Air Force Major General – The Man Who Predicted the Pearl Harbor Attack

Billy MitchellUS Air Force major general duties include commanding of units with the size of a whole division ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 units. The job requires people who have leadership skills and extensive military training. They do not work directly with soldiers but they delegate orders to low – ranking officers and serve as figureheads.

He is in charge of his regiment in times of war when no high – ranking official is available and work hands – on in creating and implementing strategies as delegated to him from higher officials. He can also do administrative work by assigning works to his subordinates while receiving orders from his superiors. Major generals may also perform the task of an ambassador in other countries when his regiment is stationed in that country. He can act as the United States representative especially during peace talks or any other kind of communications needed.

The father of the US Air Force and the most controversial figure in the history of the US air power is Major General William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell. He served during World War I in France and had commanded all air combat units in the said country. He was the most noted American in Europe during that time. After the war, he was appointed deputy director of the Air Service. During this time he started his support for increased investments in air power with the belief that it will become essential in future wars. He made many people in the army angry because of his arguments and criticisms and was demoted to his permanent rank as a colonel in 1925. He was court – martialed for defiance after charging the Army and Navy of deceitful administration of the national defense.

Air Force Major General Mitchell was one who of those who believed that the World War I is not the war to end war. He believed that if a nation is ambitious and wants to gain universal power, aerial power will become the most effective force in the war. And with this, he predicted the future war of the US with Japan including the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and later on was court – martialed for seven weeks. Despite the fact that the public’s opinion supported Mitchell’s idea, the court found his accusations immaterial and he as the guilty party. He was suspended for five years in active duty without pay by the court which was later amended by President Coolidge to half – pay. Mitchell chose to resign instead and spent his time writing and teaching about air power to those who would listen.

Billy Mitchell died on February 19, 1936 due to a range of illnesses including a heart condition and severe case of influenza. After his death, he was vindicated of his concepts concerning air vulnerability during war conditions.

For his contributions in the air power, President Franklin Roosevelt promoted him to the rank of major general of the Army Air Corps in 1942. This was later done again in 2005.

The Air Service during Billy Mitchell’s time used the emblem of a winged propeller. This 1 1/8 silver metal enameled coin had been the main emblem of the United States Air Force and through the years it had been redesigned in different variations. In spite of all the changes it has maintained is original distinctive meaning. The wings represent the unit’s mission through strength and power as provided by the wing. The propeller symbolizes the unit’s ability to fly anywhere, anytime when needed especially in the defense of freedom.

Air Force Major General Billy Mitchell may have become infamous because of his early aerial power predictions. This was the challenge of the challenge coin he bears. But the moment he was vindicated, his colleagues in started to improve their work based on his teachings and had become one with his ideas.

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