Based on four interviews conducted by Paul Stillwell from September 1987 through November 1987. The volume contains 351 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1990 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee must give permission for material from the oral history to be quoted or cited in a published work.
Coming from a rural background in South Carolina, Lee enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and became an aviation mechanic before entering pre-flight training. He became a naval aviator in 1943 and the following year joined the carrier Essex (CV-9), from which he flew first as a bomber pilot, then in an F6F fighter. In the postwar period, he returned to the attack role, flying SB2Cs and ADs. He completed his college education in the late 1940s, then served two combat tours in the Korean War. After postgraduate education in nuclear weapons effects, he had a tour in experimental squadron VX-3, then taught senior officers about nuclear weapons. He commanded VA-46, an A4D squadron, was on the staff of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff in Omaha, and was air group commander in the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65). He was selected for the Navy's nuclear power program by Admiral Hyman Rickover and underwent training. He commanded the amphibious warfare ship Alamo (LSD-33) just as the United States was getting involved in the Vietnam War.
Based on four interviews conducted by Paul Stillwell from 1987 through November 1988. The volume contains 371 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendix. The transcript is copyright 1990 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee must give permission for material from the oral history to be quoted or cited in a published work.
In the mid-1960s Lee served in the Pentagon as executive assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research and Development). From 1967 to 1969 he was commanding officer of the nuclear-powered carrier Enterprise (CVAN-65). A considerable part of this volume is devoted to his command of that ship, including two fatiguing combat tours off Vietnam, the Pueblo (AGER-2) crisis, the demands of Admiral Rickover, and a visit from President Lyndon Johnson. Afterward he served as head of the Office of Program Appraisal for Secretary of the Navy John Chafee. As a three-star admiral, Lee was the top-ranking naval officer at the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff. The bulk of Lee's time as a flag officer was spent in the Naval Air Systems Command, first as assistant commander for maintenance and fleet support, finally as overall commander. In the latter job, as he explains, he had an instrumental role in the development of the F/A-18 Hornet. He retired in 1976. Lee's openness and candor throughout his oral history make it a particularly valuable one.