Chuck Yeager on War Crimes

Chuck Yeager, a great American hero, died this week at age 97. He resided in Grass Valley, California.

Yeager is best known for being the first person to break the sound barrier. He was a major character in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 classic, The Right Stuff. Indeed, Wolfe devoted a whole chapter to the man. If you think the 1983 movie of the same name was good but haven’t read the book, you have a treat in store for you. The first few pages of the chapter on Yeager are informative – and hilarious. I enjoyed the book so much that I’ve read it twice.

I’ve been a fan of Yeager for a long time. But what does this have to do with Here’s what. I’m even more of a fan because of what I read on Wikipedia about his clear thinking on war crimes.

Here’s the crucial segment:

In his 1986 memoirs, Yeager recalled with disgust that “atrocities were committed by both sides”, and said he went on a mission with orders from the Eighth Air Force to “strafe anything that moved.” During the mission briefing, he whispered to Major Donald H. Bochkay, “If we are going to do things like this, we sure as hell better make sure we are on the winning side.” Yeager said, “I’m certainly not proud of that particular strafing mission against civilians. But it is there, on the record and in my memory.”

Author: David R. Henderson

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an emeritus professor of economics in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is author of The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey and co-author, with Charles L. Hooper, of Making Great Decisions in Business and Life(Chicago Park Press). His latest book is The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund, 2008). He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, the Jim Lehrer Newshour, CNN, MSNBC, RT, Fox Business Channel, and C-SPAN. He has had over 100 articles published in Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, Red Herring, Barron’s, National Review, Reason, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Hill, and the Christian Science Monitor. He has also testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He blogs at