Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Power, Thomas Sarsfield (1905–1970)

U.S. Air Force general and commander of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during 1957–1964. Born in New York City on 18 June 1905, Thomas Power took only a few night courses at Cooper Union and City College of New York before attending the Air Corps Flying School in 1928. He was commissioned in 1929. He served in a number of flight positions in the United States and was an engineering and armaments officer in the Philippines during the 1930s. In World War II, he piloted B-24 Liberators in North Africa and Italy and commanded the 314th Bomb Wing and flew B-29 Superfortresses against Japan. Appointed deputy chief of operations for U.S. Strategic Air Forces on 1 August 1945, he helped direct the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Following the war, Power served as assistant deputy commander of the task force that conducted nuclear tests at the Bikini Atoll. In 1948, he became the vice commander of SAC, serving until 1954 when he was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in command of the Air Research and Development Command. He returned to SAC as a full general and its commander in 1957, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1964. During his SAC tenure, he directed the Joint Strategic Planning staff, which developed a coordinated Single Integrated Operations Plan for all U.S. strategic nuclear forces. Power was a strong proponent of strategic bombardment, nuclear deterrence, and massive retaliation. He was instrumental in shaping SAC's alert program and the survivable command and control system, including the airborne presidential command post known as Looking Glass. He also supported an extensive military role in space. For six years after his military retirement, he served as the chairman of the Board for the Schick Corporation. Power died at Palm Springs, California, on 6 December 1970.

Jerome V. Martin


Further Reading
Power, Thomas S. Design for Survival. New York: Coward-MCann, 1964.
 

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