Arnold, Henry Harley “Hap”, born June 25-06-1886, in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1907 and joined the infantry. “Happy” Arnold, a nickname his aunt came up with, early in 1911 went to Dayton, Ohio, to take flying lessons from Orville and Wilbur Wrightand later that year earned the twenty-ninth pilot’s license issued in the United States. He was one of the first military pilots worldwide. Henry Arnold 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. He inherited the opportunity to carry on the family’s military heritage too, which he did with great distinction. In 1916 he joined the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps and during World War I served as commander of the 7th Aero Squadron in Panama. Between the wars he was a vigorous advocate of air power and an active supporter of William “Billy” Mitchell’s
attempt to create an independent air force. Mitchell died age 56 on 19-02-1936 in New York city.
The Army, however, retained control of the Army Air Corps, as its air arm was then called, and in 1938 Arnold became Chief of the corps. He believed that air power would be the decisive weapon in the next war and thought that the airplane, especially the heavy bomber, should not be shackled to the Army. He encouraged development of the “flying fortress,” a bomber able to defend itself from enemy fighters and to drop bombs with pinpoint accuracy on industrial targets. Arnold maintained that strategic bombing—the selective destruction of key industries—would force an enemy to an early surrender, even without physical occupation of the country.
Arnold did not get all that he wanted, but in March 1942 the corps became the Army Air Forces and he became the chief of staff. Although technically his organization remained subordinate to the Army, it was actually independent, a fact underscored by Arnold’s place as an equal on the Combined Chiefs of Staff (the agency composed of the American and British heads of service) and his promotion to five-star general. Arnold also saw to the development of the type of air force he wanted. His favourite maxim, “A second-best air force is like a second-best hand in poker—it’s no good at all,” had led to the creation of the world’s most powerful air force.
Death and burial ground of Arnold, Henry Harley “Hap”.
Arnold retired in 1946; a year later, owing largely to his efforts, the U.S. Air Force became an independent service. In his final report he warned that within 30 years the United States would need 3.000-mile-an-hour robot atom bombs, launched from space ships “operating outside the earth’s atmosphere.” He believed that air power had made mass armies and navies obsolete. Henry “Happy” Arnold died of a heart attack at the age of 63, at his ranch home, Valley of the Moon, near Sonoma, California on 15-01-1950. He was given a state funeral in Washington, D.C. that included rare services held in Arlington Memorial Amphitheater and he was buried in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery between many comrades, as Spencer Akin U.S. 2* Major General, Pacific Theatre and and Major General, Commander 1st Infantry Division, nickname “The Big red One” James Collins. The 1st Infantry Division of the United states Army the oldest division in the United States Army..
As he had always considered himself “just a regular Joe,” in his will he requested that his grave be marked by a simple regulation headstone. A visit to his grave is often requested by many visiting dignitaries. They are always surprised and moved to see that the grave of such an aviation pioneer is so simply marked.