept your resignation as Administrator of the Energy Research and Development Administration, effective January 20, 1977, as you requested. In doing so, I would like to take this opportunity to commend you for the dedication and commitment you have brought to our efforts to achieve our goal of energy independence. Tremendous challenges lie ahead, but with your help and that of others in my Administration I am confident that we have laid a solid foundation for completing the enormous task which confronts our Nation.

I am indeed grateful for the contributions you have made and for the professional manner in which you have carried out your many and varied responsibilities. You will always be able to look back with great pride on your Government service and on the fine record you have compiled.

As you prepare to return to private life, you may be sure that you take with you my best wishes for every success and happiness in your future endeavors.



Gerald R. Ford

January 19, 1977


[254] Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr. Administrator


Dear Bob:

I'll never forget the day when I came down to 7th & D to sell you on the National Bureau of Standards' energy conservation programs, only to find myself sold on ERDA's nuclear programs. You gave me a great personal and professional opportunity and for this I thank you.

But of even more value to me than the importance and challenge of the job was the opportunity to work with and for you. Leadership really can't be written about-it can only be observed and experienced. In a very short period you took a disparate collection of entrenched people and programs, acquired an unusually talented group of people from many sources, established the confidence of the Congress and business community, and in a quiet yet forceful way created ERDA.

You once told me your major job was to knock down barriers so we could get the job done. This you have done well.

I have learned a great deal from you, Bob, on how to accomplish things in this infinitely complex system, such as:

- analyze, and really know where you want to go

- be flexible and resilient,

- be cool and calm with Congress,

- be prepared (super prepared!),

- be humble,

- be tenacious,

- have a thick skin (very thick!),

- smile-it helps,

- etc....

Your influence on ERDA and the national energy program has been profound. You should be very proud of ERDA's accomplishments and the organization which will remain to carry out its work.

Best wishes for success, good health and happiness! ERDA, the Country, and I, personally, will sincerely miss you.



Richard W. Roberts
Assistant Administrator for Nuclear Energy

[255] December 16, 1985: Letter to me from former President Gerald R. Ford upon his resignation from the Aerospace Corporation


Gerald Ford was such a good guy, and the experience of having a former President as a trustee during my chairmanship of the Aerospace board was so unique, that I am including this letter, written nearly nine years after the end of my government service. Aerospace Corporation is nonprofit and contracts exclusively with the Department of Defense. The corporation provides engineering and planning services for all national security activities in space. Jerry was a trustee for three years, retiring at the mandatory age of seventy-two.

At his first trustees" meeting, he arrived in the boardroom after the other trustees were in place. I walked around with him, introducing each member to "Jerry Ford." Some complained I was too informal, but he did not.

On another occasion, we were having a retirement ceremony for a key employee. Seeing a handsome, apparently new briefcase near the podium, I presented it to the retiree. It wasn't until after the departure of the retiree following the ceremony that Jerry indicated that he would like his briefcase returned. This we did, buying a similar one for the retiree.

December 16, 1985


Dear Bob:

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served on the Board of Trustees of Aerospace Corporation under your leadership. It was an interesting and most enjoyable experience. Thank you for your many kindnesses.

It is my hope that our paths will cross again soon. As you know I have the highest admiration for your dedicated public service over many years in positions of highest responsibility in our federal government. Most of all, I am indebted to you for your superb service in my White House Administration.

On a personal basis, I deeply appreciate your friendship which I treasure.

Warmest, best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season for you and your family.


Jerry Ford