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Hap Arnold - FU Hero

Posted by admin on November 29, 2008



Henry "Hap" Arnold was one of the truly great men in American airpower and considered to be the father of the United States Air Force. Taught to fly by the Wright brothers, he rose steadily in rank and responsibility throughout the 1920s and 30s and became the commanding general of the Army Air Forces (AAF) during World War II. In 1944 he was promoted to General of the Army (five stars), but his health was very poor and he suffered five heart attacks during the war.  He retired six months after Japan surrendered. 

Graduating from West Point in 1907, Arnold had hoped to join the cavalry. However, he was refused that request.  Arnold then applied for the Signal Corps and became one of America's first military pilots worldwide, and the second rated pilot in the history of the United States Air Force. He overcame a fear of flying that resulted from his experiences with early flight, oversaw the expansion of the Air Service during World War I, and became a protégé of Gen. Billy Mitchell, all of which at times nearly ended his aeronautical career.  Evidently he was not one to sugar coat his positions pertaining to the future of air power and was constantly butting craniums with those acting as obsticles to progress.

Arnold became a powerful advocate for creation of an independent Air Force and played a key role in the political struggles over it with the hierarchies of the United States Army and United States Navy. He rose to command the Army Air Forces immediately prior to U.S. entry into World War II and directed its expansion into the largest and most powerful air force in the world. An advocate of research and development, Arnold's tenure saw the development of the intercontinental bomber, the jet fighter, the extensive use of radar, global airlift, and atomic warfare as mainstays of modern airpower.

The source of his nickname "Hap" was short for "Happy," a nickname his aunt came up with.  Arnold Engineering Development Center, the world's largest and most advanced aeronautical testing and research base, is named for General Arnold.  The honorary organization in Air Force ROTC, the Arnold Air Society, is named in his honor, as is the cadet social center at the United States Air Force Academy, Arnold Hall. The Air Force Research Laboratory generally recognizes Arnold as the visionary who first articulated that superior research and development capabilities are essential to deterring and winning wars. Arnold's ideas underpin the Laboratory's modern-day role within the Air Force.

 

On May 7, 1949, Arnold was honored by being made the first, and to date, only General of the Air Force. He is also the only American to serve in five-star rank in two military services. He died January 15, 1950, at his home. He was given a state funeral in Washington D.C. that included rare services held in Arlington Memorial Amphitheater and is buried in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery right next to another American Hero, Joe Louis.  His friends said the location was perfect as Hap was always looking for a good fight.  The faculty at FU is proud to enshrine General Hap Arnold as a bonified FU Hero.

 

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