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Transcript of interview with Howard & Dorothy Cannon by K.J. Evans, September 28, 1998






On September 28, 1998, K.J. Evans interviewed former United States Senator Howard Cannon (born 1912 in St. George, Utah) about his life and political experiences. Also present were his wife, Dorothy Cannon, his daughter, Nancy Downing, and another participant identified as Caroline Rose. Cannon first talks about his family background and his parents’ occupations before mentioning his involvement in a music band and his pastime of flying aircraft. He then discusses his first political involvement and mentions his work for the Las Vegas City Attorney’s Office. Evans then asks about Cannon’s service with the Air National Guard and his combat experiences during World War II, specifically on D-Day. The interview then moves to a discussion on some of the work Cannon fulfilled as a senator, particularly military-based projects and black projects, and his work in creating Nellis Air Force Base. Evans later asks Cannon questions about his interaction with presidents, his thoughts on the Vietnam War, his support for civil rights, and his politically liberal stance as a lawmaker. Cannon also provides details on his relationships with Senators Walter Baring and Alan Bible, his interaction with Lyndon B. Johnson, and his campaign against Chic Hecht.

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Cannon, Howard & Dorothy Interview, 1998 September 28. OH-00332. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon i An Interview with Howard Cannon An Oral History Conducted by K.J. Evans Las Vegas Review-Journal First 100 Oral History Project Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon ii © Ralph Roske Oral History Project on Early Las Vegas University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2018 UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon iii The Oral History Research Center (OHRC) was formally established by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System in September 2003 as an entity of the UNLV University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The OHRC conducts oral interviews with individuals who are selected for their ability to provide first-hand observations on a variety of historical topics in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. The OHRC is also home to legacy oral history interviews conducted prior to its establishment. This legacy interview transcript received minimal editing, such as the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. The interviewee/narrator was not involved in the editing process. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon iv Abstract On September 28, 1998, K.J. Evans interviewed former United States Senator Howard Cannon (born 1912 in St. George, Utah) about his life and political experiences. Also present were his wife, Dorothy Cannon, his daughter, Nancy Downing, and another participant identified as Caroline Rose. Cannon first talks about his family background and his parents’ occupations before mentioning his involvement in a music band and his pastime of flying aircraft. He then discusses his first political involvement and mentions his work for the Las Vegas City Attorney’s Office. Evans then asks about Cannon’s service with the Air National Guard and his combat experiences during World War II, specifically on D-Day. The interview then moves to a discussion on some of the work Cannon fulfilled as a senator, particularly military-based projects and black projects, and his work in creating Nellis Air Force Base. Evans later asks Cannon questions about his interaction with presidents, his thoughts on the Vietnam War, his support for civil rights, and his politically liberal stance as a lawmaker. Cannon also provides details on his relationships with Senators Walter Baring and Alan Bible, his interaction with Lyndon B. Johnson, and his campaign against Chic Hecht. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 1 [Interview starts midsentence] Is September 28th, 1998. We are at the home of Howard and Dorothy Cannon, appropriately located near the airport. And we’re with former Senator Howard Cannon, his wife, Dorothy, his daughter Nancy Downing, and Caroline— Caroline Rose. Okay. We’re going to start out by—we’ll try and do this in chronological order. I’ve heard that you’re second generation English, and that your mother and father have converted to the LDS [Latter-day Saints] faith in England? Well, I don’t know whether that’s true or not. You don’t? I don’t— It would have been his grandparents. Your grandparents came from England? Yes. My grandpa (unintelligible) Grandparents were converted in Liverpool and came to the U.S. to be with the Mormons. And do you have any idea of about when that was? Yes. That would have been—pages out of order—in the mid-1800s when, just before Brigham Young was assassinated, they came (unintelligible). You mean Joseph Smith? Joseph Smith, excuse me. Okay. So, the Cannons were part of the migration? Yes. