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Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold

From his days as a flight student of the Wright Brothers to commanding general of the Army Air Forces, Arnold had enjoyed a lengthy career by the time of The American Legion's 1944 convention. One of three recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal that year, Arnold was honored for his "outstanding contributions to the cause of national defense and the development of American air power," and expansion of the Army Air Forces from 21,000 in 1938 to a war strength of 2.4 million in 1944.

"Hap," short for "Happy," thanked convention delegates for the Legion's support of air power. "Now we are all facing another problem," he said. "I refer to that of helping the discharged soldier resume his place in civilian life. We are not putting off this problem till Johnny comes marching home. Johnny is here. Nearly a million men have already been honorably discharged from the service, and more are on the way.

"The Army Air Forces has accepted the rehabilitation of the war-weary flier as a major responsibility, but we need the help of every American citizen when that flier returns to civilian life. That is where you come in . These fliers do not want sympathy when they return. They want to work. They need new responsibilities which require them in a different way to continue to deliver the goods."

As one of the United States' first military pilots, Arnold took charge of the Army Air Corps in 1938 and was eventually promoted to five-star general. In 1947, one of his longtime goals was met when the Air Force became a separate branch of the armed services.

Arnold's accomplishments prompted a group of University of Cincinnati cadets to push for an honorary society supporting aerospace power. In 1947, they founded the Arnold Society of Air Cadets. The newly independent Air Force officially recognized the society a year later.

The father of U.S. air power died in January 1950, at 63. For more on Arnold, click here (http://www.usu.edu/afrotc/history.htm).

 

View more Distinguished Service Medal recipients

 

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