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Editorial Note on Air Corps Inspection Trip
“I had not known General Andrews at all well,” Marshall recalled two decades after his Air Corps-inspired inspection trip. “While I was head of the War Plans Division, he called on me and said he was going around the country . . . and invited me to go with him, and I accepted. As a matter of fact, there was some opposition to my going from the War Department. But I went ahead and took the trip, and I found it tremendously informing.
“I went to all the various plants and met the heads of the plants, particularly their chief engineers. I walked with one or the other through the plant while General Andrews was busy with the other fellow, and learned a great deal about construction and the difficulties and problems. I got an insight into what went on. I think we went to a [Boeing Airplane Company] plant in Seattle of which [Philip G.] Johnson was the head and where B-17s were being made. We also went to all the principal air stations, and at all of these I heard the comments of the officers. I heard their appeals to Andrews for better representation; I heard their appeals for things that they were being denied. I came to recognize a great many of the things as justified.
“When I got back to Washington, I looked into it, and I found out that they had almost no representation at all on the General Staff. I found the General Staff officers had little interest in the Air—mostly antipathy, and it was quite marked. . . . I found the young Air officers were dealing with Congress and stirring up everything, and there was a general muddle. They had something to complain about, because they were not getting recognition; the General Staff at that time had little understanding of the Air.”
Few Air Corps officers wanted to attend the Army Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth. “In the first place it was hard work, but more particularly they were afraid of endangering their flight pay.” But graduation from Fort Leavenworth was required in order to attend the Army War College, which itself was a prerequisite for a General Staff assignment.
On the other hand, ground staff officers did not like to fly. “They said it hurt their insurance. I believe it did. I think I had no insurance at all for some years there for Mrs. Marshall because of my flying.“
In an effort to be of immediate assistance to the Air Corps, Marshall convinced Chief of Staff Malin Craig to approve the following proposition. But, he recalled, “when I became deputy chief of staff, I found this had never been put into effect.” (Marshall Interviews, pp. 310-11.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 617-618.