When Admiral Harry Felt, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, asked Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to "put me through to the Commander-in-Chief" to authorize a rescue, he chose his words carefully. He "asked"—but would not have been refused; and he referred to President Lyndon B. Johnson as the "Commander-in-Chief"—not "the President."
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in Hawaii on 5 June 1964. My family and I had spent a day at the beach; we were working Saturdays, and it meant a lot. I was the Assistant Current Air Operations (Navy, J-3116) on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CinCPac), then Admiral Harry D. Felt. For those who haven't served on a major staff, my four-digit designator put me well down on the totem pole. As one of the few Navy pilots on the staff with any recent fleet experience, however, I wound up in the middle of things when the air war in Southeast Asia expanded.