William Mitchell
Billy Mitchell

Known by many to be the forefather of the american air-force, Billy Mitchell is still a somewhat obscure figure. He was not taken as seriously as he should have been during the 1920s, (this would end up leaving the American army unprepared for World War 2) he was also an exceptional pilot who earned a considerable amount of honors. Sadly though, his extreme passion for the american air program would only get him in trouble.

Billy Mitchell, Military history

William Mitchell was born in Nice, France on December 29th 1879 to an affluent family. He was able to afford flying leassons and developed an intrest in aviation. Durring the first world war he was able to prove himself and rise through the ranks an accomplishing feats many could only imagine. in 1916 mitchell was appointed to the head of the armies aviation section. following a brieplane.jpgf spell in spain as a millitary attache in 1917 mitchell was posted to the western front with the U.S. entry into the war in April. in september 1918 the entergetic and tireless mitchell planned and led a total of almost 1,500 allied aircraft during the St. mihiel offensive, the largest concentration of aircraft to that date.

his notable acheivement helped him quickly rise through the ranks in the US Military, and earned him numerous Medals, Ribbons and honors. he was even awarded a congressional gold medal, and and a distinguished service medal. Mitchell was appointed assistant cheif of the Air service in march 1919. Though accomplishing much with air power, the millitary invested little in it compared to its Navy, Billy mitchell sought to change this.

Advocation for Air Power

William Mitchell saw the oppertunitys that would arise if the american military put more funding towards the air program,heboat.jpg also sought to use Air power as an offensive technique, as oppossed to a defensive one. he believed that if we had used Air Power to remove enemys from trenches, it would have expediated the war, and helped achieve a hastier victory. Billy saw the most potential in the use of bombers, which he predicted would be commonplace in future wars.

He continued to push for air power even after the first world war had ended, believing that the Navy was soon going to become a thing of the past. in 1921, he made headlines when he sank a very powerful Naval Target, The Ostfrieslandm a very large german battleship that was not moving, Billy was successfully able to destroy this battleship, and while this earned him the admiration of those that believed in the future possibility's created by Airborne warfare, but to many supporters of Naval expansion believed this was just a way of showboating, and was a stroke of .
his intense passion for air power would end up working against him.

Court Martial

During the time in which Billy had been most advocating air power, the government continued to ignore him. when a plane crashed down due to stormy weather, (the plane contained one of his dear friends) bill was quick to blame his superiors for not listening to him, and claimed that them disregarding the air program was an "almost treasonable administration of national defecourt.jpgnse. this would greatly anger his superiors, and many believed that billy had gotten a big head, and needed to be put into his place. and while numerous members of the senate claimed that this was going against the first amendment, he was destined to be court martialed.

during his trial he was accused of going against the 96th articles of war, and though he was originally threatened of being dishonorably discharged, the court decided to lower his sentence to that of a simple demotion. billy believed that he had done nothing wrong, and was being accused by those who simply disagreed with his ideas. he was eventually found guilty. Douglas Mcarthur (who was called to be among the jury) proclaimed that finding him guilty was one of the worst decisions he had made in his entire lives, and that he remained ashamed of it for most of his life

Historical Significance

While Billy Mitchell wasnt able to make as big of a splash within the U.S Military as he may have wanted, his visions for air power would eventually become a reality. WW2 created an intense need for Airplane, and bombers, something Billy had fortold, and even though he didn't live to see it, he is remembered as being the forefather of the american air-force. when WW2 came around Billy mitchell was no longer seen as some sort of crazy prophet, but as a visionary, who saw the future of air power, years before it was to come.