Henry Harley Arnold
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1907
Engagements: • World War I (1914 - 1918)• World War II (1941 - 1945)
General of the Air Force
The Early Years
Henry Harley Arnold was born on 25 June 1886, the son of Herbert A. and Louise Arnold (nee Harley). The place of birth was Gladwyne, PA, which is northwest of Philadelphia along the Main Line. His father, Herbert, was a strong-willed physician and a member of the prominent political and military Arnold Family. His mother, Louise, was from a "Dunker" (Church of the Brethren) farm family and the first female in her family to attend high school. Henry Arnold was Baptist in religious belief, but had strong Mennonite ties through both families. However, unlike her stern husband, Louise Arnold was "fun-loving and prone to laughter," and wasn't rigid in her beliefs. Henry's "happy" demeanor was likely influenced by his mother.
Arnold attended Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA, graduating in 1903. (The athletic fields at Lower Merion are named after him.) After graduation, he planned to attend Bucknell University and then enter the Baptist ministry.
Despite the long history of military service in the Arnold family, Henry (then called Harley by the family, although his mother called him "Sunny") was not supposed to enter the Army. His older brother, Thomas, was to attend West Point and continue the Arnold family tradition of American military service that began during the War for Independence. Henry Harley, Henry's namesake and great-great-grandfather, had been a private in the Pennsylvania militia. Another relative, Peter Arnold, fought with Gen George Washington's army. Thomas G. Arnold, his grandfather, had been a nail maker who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Herbert, Henry's father, had been a physician during the Spanish-American War, serving as a surgeon in Puerto Rico in 1898. Despite this military legacy, and after attending Penn State the year prior to the West Point admission tests, Thomas rejected his parents' persistent urging to attend West Point. So it was in this way that Harley inherited the opportunity to carry on the family's military heritage.
Because of Thomas' defiance of his parents' wish for him to enter West Point, Harley took the entrance examination and placed second on the list. When the nominated cadet confessed to being married (a violation of academy regulations), Arnold received a delayed appointment.
In July 1903, Arnold entered the U.S. Military Academy as a "Juliette" (one month late), having just turned 17. [At West Point he acquired the nickname 'Hap,' which was short for happy; it also reflected his less than serious approach to life at the academy.] His cadet career was spent as a "clean sleeve" (cadet private). At the academy, he helped found the "Black Hand," a group of cadet pranksters, and led it during his first class (senior) year. He played second-team running back for the varsity football team, was a shot putter on the track and field team, and excelled at polo. Arnold's academic standing varied between the middle and the lower end of his class, with his better scores in mathematics and science. Hap wanted to be assigned to the Cavalry but an inconsistent demerit record and a cumulative general merit class standing of 66th out of 111 cadets resulted in his being commissioned on 14 June 1907, as a second lieutenant, Infantry. He initially protested the assignment (there was no mandatory commissioning requirement for USMA graduates in 1907), but was persuaded to accept a commission in the 29th Infantry, which was then serving in the Philippines.
Hap disliked infantry troop duties and volunteered to assist Capt. Arthur S. Cowan of the Signal Corps in a military cartography detail mapping the island of Luzon. In January 1909, Cowan returned to the U.S. to become chief of the newly-created Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps and to recruit two lieutenants to become pilots. Cowan contacted Arnold, who cabled his interest in being transferred to the Signal Corps but, for two years, he received no reply. In June 1909, the 29th Infantry was relocated to Fort Jay, NY. In 1911, Arnold applied for a transfer to the Ordnance Department because it offered an immediate promotion to First Lieutenant. While awaiting the results of the competitive examination he had taken for the position, he learned that his interest in aeronautics had not been forgotten.
Military Aviation Pioneer
Arnold immediately sent a letter requesting a transfer to the Signal Corps, and on 21 April 1911, received Special Order 95, detailing him and 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Milling of the 15th Cavalry, to Dayton, OH, for a course in flight instruction at the Wright brothers' aviation school at Simms Station, OH. Arnold began flight instruction on 3 May and made his first solo flight on 13 May after three hours and forty-eight minutes of flying lessons. (Milling had already soloed on 8 May with two hours of flight time.) In June, he and Milling completed their instruction. Arnold received Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) pilot certificate No. 29 on 6 July 1911, and Military Aviator Certificate No. 2 a year later. (In 1913, he was also named in a general order as one of the first 24 rated military aviators authorized to wear the newly-designed Military Aviator badge.)
On 14 June 1911, Arnold and Milling were sent to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps at College Park, MD, as the Army's first flight instructors. At College Park, using a Burgess-Wright airplane, Arnold set an altitude record of 3,260 feet on 7 July and then broke it three times (18 August 1911, to 4,167 feet; 25 January 1912, to 4,764 feet; and 1 June 1912, 6,540 feet). In August 1911, he experienced his first crash while trying to take off from a farm field after getting lost. In September, Arnold became the first U.S. pilot to carry mail, flying a bundle of letters five miles on Long Island, NY, and he is credited as the first pilot to fly over the U.S. Capitol and the first to carry a U.S. Congressman as a passenger.
The flight school moved in November 1911 to a farm leased near Augusta, GA, hoping to continue flying there during the winter. Training was limited by rain and flooding, and they returned to Maryland in May 1912. Arnold accepted delivery of the Army's first tractor airplane (front-mounted propeller and engine) on 26 June, but crashed into the bay at Plymouth, MA during takeoff. Arnold began to develop a phobia about flying, intensified by the earlier fatal crash of the Wright Company instructor who taught him, Arthur L. Welsh (1881-1912), at College Park on 12 June. Another crash at College Park on 18 September killed an academy classmate of Arnold's, 2d Lt. Lewis Rockwell.
In October 1912, Arnold and Milling were ordered to enter the competition for the first MacKay Trophy for "the most outstanding military flight of the year." Arnold won when he located a company of cavalry from the air and returned safely, despite high turbulence. He and Milling were sent to Fort Riley, KS, to experiment with spotting for the field artillery. On 5 November, Arnold's plane stalled, went into a spin, and he narrowly avoided a fatal crash. He immediately grounded himself and applied for a leave of absence. Flying was considered so dangerous that no stigma was attached for refusing to fly, and his request was granted (five of the Army's 14 aviators transferred out during 1913). During his leave of absence he renewed an acquaintance with Eleanor "Bee" Pool, the daughter of a banker, and one of his father's patients.
On 1 December, Arnold took a staff assignment in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in Washington, DC. In the spring of 1913 he was assigned the task of closing the flying school at College Park. Although he was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 10 April, Arnold was unhappy and requested a transfer to the Philippines. While awaiting a response, he was assigned to the 9th Infantry on 10 July. In August, he testified before the House Military Affairs Committee against a bill to make aviation a semi-autonomous "Air Corps". On 1 September he was assigned to a company at Fort Thomas, KY, where he remained until his transfer to the 13th Infantry on 1 November.
Marriage, a Return to Aviation, and Children
On 10 September 1913, Arnold and Eleanor "Bee" Pool married, with Milling acting as his best man. Sent back to the Philippines in January 1914, he was quartered adjacent to 1st Lt. George C. Marshall, who became his mentor, friend and patron. Soon after their arrival, Bee miscarried. But on 17 January 1915, their first child, Lois Elizabeth Arnold, was born at Fort McKinley in Manila. After eight months of troop duty, Arnold became battalion adjutant. In January 1916, after completing a two-year tour with the 13th Infantry, Arnold was attached to the 3rd Infantry and returned to the U.S. En route to Madison Barracks, NY, he exchanged telegrams from Hawaii with the executive officer of the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, Major William L. Mitchell, who alerted him that he was being detailed to the Signal Corps again, as a first lieutenant if he chose non-flying status. However, if he volunteered to re-qualify for a rating of Junior Military Aviator (JMA), a temporary promotion to captain was mandated by law. On 20 May 1916, Arnold reported to Rockwell Field, CA, on flying status but as supply officer at the Signal Corps Aviation School. He received permanent promotion to captain, Infantry, on 23 September.
Encouraged by former associates, between October and December 1916 Arnold overcame his fear of flying by going up fifteen to twenty minutes a day. On 26 November he flew solo and, on 16 December re-qualified for his JMA. Before he could be reassigned to flying duties, he was involved as a witness in a controversial incident. The Secretary of the Aviation School, Capt. Frank P. Lahm, authorized an excursion flight on 10 January for a non-aviator that resulted in the loss of the airplane in Mexico and the disappearance of the officers for nine days. After testifying to Army investigators on 27 January, acknowledging that the flight had been authorized by Lahm, Arnold was transferred to Panama on 30 January 1917, one day after the birth of his second child, Henry H. Arnold, Jr.
Arnold collected the men who would make up his first command, the 7th Aero Squadron, in New York City on 5 February 1917, and was ordered to find a suitable location for an airfield in the Panama Canal Zone. When the military in Panama couldn't agree on a site, Arnold was ordered back to Washington DC to resolve the dispute and was en route by ship when the United States declared war on Germany. Arnold requested to be sent to France, but his presence in Washington worked against him, since the Aviation Section needed qualified officers for headquarters duty.
Beginning 1 May 1917, Hap received a series of assignments: As Officer in Charge of the Information Division, with a promotion to major on 27 June; as Assistant Executive Officer of the Aeronautical Division; and then as Executive Officer after it became the Air Division on 1 October. On 5 August 1917, he was promoted again, becoming the youngest full colonel in the Army.
Arnold gained significant experience in aircraft production and procurement, the construction of air schools and airfields, and the recruitment and training of large numbers of personnel, as well as learning political in-fighting in the Washington environment; all of which helped him significantly 25 years later. When the Division of Military Aeronautics (DMA) superseded the Air Division in April 1918, Arnold continued as executive assistant to its director, Maj. Gen. William Kenly, and advanced to Assistant Director when the DMA was removed from the Signal Corps in May 1918.
The Arnold's third child, William Bruce Arnold, was born 17 July 1918. Shortly after, Hap went to France to brief General John Pershing, commanding the American Expeditionary Force, on the Kettering Bug, a weapons development. Aboard a ship to France in late October, he developed Spanish influenza and was hospitalized on his arrival in England. He did reach the front on 11 November 1918, but the Armistice ended the war on the same day.
The Air Service separated from the Signal Corps on 20 May 1918. However, the control of aviation remained with the land forces when its post-war director was a field artillery general, Maj. Gen. Charles T. Menoher, who epitomized the view of the War Department General Staff that "military aviation can never be anything other than simply an arm of the Army." Menoher was followed in 1921 by another non-aviator, Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick.
However, Patrick, despite being 59 years old, obtained a rating of Junior Airplane Pilot and became both an airpower advocate and a proponent of an independent air force.
Arnold was sent to Rockwell Field on 10 January 1919 as District Supervisor, Western District of the Air Service, to oversee the demobilization of 8,000 airmen and surplus aircraft. There he established relationships with the men who became his main aides, Executive Officer Capt. Carl A. Spaatz and Adjutant 1st Lt. Ira C. Eaker. Arnold supported the highly publicized views of Assistant Chief of Air Service Billy Mitchell. Arnold's promotion to colonel expired 30 June 1920 while he was Air Officer of the Ninth Corps Area in San Francisco, and he reverted back to his permanent rank of captain. Even though he received an automatic promotion to major because of his Military Aviator rating, he became junior to officers serving under him, including Spaatz, whose temporary promotion (received while he was in France) was not rescinded. On 11 August 1920, Arnold formally transferred to the Air Service. In October 1922 he was sent back to Rockwell, now a service depot, as base commander and encouraged an aerial refueling, the first in history, that took place eight months later.
Arnold experienced several serious illnesses and accidents requiring hospitalization, including recurring stomach ulcers and the amputation of three fingertips on his left hand in 1922. His wife and sons also experienced serious health problems, and his fourth child, John, born in the summer of 1921, died on 30 June 1923, of acute appendicitis.
In August 1924, Arnold was unexpectedly assigned to attend a five-month course of study at the Army Industrial College. After completing the course he was hand-picked by Patrick (despite a mutual dislike) to head the Air Service's Information Division, working closely with Billy Mitchell. When Mitchell was court-martialed, Arnold, Spaatz, and Eaker were all warned that they were jeopardizing their careers by vocally supporting Mitchell, but they testified on his behalf anyway. After Mitchell was convicted on 17 December 1925, Arnold and other officers continued to use the Information Division to mail pro-Mitchell information to airpower-friendly congressmen and Air Service reservists. In February, Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis ordered Patrick to find and discipline the culprits. Patrick was already aware of the activity and chose to use Arnold to set an example. He gave Arnold the choice of resignation or a general court-martial, but when Arnold chose a court-martial, Patrick decided to avoid another public fiasco and instead transferred him to Ft. Riley, far from the aviation mainstream, to command the 16th Observation Squadron. Patrick's press release on the investigation stated that Arnold was also reprimanded for violating Army General Order No. 20 by attempting "to influence legislation in an improper manner."
Despite this setback, which included a fitness report that stated "in an emergency he is liable to lose his head," Arnold made a commitment to remain in the service. In doing this, he turned down an offer to be president of the soon-to-be operating Pan American Airways, which he had helped bring into being. Arnold made the best of his exile and, in May 1927, his participation in war games at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, impressed Maj. Gen. James E. Fechet, successor to Patrick as Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He also received superlative fitness reports from his commanders at Ft. Riley, Brig. Gen. Ewing E. Booth (who had been a member of the Mitchell court) and his successor, Brig. Gen. Charles J. Symmonds.
On 24 February 1927, his son David Lee Arnold was born at Ft. Riley. During this period Arnold wrote six books of juvenile fiction whose objective was to interest young people in flying.
Mid-Career in the Air Corps
Fechet intervened with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Charles P. Summerall to have Arnold's exile ended by assigning him to the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. The year-long course was unpleasant for Arnold because of doctrinal differences with the school's commandant, Maj. Gen. Edward L. King, but Arnold graduated with high marks in June 1929. Arnold was slated for assignment to the Air Corps Training Center (ACTC) in San Antonio following graduation, but Brig. Gen. Lahm, the commander of the ACTC, was strongly against it (possibly due to their 1917 dispute). Instead, Arnold commanded the Fairfield Air Service Depot in Ohio. In 1930, he also became Chief of the Field Service Section, Air Corps Materiel Division, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1 February 1931.
He took command of March Field, CA, where Spaatz had just assumed command of the grandiose-sounding, but tiny, 1st Bombardment Wing, on 27 November 1931. Arnold's responsibilities included refurbishing the base into a showcase installation, which required him to resolve strained relations with the community. He accomplished this by having his officers join a local social service organization and by a series of well-publicized relief efforts. Arnold's command flew food-drops during blizzards in the winter of 1932-33, assisted in relief work during the Long Beach earthquake of 10 March 1933, and established a camp for 3,000 boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He organized a high-profile series of aerial reviews that featured visits from Hollywood celebrities and aviation notables. In August 1932, Arnold began acquisition of portions of Rogers Dry Lake as a bombing and gunnery range for his units, a site that later became Edwards Air Force Base.
In 1934, he commanded a military zone of the controversial Army Air Corps Mail Operation, with a temporary headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT, but his pilots performed well and his personal reputation was untouched by the fiasco. Later that same year he won his second Mackay Trophy, when he led ten Martin B-10B bombers on an 8,290-mile flight from Bolling Field to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back. Overly credited with its success, he nonetheless lobbied for recognition of the other airmen who took part, but the Deputy Chief of Staff ignored his recommendations. His reputation among some of his peers was tarnished by resentment when he was belatedly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the flight in 1937.
On 1 March 1935, General Headquarters Air Force was activated to control all combat aviation units of the Air Corps based in the U.S., but was not subordinate to the Chief of Air Corps. While it was a significant step towards an independent air force, this dual authority created serious problems of unity of command for the next six years. GHQAF commander Maj. Gen. Frank Andrews tapped Arnold to command its 1st Wing, promoting him to the temporary rank of brigadier general on 2 March 1935. On 23 December 1935, new Chief of Staff Gen. Malin Craig summoned Arnold to Washington. He and Arnold had become personal friends and golf partners during Craig's command of the Ninth Corps Area in 1933, and over Arnold's protests, made him an Assistant Chief of the Air Corps, filling a vacancy caused by the elevation of Maj. Gen. Oscar M. Westover to Chief. Arnold became responsible for procurement and supply, and dealt with the political struggles over them. In effect, though, this meant that Arnold also "switched sides" in the struggle between GHQ Air Force and the Air Corps.
Chief of Air Corps
Westover was killed in an air crash at Burbank, CA on 21 September 1938. Prior vacancies had been filled by the incumbent assistant chief, and Arnold's appointment seemed automatic since he was well-qualified. Yet the appointment was delayed when a faction developed supporting the appointment of Andrews that included two members of the White House staff; Press Secretary Stephen Early and Military Adviser Col. Edwin M. Watson. A rumor circulated through the White House that Arnold was a "drunkard." In his memoirs, Arnold recorded that he enlisted the help of Harry Hopkins to attack the drinking rumors, but more recent research asserts that Craig threatened to resign as Army Chief of Staff if Arnold was not appointed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Arnold as Chief of Air Corps on 29 September, which carried with it the rank of Major General. To repair his relationship with the Andrews faction, most of whom were part of GHQAF, he selected its chief of staff, Col. Walter G. "Mike" Kilner, to fill the vacancy of assistant chief.
When Marshall requested a reorganization study from the Air Corps, on 5 October 1940 Arnold submitted a proposal that would create an air staff, unify the air arm under one commander, and grant it autonomy with the ground and supply forces. Everything in the proposal was immediately opposed by the General Staff. He and Eaker then collaborated on three books promoting airpower: This Flying Game (1936), Winged Victory (1941), and Army Flyer (1942).
Arnold encouraged research and development efforts; among his projects were the B-17 and the concept of Jet-assisted takeoff. To encourage the use of civilian expertise, the California Institute of Technology became a beneficiary of Air Corps funding and Theodore von Kármán, of its Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, developed a good working relationship with Arnold that led to the creation of the Scientific Advisory Group in 1944. Arnold characterized his wartime philosophy of research and development as: "Sacrifice some quality to get sufficient quantity to supply all fighting units. Never follow the mirage, looking for the perfect airplane, to a point where fighting squadrons are deficient in numbers of fighting planes."To that end, he concentrated on rapid returns from R&D investments, exploiting proven technologies to provide operational solutions to counter the rising threat of the Axis Powers. Arnold also pushed for jet propulsion, especially after the British shared their plans of Whittle's turbojet engine during his visit to Britain in April 1941.
In March 1939 Arnold was appointed to head the Air Board by Secretary of War Harry Woodring, to recommend doctrine and organization of Army airpower to the Chief of Staff. While the board's report concluded that airpower was indispensible to the defense of the hemisphere, stressed the need for long-range bombers, and became the basis for the first Air Corps field manual, it was a "considerable attenuation" of the doctrine being developed at the Air Corps Tactical School. Arnold submitted the findings to Gen. George C. Marshall, newly appointed as Chief of Staff on 1 September 1939, the day Nazi Germany invaded Poland.
When Congress repealed the Neutrality Act in November 1939 to permit the selling of aircraft to the belligerents, Arnold became concerned that shipments of planes to the Allies slowed delivery to the Air Corps, particularly since control of the allotment of aircraft production had been given to the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department in December 1938, and by extension, to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., a White House favorite. Arnold experienced two years of difficulties with Morgenthau, who was prone to denigrate the leadership of the War Department and Air Corps. Their conflict peaked on 12 March 1940, when Arnold's public complaint about increases in shipments brought a personal warning from Roosevelt that "there were places to which officers who did not 'play ball' might be sent, such as Guam," and got him banished from the White House for eight months.
The disfavor shown Arnold by Roosevelt reached a turning point in March 1941 when new Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, a supporter of Arnold, submitted his name with two others for promotion to the permanent rank of major general. Roosevelt refused to send the list to the Senate for confirmation because of Arnold's nomination, and his forced retirement from the service seemed imminent to both Stimson and Marshall. Stimson and Harry Hopkins arranged for Arnold, accompanied by Maj. Elwood "Pete" Quesada, to travel to England for three weeks in April to evaluate British aircraft production needs and to provide an up-to-date strategic analysis. His meeting with Roosevelt to report his findings was judged as impressively cogent and optimistic, but the president ruminated on Arnold's future for three weeks before submitting his name and the others to the Senate. From that point on, however, Arnold's position in the White House was secure. His importance to Roosevelt in setting an airpower agenda was demonstrated when Arnold was invited to the Atlantic Conference in Newfoundland in August (the first of seven such summits he would attend) but Morgenthau was not.
Reorganization, Autonomy, and Strategic plans
The division of authority between the Air Corps and GHQ Air Force was removed with a revision of Army Regulation 95-5 that created the United States Army Air Forces on 20 June 1941, only two days before Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. On 30 June, Arnold's title was changed to Chief of the Army Air Forces and acting Deputy Chief of Staff for Air with authority over both the Air Corps and Air Force Combat Command (successor to GHQAF). While this provided the air arm with a staff of its own and brought the entire organization under the command of one general, it failed to grant the degree of autonomy sought. By consensus between Marshall and Arnold, debate on separation of the Air Force into a service co-equal with the Army and Navy was postponed until after the war.
In July 1941, Roosevelt asked for production requirements to defeat potential enemies, and Arnold endorsed a request by his new Air War Plans Division to submit an air war plan. The estimation, designated AWPD/1, defined four tasks for the AAF: Defense of the Western Hemisphere; an initial defensive strategy against Japan; a strategic air offensive against Germany; and a later strategic air offensive against Japan in prelude of invasion. It also planned for an expansion of the AAF to 63,068 aircraft and 2.1 million men. AWPD/1 called for 24 groups (approximately 750 airplanes) of very long range B-29 bombers to be based in Northern Ireland and Egypt for use against Nazi Germany, and for production of sufficient Consolidated B-36s for intercontinental bombing missions of Germany.
World War II
On 15 December 1941, one week after the U.S. entry in the war, Arnold was promoted to lieutenant general. On 9 March 1942, after the creation of the AAF failed to define clear channels of authority for the air forces, the Army adopted the functional reorganization that Arnold had advocated in October 1940. Acting on an executive order from Roosevelt, the War Department granted the AAF full autonomy, equal to and entirely separate from the Army Ground Forces and Services of Supply. The Office of the Chief of Air Corps and the Air Forces Combat Command were abolished, and Arnold became AAF Commanding General and an ex officio member of both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
In response to an August 1942 directive, Arnold had the AWPD revise its estimates. AWPD/42 resulted, calling for 75,000 aircraft and 2.7 million men, and increased the production of aircraft for use by other allies. AWPD/42 reaffirmed earlier strategic priorities, but increased the list of industrial targets from 23 to 177, ranking the German Luftwaffe first and its submarine force second, in importance of destruction. It also directed that the B-29 bomber not be used in Europe because of problems in its development; instead the B-29's deployment was to be concentrated in the Far East to destroy Japanese military power.
Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Arnold began to carry out AWPD/1. The primary strategic bombing force against Nazi Germany would be the Eighth Air Force, and he named Spaatz to command it and Eaker to head its Bomber Command. Other Arnold protégés eventually filled key positions in the strategic bombing forces, including Haywood S. Hansell, Laurence S. Kuter, and James H. Doolittle.
Despite protecting his strategic bombing force from demands of other services and allies, Arnold was forced to divert resources from the Eighth to support operations in North Africa, crippling the Eighth in its infancy and nearly killing it. Eaker (now Eighth Air Force commander) quickly learned that the pre-war doctrine of daylight precision bombing (developed at the Air Corps Tactical School as a foundation for separating the Air Force from the Army) was mistaken in its tenet that heavily-armed bombers could reach any target without the support of long-range escort fighters. The reality was that whenever the big bombers went beyond the range of fighter cover, they suffered very heavy losses. Early in 1943, he began requesting more fighters with fuel tanks that could be jettisoned to increase their range, in addition to repeated requests to increase the size of his small bombing force. In March 1943, Arnold was promoted to four-star general.
The daylight raids didn't suffer from the same problems of navigation as they did at night, but the idea that each aircraft could hit a precise target was soon abandoned, and the Eighth Air Force developed a system of bomber leaders, with each formation bombing in a pattern. Only after the arrival of long range escort fighters capable of taking the fight to the Luftwaffe in the skies over Germany did the Eighth Air Force become a real threat to the German war effort. The same lessons had to be learned in the Pacific. The B-29 Super Fortress had been developed as a high-altitude precision bomber, but made its impact dropping masses of incendiary bombs.
The heavy losses on deep penetration missions in the summer and fall of 1943 increased Eaker's requests. Arnold, under pressure and impatient for results, ignored Eaker's findings and placed the blame on a lack of aggressiveness by bomber commanders. This came at a time when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was putting together his command group for the invasion of Europe, and Arnold approved Eisenhower's request to replace Eaker with his own commanders, Spaatz and Doolittle. Ironically, the very items Eaker had been requesting - more airplanes, drop tanks, and P-51 fighters - accompanied the change of command and made the Eighth Air Force decisive in defeating Germany using the daylight bombing doctrine.
The change in command at Eighth Air Force, particularly involving the relief of a friend, was just one of many that exemplified a ruthlessness that Arnold developed to get results. In 1942, Brig. Gen. Walter R. Weaver, Acting Chief of the Air Corps, had his job eliminated and was relegated to a technical training command. George C. Kenney relieved Jacob E. Fickel in command of Fourth Air Force and, later that same year, replaced former Chief of the Air Corps George H. Brett as Southwest Pacific air commander. In the B-29 campaign, Curtis E. LeMay relieved Kenneth B. Wolfe in India in July 1944 then relieved Hansell on Guam in January 1945.
With the strategic bombing crisis resolved in Europe, Arnold placed full emphasis on completion of the development and deployment of the B-29 Very Long Range (VLR) bomber to attack Japan. As early as 1942, Arnold planned to make himself commanding general of the Twentieth Air Force. This unique command arrangement may also have contributed to his health problems (discussed later). But after the negative experience of building an effective bombing force against Germany, and realizing the consequences of failure against Japan, Arnold concluded that, absent any unity of command in the Pacific theaters, administrative decisions regarding VLR operations could best be handled personally. However, theater commanders Douglas MacArthur, Chester Nimitz, and Joseph Stillwell all coveted the B-29s for tactical support, to which Arnold was adamantly opposed as a diversion from strategic policy. He convinced not only Marshall, but also Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J. King, that the Twentieth was unique in that its operations cut across the jurisdiction of all three theaters, and thus should report directly to the Joint Chiefs with Arnold acting as their executive agent. In February 1944, President Roosevelt agreed and approved the arrangement.
The VLR program had been plagued with a seemingly unending series of development problems, subjecting it and Arnold to much criticism in the press and from skeptical field commanders. The B-29 was the key component of the AAF's fourth strategic priority, since no other land-based bomber was capable of reaching the Japanese homeland, but by February 1944, the XX Bomber Command, slated to begin Operation Matterhorn on 1 June, had virtually no flight time yet above an altitude of 20,000 feet.
With a designated overseas deployment date of 15 April 1944, Arnold intervened in the situation personally by flying to Kansas on 8 March. For three days he toured training bases involved in the modification program, distressed at his findings of shortages and work failures. On the spot, he made Maj. Gen. Bennett E. Meyers, a military procurement officer accompanying him, the coordinator of the program. Meyers succeeded in the "Battle of Kansas." Despite labor problems and blizzard weather, a complete bomb group was ready for deployment by 9 April. The mechanical problems of the B-29, however, had not been resolved, and combat operations identified many new ones. Arnold felt the pressure of not only achieving the goals of AWPD/1, but of justifying by results a very expensive technological project in the B-29, and providing the delivery platform for the highly-classified atomic bomb if the Manhattan Project succeeded. VLR operations against Japanese targets in China and Southeast Asia began in June 1944, and from the outset produced far less positive results than expected.
The difficulties of the Twentieth Air Force's campaign against Japan mirrored those of the Eighth Air Force's against Germany. With characteristic impatience, Arnold quickly relieved Wolfe, the B-29 commander in China (after less than a month of operations) and replaced him with LeMay. A second B-29 command began operations from bases in the Mariana Islands in November. Brig. Gen. Haywood S. Hansell, one of the architects of AWPD/1 and AWPD/42, encountered even more command problems than had Wolfe or LeMay. After two months of poor results, and because he resisted the campaign of firebombing attacks against Japanese population centers favored by Arnold and his chief of staff, Lauris Norstad, Arnold decided he too needed replacing. He shut down operations from China, consolidated all the B-29s in the Marianas, and replaced Hansell with LeMay in January 1945 as commander of XXI Bomber Command.
Between 1943 and 1945, Arnold experienced four heart attacks severe enough to require hospitalization. In addition to being intensely impatient by nature, Arnold felt that his personal presence was required wherever a crisis might be. As a result, during the war he traveled extensively, for long hours and under great stress, aggravating what may have been a pre-existing coronary condition. His extended trips and inspection tours were to: The United Kingdom in April 1941 and again in May 1942; the South Pacific in September 1942; North Africa and China in January-February 1943; the Middle East and Italy (where his party came under artillery fire) in November-December 1943; London and Normandy accompanying Marshall in June 1944; Germany and Italy in April-May 1945; the Western Pacific in June 1945; and Potsdam in July 1945.
A lesser but more frequent factor may have been his difficulty in handling inter-service politics, particularly with the Navy, which steadfastly refused to recognize him as a Chief of Staff or his subordinate staff as equals. On Guam, with knowledge of the approaching atomic bomb decision, he was compelled to negotiate with Fleet Admiral Nimitz over what seemed petty Navy objections to the basing there of the headquarters of the strategic air forces.
Arnold's first heart attack occurred 28 February 1943, just after his return from the Casablanca Conference and China. During that trip, Argonaut, the B-17 bomber transporting his party, became lost for several hours over Japanese-held territory trying to "fly the Hump" at night. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Hospital for several days then took three weeks leave at the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel in Florida, which had been converted into a convalescent hospital. U.S. Army regulations then required that he leave the service, but President Roosevelt waived the requirement in April after he demonstrated his recovery, and on the condition that the President would be provided with monthly updates on Arnold's health.
Arnold's second heart attack occurred just a month later, on 10 May 1943, and resulted in a 10-day stay in Walter Reed. Against the wishes of Marshall, he gave the commencement address for the Class of June 1943 at West Point, where his son Bruce was graduating. His third heart attack, less severe than the first two, occurred exactly a year after the second, on 10 May 1944, under the strain of the B-29 problems. Arnold took a month's leave, returning to duty by flying with Marshall to London on 7 June for a conference and an inspection of Omaha Beach.
Arnold's last wartime heart attack came on 17 January 1945, just days after he had replaced Hansell with LeMay. Arnold had not gone into his office for three days, and he refused to admit the Air Force's chief flight surgeon to his quarters to be examined. The flight surgeon enlisted a general (a personal friend of Arnold's) to inquire on his condition, after which Arnold was again flown to Coral Gables, FL, and placed under 24-hour care for nine days. Again, Arnold was allowed to remain in the service, but under conditions that amounted to light duty. Still, he continued to tour air bases in both the European and Pacific theaters. Arnold was returning by C-54 from Italy to Miami for a checkup when he received the news of the German surrender on 7 May 1945.
Promotions and Retirement
On 19 March 1943, Arnold was promoted (wartime) to four-star General, and on 21 December 1944, appointed a five-star General of the Army under Public Law 282-78, placing him fourth in Army rank seniority behind Marshall, MacArthur, and Eisenhower. He received honorary doctorates from Pennsylvania Military College and the University of Southern California in 1941, and from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1942.
In 1945, Arnold directed the founding of Project RAND (which became the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank) with $10,000,000 of funding leftover from World War II. Initially tasked "to connect military planning with research and development decisions," RAND widely expanded in its scope beyond its original mission.
After a trip to South America in January 1946 in which he developed a heart arrhythmia severe enough to cancel the remainder of the trip, General Arnold left active duty in the AAF on 28 February 1946, (his official date of retirement was 30 June 1946). On 23 March 1946, Public Law 333-79 made the promotion to General of the Army permanent for all those holding it, and awarded full pay and allowances for those on the retired list. Arnold was succeeded by Spaatz, who also became the first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force when it became a separate service on 18 September 1947.
Arnold retired to a 40-acre ranch that he named Valley of the Moon near Sonoma, CA. Unlike Gen. George S. Patton who enjoyed independent wealth, or colleagues who had taken positions in government, such as Gen. George C. Marshall (appointed Secretary of State), Arnold had no source of income beyond his retirement pay and allowances, and wasn't healthy enough to continue service. For that reason, he signed a contract with Harper & Brothers to write his memoirs, Global Mission, an accurate account of Air Force activities in the war and his own life. His autobiography was an attempt to provide financial security for Bee after his death. In January 1948, while writing the book, he suffered his fifth heart attack and it put him in the hospital him for three months.
On 7 May 1949, Public Law 58-81 changed the designation of Arnold's final rank and grade to that of General of the Air Force, and he remains the only person to have held the rank. He is also the only person to hold five-star rank in two U.S. military services.
Medals, Awards & Badges
Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Death and Burial
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold died on 15 January 1950, at his ranch home in Sonoma.
A grateful nation gave him a state funeral in Washington, DC that included services held in the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, which is very rare. He was buried in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery and his grave is marked with a very simple headstone. He was survived by his wife of 36 years, Elizabeth "Bee" Arnold, who died on 26 June 1978 and was buried with her husband at Arlington.
All three of Arnold's surviving sons were graduates of West Point (Henry Harley Jr., 1939; Willam Bruce, June 1943; and David Lee, 1949) and reached the grade of colonel. The two youngest sons served in the U.S. Air Force and are interred near their father's burial site at Arlington National Cemetery.
Arnold AFB, TN, and the Arnold Engineering Development Center are named for Arnold.
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.
The cadet social center at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Arnold Hall, and the Arnold Hall Community Center at Lackland AFB, TX, are both named for Arnold.
The Air Force Association recognizes the "most significant contribution by a military member for national defense" with its H.H. Arnold Award.
The top honorary organization in Air Force ROTC, the Arnold Air Society, is named for him, and The George C. Marshall Foundation awards the George C. Marshall / Henry "Hap" Arnold ROTC Award annually to the top senior cadet at each college or university with an AFROTC program. The Air Force Aid Society awards a college scholarship in his name to the dependents of Air Force members or retirees.
On 18 May 2006, the Department of the Air Force introduced prototypes of two new service dress uniforms, one resembling those worn by Air Service officers prior to 1926, called the "Billy Mitchell heritage coat," and another, resembling the U.S. Army Air Forces' Uniform of World War II and named the "Hap Arnold heritage coat." In 2007, the Air Force decided in favor of the "Hap Arnold" prototype, but in 2009 the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force directed that "no further effort be made on the Hap Arnold Heritage Coat" and the uniform change was suspended indefinitely.
The U.S. Department of Defense high school at the former Wiesbaden Air Base in Wiesbaden, Germany, was named General H. H. Arnold High School in 1949. The school was renamed Wiesbaden High School in 2006 after the installation was transferred to the U.S. Army.
On 7 November 1988, the U.S. Postal Service released the H. H. "Hap" Arnold 65 cent postage stamp bearing the likeness of Arnold, in his honor, as part of the Great Americans series.
Final Remarks From the Author
Here are three interesting paradoxes to consider regarding Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold:
• Upon graduation from West Point, he protested and almost refused, a commission in the Infantry. After he accepted the Infantry commission, he so disliked infantry troop duties that he tried to transfer to the newly-created Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps and, when two years had passed and he did not receive a positive reply, he even applied for a transfer to the Ordnance Department. Yet, on 21 December 1944 he was appointed a five-star General of the Army.
• He grounded himself from flying for four years after almost experiencing a plane crash that could have been fatal. Yet he went on to conquer his fear of flying and, on 7 May 1949, became America's first, and only, five-star General of the Air Force.
• At West Point he acquired the nickname 'Hap,' which was short for happy; it also reflected his less than serious approach to life at the academy. He helped found the "Black Hand," a group of cadet pranksters, and led it during his first class (senior) year. His entire cadet career was spent as a "clean sleeve" (cadet private), which was not a good indicator of a leader, and he graduated in the bottom half of his class. Yet he became the only man to ever hold five-star rank in two different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Prior to, and throughout, World War II, Arnold directed air activities for our nation's global war against Germany and Japan. Under his command, the air arm of the military grew from 22,000 officers and men with 3,900 planes, to nearly 2,500,000 men and 75,000 aircraft.
Given all the above, it is doubtful that anyone from the Class of 1907, or from any other class at West Point, ever asked: "Hey. Anyone know what happened to Hap Arnold after graduation?"
Sadly, the long hours, extensive travel, and general stress of war aggravated what was probably a pre-existing coronary condition and, after numerous heart attacks, led to Arnold's death at 63.
Robert A. Lovett, with whom Arnold worked closely during the war in his capacity as Assistant Secretary of War for Air, said after his death that Hap Arnold "had been as much a casualty of war as if he had been injured in the line of duty."
General, we thank you for your outstanding service in defending our country and preserving its freedoms. May you rest in peace knowing that you truly embodied the ideals of "Duty, Honor, Country."
|Origin of Nickname/Handle:|
At West Point he acquired the nickname 'Hap,' which was short for Happy; it also reflected his less than serious approach to life at the academy.
|Honoree ID: 7||Created by: MHOH|