Fallen Warrior: Gen. Henry Arnold

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  • By 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

For our Fallen Warrior commemoration this week, we remember Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, Army Air Forces commander.

Arnold was born in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania on June 25, 1886 and graduated from U.S. Military Academy in 1907.

Arnold learned how to fly from the Wright brothers, only eight years after the invention of the airplane. By 1911, he had become one of the first military aviators.

In January 1936, Arnold was selected as assistant to the chief of Air Corps in Washington and he became commanding general of the Army Air Forces in March 1942, when the War Department General Staff was organized.

In the early 1942, there was a severe shortage of male pilots due to heavy losses in combat. Arnold approved a plan to train young women pilots to fly military aircraft, creating the Women Air Force Service Pilots.

He retired from the service in June 1946 after earning three Distinguished Service Crosses, the Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal and decorations from seven countries.

Arnold was appointed the first general of the Air Force, a five-star rank, by the U.S. Congress on May 7th, 1949, making him the only officer to hold a five-star rank in two different U.S. military services.

He died at his ranch home in California on January 15, 1950.

Editor's note: The Fallen Warrior series highlights Fallen Warriors who exemplify our core values and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Take a moment to honor this week’s hero.