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 2 Okay. Extraordinary men often have extraordinary fathers or mothers. I wanted to see if you would tell me what kind of people your parents were, and what did they teach you that shaped you as a man? Well, they taught me all of the things that I should know, I guess. Of course, we had a big family. How many? Oh, we had Ramona and Evelyn and— You’re talking about your immediate family? Yes, I was talking about (unintelligible). Evelyn and Ramona. And Ramona, yes. Those are your sisters. Two sisters—so, there were three children in the family? That’s right. Were you the oldest, the youngest, or the middle one? I was the oldest. You were the oldest? Mm-hmm. Okay. And I saw a short biography that mentioned that your father was a rancher and a banker. Yes. My dad was a rancher and a banker, and— He was postmaster for a long time. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 3 And he was the postmaster of St. George for quite a while. And then, let’s see—and he was a rancher (unintelligible) I don’t know—do you remember? The dairy farm for a while. Huh? He had a dairy farm for a while? Yes, he had a dairy farm for a while. He was a versatile man, huh? Yes, he was. Well, what do you know about his ventures in the banking, or is that true that he was in the banking business? Yes, he was a banker himself. Was that late in his life, or? No. No? Well, no, I’d say it was— (Unintelligible) I don’t know how to describe that further. He was a— What did your mother do? What does my mother do? What did your mother do? Just take care of the house and the kids? Well, of course, mother is— What did she do when you were growing up, just help with the ranch or anything? Helping with the ranch. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 4 Was it during that time that she was active with the Mormon Temple? Yes, she was active in the Mormon Temple. She worked a couple days a week at the temple. Uh-huh. For years, twenty-something years as I— Is your family, in general—been active in the church? Well, not always. I wouldn’t say they always have. They’re as active as I have been in the church. I guess, would you say that they’ve been active, that I’ve been active—I’ve been active in a lot of church things. They were more so in the early years there while living in Utah. Mm-hmm. Been very active. Do you remember your dad having any interest in politics at all? Not my dad having any particular interest in politics. He was interested in farming and he was interested in—he was interested in— Busy politicking (unintelligible)— He was interested in a lot of things that he helped out with the, helped out other families’ members and helped— He was active in the community? Yeah, he was active in the community. He was active in the bank. He was in the bank a considerable time. If you wanted to back a generation, they were more politically active. Oh, okay. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 5 Pardon? The family that came from England, the children of the first two who came from England were very politically active. One of them would be Howard’s grandfather’s oldest brother. Whose name was? His name was George Hugh Cannon. Okay. And he was a territorial delegate to the House of Representatives in 1872 before Utah was a state. Oh, okay. And then his brother, Angus, who moved out to St. George was the first mayor of St. George. Okay. Good. I didn’t have that. Those are (unintelligible)— What was that? About some of your forbearers that were involved in politics. Oh. Now, I’ve heard that, as a young man, you played a pretty hot saxophone. I was a very good saxophonist. And you had your own dance band and you even went professional for a while, or early on. Right. Could you tell me a little bit about your experiences as a travelling musician at that time? You ever play any really rough joints or anything like that? (Unintelligible) Did you ever play in any really rough kind of places? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 6 Oh, yes, yes, sure. We played some rough places. The ones that you took the cruise for. Well, I took the cruise for the ocean doors. Well, who sponsored you? Who sponsored me? I sponsored myself. I got myself a job playing with the dance band. Where did the cruise ship go, didn’t go to the Orient? Yes, the cruise ship went to— To Yokohama. Went to—huh. It went to Japan. Yokohama, Japan. Yeah, it went to Yokohama. Right, and back to Seattle. And I went to Tokyo. Let’s see, Yokohama, Tokyo—I just don’t— Took a picture with—your band was the ship’s orchestra? The ship (unintelligible). That’s right. What was the name of your band? Howard Cannon and His Orchestra. Oh. (Laughs) Very original, huh? That was before bands had to have weird names. (Laughs) That’s right. I have a picture here that I found in UNLV’s Special Collections—do you have his reading glasses? I want to show it to him. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 7 Keeps ‘em down there. Do you remember that picture? What’s that? Motorcycle—I had a motorcycle, too, at one time. What kind of motorcycle was that, do you remember? Harley-Davidson. All right. (Laughs) Did you ever have a crash on it, or? No. (Laughs) (Laughs) (Unintelligible) (Unintelligible) picture from your family album, you can get at UNLV, and all they charge us for is paper. Oh, thank you. It says, “Howard Cannon on a motorcycle in St. George, Utah, 1931. Later, he was senator from Nevada.” Should we get you another one, another motorcycle? They can make a new one? Yeah, I’d like to have another motorcycle. You cut a pretty dashing figure on a full (unintelligible) Harley. I sure would, I sure would. (Laughs) (Laughs) Now, I have this mental image of you as a young guy. You really were taken with the glamour of flying aviation early on, it seems like motorcycles, and you blew a sax with a bunch of swinging cats—that doesn’t sound like the typical, nice Mormon country boy to me. Were you wild when you were young? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 8 Well, not particularly wild, I guess. I played a good saxophone, and as a matter of fact, we can’t find the saxophone now. Oh. We’ve lost it somewhere in the transcription of whatever it is. But we’ve lost the saxophone, the saxophone and the clarinet. I think I can trace the clarinet, and I believe that I may be able to trace the saxophone. What about the clarinet? Well, I’m a little less sure about the clarinet. You kinda lived a little dangerously, ‘cause you used to break wild horses, too? Oh, yes. I was in the horse breaking business. Oh, you were? Myself. The little rodeo? I rodeo’d and rode horses and broke horses and just—it was a habit with me just, just a habit (unintelligible). Of breaking horses? Of breaking horses. You did it for the pleasure of doing it? That’s right. I did it for the pleasure of, and did it and broke them—rode them and broke them—it was a habit with me. Maybe, you mean more like a hobby, but then you made a living delivering newspapers for a while on horseback? Oh, yes. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 9 I have a question about (unintelligible)— I— Queenie, wasn’t Queenie the horse’s name? The longest horse that I had was Queenie. And I had a number of horses. Diablo was one of my horses, and Queenie and— What was the (unintelligible)—? You mean the big one, the one that I had the longest time? Well, that was— Sunrise. Sunrise. [Nancy] Yes, but that was not way back then. That was more recent. [Dorothy] I don’t mean that one—the one that threw its head in the air when (unintelligible)— The one what? When he came back from the war, we went down to, oh, I don’t know exactly where it was, but it was where this horse was in the (unintelligible). The farm. And he’d been away for, oh, a long, long time. Yeah. And he whistled and this horse threw its head in the air and came running as fast as it could run to him. [Nancy] But it had gone blind in the meantime. It had gone, had a defect in the yes, had an eye defect. But it recognized your voice, didn’t it? Recognized my voice and came on the run. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 10 I’d like to talk about airplanes, a subject I know is near and dear to your heart. Can you recall the first time that you ever went up in an airplane and what kind of airplane it was, and most of all, can you remember what kind of an emotional response it gave you? How did you react to it, to the sensation? Well, I reacted, typical reaction of a young kid learning how to fly, and did that—went to a lot of places, did a lot of things. But your very first experience flying, the first time you ever went up in an airplane, can you remember that? Yes, I remember that. Can you tell me a little bit, whose airplane, and when and where? I can’t tell you whose airplane it was. I don’t remember. I think it was just a transient airplane. But I flew a lot of times after that, and I then was a player with the clarinet and the saxophone with a fellow by the name of John Milner. [Nancy] That was your roommate at the University of Arizona. That’s right. He was my roommate at the University of Arizona. And he had a plane. And his dad bought him a plane and used that for he and I to fly. And you delivered newspapers out of the plane. And we delivered newspapers in the airplane. We had quite a lucrative business with the newspaper business because we just flew a lot. Do you drop them in bundles and—? Dropped them in bundles, we dropped them in—we’d use a big bush as a target and we’d fly over low and slow over the bush and drop the bundles into the bushes, and we dropped them UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 11 where they could be easily picked up and found by the kids who were the carriers who then made the delivery points from that point on. What newspaper was that? It was the Deseret News. Tucson Citizen. Tucson Citizen, excuse me. It was the Deseret News— On horseback. Oh, okay, so you delivered the Deseret News by— Horseback, and then— And the Tucson paper by air. By air. This is when he was at the University of Arizona getting his law degree. So you and I do actually have something in common in journalism. During the time that you were delivering papers by air, did you and Mr. Milner ever have any close shaves or mishaps? No. No? No. Uneventful, huh? No. Pretty uneve—it was uneventful, mostly, and we had— [Nancy] You didn’t have any scary times landing or anything? No, we didn’t have any scary times landing. He and I had a scary time or two going where we wanted to go. John had the elder on me on the flying game, and then later on, he married a girl UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 12 that he had gone to school with. And he married that girl—she was a, what do you call—well, anyway, she was a, went around, did a lot of flying with the two of us, and— Sounds like you enjoyed it. Oh, we enjoyed it. [Dorothy] She (unintelligible) your hostess. We made a little money at it, and so to us, it was a livelihood and made us a livelihood. Well, from what biographical material I read on you, it all says the same thing that, from your very earliest years, you had your heart set on a career in the law, that you pursued that no matter what else may have sidetracked you—airplanes, for instance. Was your idea, then, to be a practicing trial lawyer, or were you even then thinking about politics? No, I wasn’t even then thinking about politics. Of course, I don’t know how—I guess maybe I just sorta sloughed off into politics (unintelligible) I’m not sure. I think Jack Gorman was the first one that got you very interested in politics. Yeah, Jack was one of the fellows that got me first interested in politics. Now, who is he? Well, he was the fellow that became my administrative assistant at one time. Okay. And where did you meet him? I met him in the political field. Okay. And he was my— He first got you interested in the city attorney. Well, yes, he got me interested in the Las Vegas City Attorney. Okay. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 13 That’s all it took. Didn’t you also hold an office while you were in St. George? [Nancy] With the legislature. [Caroline] The reference attorney for Utah State Senate. Reference attorney for the Utah State Senate. Right, 1940. I worked for the Utah State Senate and covered— But you became acquainted with some of the political processes? I became acquainted very much with the political process and the process of—I don’t know what, just how to say that, but— Lawmaking and different— The process of lawmaking and the process of, Jack Conlin and I, together being— You had a lot of ideas about early Las Vegas together, didn’t you? Yes. Like, you had a kind of a vision? [Dorothy] We lived here a long time. [Caroline] No, that was after the war, though, where Jack Conlin enters the picture. That was after the war that Jack Conlin became an influence—after you came back from the war and married Dorothy, right, and moved to Las Vegas? Yes. That’s when you met Jack. Well, I met Jack before that. Oh, you did? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 14 Yes. Okay. Didn’t I meet Jack before that? [Dorothy] It was before that I thought (unintelligible) [Nancy] But he didn’t start getting you interested in politics till the city attorney days, like in the middle— No, that was when I started getting into politics, was with the city attorney days and that sort of— He got you interested in business community. That’s right. And kind of working together. Jack got me interested in— Politics and business. In the business community. [Dorothy] That was just as Las Vegas began to grow, lots of growing pains. [Nancy] He was in the insurance field, I think, and he knew a lot of businesspeople. Yes. But, in turn, met you and respected you and encouraged you to become involved. That’s right. And what did he do? [Audio cuts out] (Unintelligible) [Caroline] He helped you with the first Senate campaign and went to Washington with you. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 15 Yes. He was working in my first elected campaign, and we carried out that campaign, and then followed with—through itself. I have another airplane question. And this is a question I always ask pilots, and it’s—you’ve flown a lot of airplanes, a lotta different kinds of airplanes—what airplane did you enjoy flying the most just in terms of the pure pleasure of flight? Oh, I’d say probably just the pure pleasure of flying—stunting airplanes. That was about the full pleasure of it. [Nancy] You flew stunt airplanes, did acrobatics? Yes, I did acrobatics, I did a lot of acrobatics. When were you doing that? Oh, I did that when I was—well, I just don’t know how to define when I did— Was it before you went to law school or after? It was during and before. Oh, okay. During and before when I went to law school. Maybe you weren’t supposed to be doing acrobatics in those airplanes. I’m lucky I’m here. Were you a part of a group of exhibition fliers, or? No. Or just did it on your own? No, we just did that on our own. Did you have your own plane? We had our own plane. We had the plane that Johnny Milner—his dad came up with. Oh, okay. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 16 And furnished the airplane for us. And so, we were just— That was a WACO. Is that a biplane or a model plane? It’s a biplane. Okay, so it’s aerobatic. Aerobatic biplane, and we flew in a lot of aviation shows. We’d go and find out where there was a show going on and we’d go in it and fly in it and graduate from that. Did you have a signature stunt or stunt that was—? No. You were especially good at? No, no. Just—oh, and then of course, later on, I came about later on to signatures with signature type flying and that sort of facility. Mm-hmm. Howard, I read that that plane burned up. Did that plane crash or burn up somehow, the WACO? No. I read that somewhere. I don’t know. That doesn’t ring a bell? And then after that, you got a Stearman. Oh, okay. A Stearman biplane replaced that. Okay. I don’t know any more details than that. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 17 Stearman—now that’s a hot rod, isn’t it? Stearman is a little faster. And then, of course, later on, I came on to graduate in the flying business and did a lot of exhibition flying and that sort of thing. And training—you trained pilots in the Army Air Corps? Well, I trained some of ‘em, but— Next question, I’m gonna jump ahead: you were in the forefront of the move to deregulate the airline industry. And that had the effect of lowering airline fares on one hand and putting some airlines out of business on the other. In retrospect, do you think that deregulation served Nevada well? Well, deregulation served Nevada excellent. How so? Just excellent—it was just, we followed up on the deregulation bit with what we needed to follow up on. Did you see deregulations as being something that would benefit the tourism industry? Oh, absolutely. And did you see the results afterward? Absolutely. The results came pretty hard afterwards. This next one’s about the SST [supersonic transport]. Like yourself, I was fascinated by it, and I was in favor of it, and I didn’t give a damn about the noise. My question for you is, do you think that was a good project, I mean, considering the changing economics of the airline industry? Yes, I think it was an excellent program. Do you think there’s still a place for it in the nation’s (unintelligible)? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 18 I think there’s still a place for it and a place where it could wealth it in. You do? Yes, definitely. And I suppose I’ll carry that to my grave if I go to the grave. (Laughs) I’m gonna jump backwards now because this next set of questions is under the heading of military. Please correct me if I’m wrong here, but you were enlisted in the Utah National Guard well before Pearl Harbor—is that so? That’s correct. I enlisted as a member of the Utah National Guard, and then carried out my Guard duty and I eventually became chairman of the—it wasn’t chairman—I was— Well, they put out a request for pilots, didn’t they, within there and that’s how they found you? That’s how they requested and got pilots that way, and got them flying, and of course we flew and flew quite a lot, quite a bit. When you were in the National Guard, though, initially, you weren’t flying? Yes. Oh, you were? I was. Oh, so it was the Air National Guard. Yes. Oh, okay. And is that why you joined was for the opportunity to—? Well, I had the opportunity and took it and got in there, enlisted, and—I don’t know what to say. Do you remember—did you see, at that time, and this was before Pearl Harbor—did you see a war coming? Well, I saw it coming, yes. Did that have anything to do with why you were enlisted? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 19 No. No? No. I was just enlisted and fell into that spot, and I enlisted and graduated up the line and played for that particular operation, and I— The rest is history, huh? Yeah, well— Do you get out much to see movies? No, I don’t get out and see movies very much. I was gonna ask you if you’d seen Saving Private Ryan. My husband has. No. It’s a new film about D-Day. I didn’t see that. He saw that from the air, he saw that from above. Yeah, that’s why I ask. I’ve heard a lot of World War II veterans interviewed that said it was just too real—which brings us to the next question. I read in amazement—and I really mean that, in amazement—about the story of your experience in 1944 when you were dropping paratroops over an iron bridge. Mm-hmm. In Holland, and getting shot down and spending over forty-two days working your back to the American lines through hostile territory. Mm-hmm. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 20 You know, it seems to me, an experience like that must change a man. I mean, you see the very best and the very worst of human nature all the same place and time, don’t you? Well, I don’t know. We just—this was— [Dorothy] That was his copilot. [Nancy] Those were taken after you went, after Holland was liberated, right? Yes, this was after we got back. Those were some of the places you hid. Those are the places that we hid out and struck out to get clear and got clear. [Caroline] You know that before that he was in the Normandy Invasion as well? What? No, this I didn’t know. Howard flew one of the lead planes into Normandy on June 6th. Could you tell about that? This is the first I’ve heard about that—on D-Day, that you flew one of the first planes in? Oh, yes. See, we were called back to England to fly out of England, and we flew from that point. And when we dropped here, we dropped the airplane, dropped the— [Dorothy] Paratroopers. Dropped the airplanes there and made the dropping over here, and then came back and flew out into England. [Nancy] On D-Day, though, you were the early wave of planes that dropped the paratroopers behind the line to create diversions. Yes, that’s right. So that they could land on the beach. That’s right. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 21 And they went behind, about doing their business with the bridges and taking care of the roads and trying to block off the enemy access to the beaches, and so you were very early. It was still dark, right? Yes. You dropped even before the sun came up. Well, what were you flying then? C-47s. The planes that you came in early in June? Well, we came in with the—well, I’ll have to start telling you a little further back. Oh, please do. We stopped—when we started to spearhead our drop point, we got to spearheading down and then went ahead and flew those airplanes on in. And we flew the airplanes in different waves, that they called it, and you got the waves in and then you followed up and got in and did the firing on the firing line out beyond where we had intended to be. We were— You were being fired upon. Pardon? You were being fired at by the Germans, too? Oh, yes. We were fired upon by the Germans. And they were accompanied by British fighter pilots who were protecting their cargo plane to get them in to drop the paratroopers. So, you were flying a C-47—not a particularly fast plane. No. Right into the German lines? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 22 Into France. Well, right over them—right in them and over them. And then, when we got in, we got out as fast as we could—did a 180 and back out of the lines. But that one time when you were out over the ocean and some—was your engine hit or—your engine hit and then you had to bail out? Well, the engine, when I got hit, I had to bail out I bailed out with a paratroop, and then landed behind the lines, and that helped get me an escape route to get back into the background. That was the Holland experience, but I was— [Caroline] That was the only time. [Nancy] That was the only time you had to bail out? That was the only time I had to bail out, that’s right. And you had never jumped from a plane before? Never jumped from a plane before. It’s funny you wouldn’t have practiced that, but you never did. That first flight in before the ground troops had even come onto the beach, that sounds like a terribly dangerous mission. Onto the beach? No, I mean, you coming in prior to their landing. Well, it was a little hazardous. Yeah. (Laughs) Boy, that’s an understatement. Here’s just a theoretical question since I would call you a military scholar. At the end of the European War, do you think Patton should have been allowed to engage the Red Army in attempt to take the USSR and ultimately China like he wanted to do? UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 23 No, I was the supporter of what we did. And Patton—we had him on our tail furnishing routes through and furnishing—I don’t know, I’m not very clear in that—we kept on with our flying mission and our mission to supply Patton, we supplied Patton at a very marked increase in power. So, we got a real good increase in firepower and— But you didn’t think Patton’s ideas—you weren’t for him continuing on? Well, right in the face of it, we were right struck in the face of it and wanted to get it out and get behind us. I can certainly understand that. While in the Senate, I’ve read that you made it a point to fly military aircraft before you evaluated appropriations for their development. You wanted to check them out personally for yourself before you made any decision. Yes. Could you talk about some of the modern military aircraft that you were involved in developing, like the F-15 and F-111? Yes, the F-15, the F-111—all of those we flew. We flew over necessity, and so that was just about all you could say is that we flew some that we shouldn’t have been flying, probably— Were there a few clinkers in the bunch? Oh, yes, there were a few clinkers. Didn’t you have to fly, also, to keep your hours as part of the Reserve, the Air Force Reserve? Do I have that? Yes. You also flew to keep your hours current. Yeah, I keep my flying time up. By doing that also. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 24 But do you think that the fact that you were the chair of this committee that was in charge of overseeing, you know, the development of military aircraft and the fact that you were a pilot yourself, and a military pilot at that, do you think that made you more effective in that job? Oh, definitely. Everybody seems to think it did. Definitely, because it’s, you know, you were taking on that flight, just taking a step further, and going another step further. So you were able to see it both from the military and the political perspective? Yes. The other—well, actually, we were involved in the military and the political end. Right. And we would grow in one route and then end up going in another route, and so it was—well, I don’t know how to say beyond that. Have some of that water that Senator Cannon brought us. (Laughs) (Laughs) I’m sure you were aware of Lockheed’s work on the black projects? Very well, very well. I was helper or developer of Lockheed’s work. Oh, really? Mm-hmm. Now, were you still in office when they were developing the F117? Yes. Oh, you were? Yeah. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 25 Did you ever go out to Groom Lake and take a look at it beforehand? Many times. Many times? Many times. What was your opinion—“This thing’ll never get off the ground,” what? (Laughs) Well, no. Sometimes I was afraid it wouldn’t get off the ground. Yeah, I know they had some troubles initially. But it was—the Groom Lake project was a very big project, and we got—well, I— Do you remember any details of it, all the secret parts? Well, yes, I remember a lot of the details of it, but I don’t think a lot of ‘em I should be talking about. Oh, yeah, I understand that. Darn, we wanted to hear the secret stuff. I thought it was a terribly cool plane, anyway. (Laughs) (Laughs) There are some people who criticize the fact that the military has a black budget for the development of these classified projects and that that’s not the American way to hide that sort of thing from the public. Do you think that the kind of secrecy that surrounds those projects in terms of nobody really even knowing how much is being spent on them—do you think that’s necessary for national security? Well, it was necessary to us, financially, that we would take an airplane, take it out, and fly it on down on the deck, so to speak, and it became a real hot flying bird, in our jargon. UNLV University Libraries Howard Cannon 26 But should it really be kept secret, is what he’s asking, from the American people, what costs to produce those? No, I don’t think that there’s much that should be kept secret now. I think it’s pretty well— You don’t think it would be a breach of national security for the budget items that are concerned with the development of the secret projects—you don’t think it would harm anything if they were made public? No. Okay. I’m gonna quote General Zack Taylor here: “Senator Cannon, along with Senator Bible, built Nellis Air Force Base,” end quote. He went on to say that the base was, in earlier days, didn’t really have a mission, and that you’re the man responsible for giving it that mission by turning it into a fighter weapons school, and important one. Can you tell me how you approach that problem? I mean, what were the circumstances—now I’m having trouble thinking (Laughs)—can you just basically tell me what you had in mind when you set about trying to improve Nellis Air Force Base? Yes, from Nellis’s standpoint, we had a mission to—a flight mission carried on and—I don’t know how much of that I could tell you