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 Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell

Original Name William Lendrum
Birth
Nice, Departement des Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Death 19 Feb 1936 (aged 56)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA
Memorial ID 720 · View Source
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United States Army General, Aviation Pioneer, Special Congressional Medal Recipient. At the start of the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army as a Private, and rose rapidly in the Signal Corps, which at first, controlled the development of Army aviation. In 1916, he learned to fly, and became the air adviser to General John J. Pershing in World War I. At the end of the war, Mitchell was promoted to Brigadier General, and made assistant chief of the Air Service, becoming the leading advocate of the air forces' independence of the Army and the Navy. His belief in the future of military aviation developed resistance among leaders of the traditional Army and Navy, especially his claims that the Air Force made large capital surface ships obsolete. In 1921, he demonstrated this by attacking a surrendered German battleship, cruiser and a destroyer, sinking all three by bombers in less than 20 minutes, and to counter those who argued that American ships could not be sunk, repeated the demonstration on three obsolete American battleships. To counter critics that said the bombers sank those ships because they were undefended, he had aerial targets towed behind bombers parallel to antiaircraft guns, who then attempted to knock down the targets - after an hour of firing all their guns at the aerial targets, only one target had been hit, by one bullet - every target had been missed. In October 1924, his critics sent him on an extended tour of the Far East, but when he returned, Mitchell predicted that the next war would be with Japan, that Japan would attack the American fleet at Pearl Harbor without warning and without a declaration of war while negotiating peace, and that the next war would be one between airplanes and submarines, with the surface fleet being subordinated to the role of transporting Army troops and supplies. All that he theorized came true just 15 years later. When his critics silenced him, he went to the public to obtain support for a proper national defense. His critics then had him court-martialed for insubordination, and the board ordered him suspended from service for five years. Rather than accept the courtmartial verdict, he resigned from the Air Service. Broken, he died shortly afterward in New York City.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 720
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Billy Mitchell (29 Dec 1879–19 Feb 1936), Find A Grave Memorial no. 720, citing Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .