General Billy Mitchell
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, History of Aviation
Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, though at the end of his official military career he was reduced in rank to Colonel, was one of the greatest leaders in American military air power. Despite his court-martial and the various punishments that came with it, he was still seen over ten years later to be the visionary and great leader that he had been for his entire career and the years after until his death.
He had a rather late start to the aviation career, already 38 years old and into the General staff of the Army Signal Corps by then, yet there seemed to be no time lost despite his advanced rank. He went to France where he learned as much as he could about aviation techniques and operations. Based in France, he commanded all of the American aviators stationed there, leading a successful assault in the Saint Mihiel offensive. This led to numerous decorations, both American and foreign.
Upon his arrival back to the United States from France, it was evident that he knew what he was doing in regards to air power. He understood that to continue to be a dominating force, the United States needed to focus on and eliminate their weaknesses, such as surface fleets, which he proved were unable to withstand an air attack of any great proportion. Unfortunately in some regards and fortunately in others, he was not shy in his criticisms of other American military leaders and branches. His continuing insistence that there should be an Air Force separate of the Army seemed to fall on deaf ears, only granting him increased funding for aviation in the military and exercises in which the air power and Navy would face off, proving time and again that aviation was the future of war time capabilities.
His increased distaste for the leaders that he felt allowed the loss of our battleship led to a statement that ultimately got him court-martialed. Rather than take the abuse of...
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