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Memorandum for the Chief of the
Air Corps [Arnold]
July 26, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
The Ambassador to Colombia1 as represented to the State Department the importance of enlarging our mission to Colombia, and especially the importance of arranging for the training of mechanics. He points out that to send their men to this country involves very serious difficulties, since the type of mechanic would certainly not understand English, and probably would not have enough education to acquire sufficient knowledge within a reasonable time to facilitate his instruction. The language difficulty, of course, is also complicated from the viewpoint of our sending men to Colombia. He states that at the present time a large percentage of their airplanes are out of commission through necessity for repairs and lack of people to do the repairing.
A little later I will send you a more accurate quotation from the report, but in the meantime I would like you to consider what might be done to assist in this situation, which the State Department regards as very important to us diplomatically.
The thought occurs to me that we might gather together a small group of civilian mechanics, with one non-commissioned officer, or officer in charge, have the Colombian Government make a contract with them, and send them down there, first to start on repairing these planes, and then use Colombians as apprentices, and with their knowledge of the situation develop the beginnings of a school.
I suppose you have already heard directly from your people in Colombia what the situation is. In any event, we probably will have to do something about it, so I will appreciate your giving it careful consideration.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Spruille Braden, financier and mining engineer, had extensive business experience in Latin America. After acting as adviser to various governments conducting loan negotiations with United States financial institutions from 1925 to 1928, Braden served in several diplomatic positions before President Roosevelt appointed him ambassador to Colombia in January 1939.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 24-25.