He formed the Air Force Association to “keep the gang together”.
The American air force was originally an arm of the U.S. Army. When World War II began, many air officers thought it was time to allow the air force to lead campaigns unfettered by ground leadership, but Hap Arnold, leader of the force, knew that the only way to achieve independence would...
The American air force was originally an arm of the U.S. Army. When World War II began, many air officers thought it was time to allow the air force to lead campaigns unfettered by ground leadership, but Hap Arnold, leader of the force, knew that the only way to achieve independence would be to first establish a successful record for aviation during the war. It did, yet the war’s end did not bring the hoped-for independence. Jimmy Doolittle won fame and a Medal of Honor for his 1942 raid on Tokyo, and remained in the spotlight thereafter. When the war was over, he took a leadership role in organizing air force veterans and fighting for air force independence. Both of those projects come to the fore in this letter, in which he establishes the first meeting of the new Air Force Association, while at the same time advocating an independent air force.
Typed Letter Signed on his Air Force Association letterhead, Washington, June 3, 1947, to Preston Davis, Jr., Columbus, Ohio-based publisher of the popular magazines Currents Events and My Weekly Reader. “In response to the hearty and most hospitable invitation of your fellow Buckeyes, the Air Force Association is holding its first annual convention in Columbus on September 15 and 16. It will be the first post-war reunion of the greatest group in the world – those splendid Americans who made our air force the greatest in the world and who through their efforts in every theater of war, not only shortened the war but helped to save thousands of precious lives…The primary objective of the Air Force Association is to ‘keep the gang together’ in order to strive for a better world in which all nations can live in peace and understanding with each other. Until that is achieved, we believe that America must maintain the most effective and economical military establishment possible, the accomplishment of which requires an autonomous air force, co-equal with the other services; a comprehensive and coordinated air research program; a strong aviation industry; adequate Air National Guard and an active Air Reserve…”
Doolittle got his wish and rather quickly. In September 1947, the National Security Act was passed, creating the Department of Defense, and establishing the U.S. Air Force as an independent service.
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