John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center
About the presentation:
General William ‘Billy’ Mitchell is considered the founder of the US Air Force. He learned to fly at Curtiss Flying School in Newport News, Virginia. Armed with his pilot wings, he went to France in 1917 and, due to his outstanding leadership traits, eventually became brigadier general as Chief of Air Service, US Third Army. He was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Service during the post-WWI era and pushed for the acceptance of air power as the best way to defend America’s shores. To test his idea, Mitchell organized a strike force at Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, using his command to sink several battleships with bombs. He was highly critical of Army and Navy leadership for choosing to invest in battleships, not aircraft carriers. In 1925, he was court-martialed for insubordination and later resigned from service.
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