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“When You Get a Job to Do, Do It”: The Airpower Leadership of Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner

“When You Get a Job to Do, Do It”: The Airpower Leadership of Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner published on

Authored by Air University Air Command and Staff College

Throughout the brief history of military aviation and the United States Air Force, there have been many great leaders. Several, such as Mitchell, Foulois, Spaatz, and Arnold, built the foundation for military aviation and championed an independent air force. Others, such as LeMay, Quesada, and Schriever, shaped the Air Force and developed specific elements of air and space power.1 While these leaders tend to be revered and studied by military professionals attending Air Force advanced education programs, Lt Gen William H. Tunner and his contributions to the airlift element of airpower do not receive similar attention and are typically underappreciated. Thus, a question arises: Was Tunner a successful Air Force leader? This question is answered using a framework that builds upon current Air Force leadership doctrine to examine and critique Tunner’s military career during the interwar years, World War II, and early Cold War.

Gen Curtis LeMay described Tunner as “the transportation expert to end transportation experts.”2 As a graduate of the US Military Academy in 1928, Tunner pursued a career in aviation and gained valuable experience as an Army Air Corps pilot, leader, and staff officer during the interwar period. In 1941, this experience landed him a job on the staff of the newly formed Ferrying Command, which held the critical responsibility of moving aircraft from US factories to American and Allied combat units overseas. A year later, when Ferrying Command was expanded and reorganized into Air Transport Command (ATC), Tunner was chosen to command Ferrying Division. These early experiences and leadership opportunities provided Tunner with a strong foundation in air mobility.

Publication Date:
Oct 26 2014
1502958104 / 9781502958105
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11”
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / Military / Aviation


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