Henry H. Arnold was born in Gladwyn,Pennsylvania,on 25 June 1886. Following graduation from the United States Military Academy,he was appointed a Second Lieutenant of Infantry on 14 June 1907. In 1911 he entered aviation and became a flyer. He was detailed to the Signal Corps in April 1911,piloting the Wright Bi-Plane. He was one of the first flyers taught by the Wright Brothers.
In June 1912,General Arnold established a new altitude record when he piloted a Brugress-Wright airplane to a height of 6,540 feet. He participated in the Regular Army and National Guard Movements in the states of New York and Connecticut and established several aeronautical records. On 09 October 1912,Arnold won the first Mackay Trophy to be awarded for his flight demonstrations.
He progressed rapidly through the ranks,and by 11 February 1935 he had received the temporary rank of Brigadier General. This rank was made permanent on 02 December 1940. He was awarded permanent rank of Major General and became Chief of the Army Air Forces in 1941. In March 1942,“Hap”Arnold became Commanding General of the Army Air Force.
He retired from the service on 30 June 1946 with the ratings of Command Pilot and Combat Observer. His many accomplishments,of both personal and national significance,gained him the distinction of becoming the first five-star General of the United States Air Force on 07 May 1949 by an act of Congress.
He died on 15 January 1950 of a cardiac condition.
General Arnold received the Distinguished Flying Cross in November 1936,and the Distinguished Service Medal in October 1942. Arnold was awarded the Air Medal in March 1943,and in September 1945 he received the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal. In October 1945,he was awarded a second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal. His other awards included:The World War II Victory Medal;American Defense Medal;American Theater Ribbon;Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon;European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon,1942-1943;U.S. Military Badge No. 1;Morocco’s Grand Cross,Grand Officer of the Commander (Ouissam Alaouite);Yugoslavia’s Sun in the degree of Grand Aztec Eagle;Mexico’s Order of Military Merit;and England’s Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.
The H. H. Arnold Award was established in honor of General Arnold by the Air Force Association in 1948. It is presented for the “most outstanding contributions toward the peace and the security of the United States in the field of aviation.”
General Arnold had but one theme:“It’s got to be done and done quickly,so let’s get it done.”Can there be any doubt of our pride in General Henry “Hap”Arnold,the man who had the imagination to see success and the confidence to create it?
For more information about General “Hap”Arnold,visit these sites: