Although William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell, a GW graduate, is now considered to have paved the runway for the establishment of the nation’s Air Force, it wasn’t before he was first convicted of insubordination and resigned from the military.
The Father of the Air Force, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell
(His reports were compiled and published as the book Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power—Economic and Military).
After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Mr. Mitchell went to France to set up an office for the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps, the predecessor to the U.S. Air Force. He was elevated to the temporary rank of brigadier general while commanding allied forces in the Battle of San Mihiel in 1918. During that successful offensive, Mr. Mitchell became the first American airman to fly over German lines.