Benjamin Foulois
Overview
 
Benjamin Delahauf Foulois (December 9, 1879 - April 25, 1967), was a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 general who learned to fly the first military planes purchased from the Wright Brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

. He became the first military aviator as an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

 pilot, and achieved numerous other military aviation "firsts". He led strategic development of the Air Force in the United States.
Benjamin "Benny" Delahauf Foulois was born on December 9, 1879, in Washington, Connecticut
Washington, Connecticut
Washington is a rural town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the New England region of the United States. The population was 3,596 at the 2000 census. Washington is known for its picturesque countryside, historic architecture, and active civic and cultural life...

, to the son of a French veteran of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (1870–1871), and a Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

-born nurse.
Encyclopedia
Benjamin Delahauf Foulois (December 9, 1879 - April 25, 1967), was a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 general who learned to fly the first military planes purchased from the Wright Brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

. He became the first military aviator as an airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

 pilot, and achieved numerous other military aviation "firsts". He led strategic development of the Air Force in the United States.

Early military service

Benjamin "Benny" Delahauf Foulois was born on December 9, 1879, in Washington, Connecticut
Washington, Connecticut
Washington is a rural town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the New England region of the United States. The population was 3,596 at the 2000 census. Washington is known for its picturesque countryside, historic architecture, and active civic and cultural life...

, to the son of a French veteran of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (1870–1871), and a Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

-born nurse. At age 18 he used his older brother’s birth certificate to enlist in the Army to support the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, but arrived in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 just weeks before the armistice was signed. As an engineer, he fought off the rampant tropical diseases, and after five months, was shipped home and mustered out.
On June 17, 1899, Foulois enlisted again, as a private in the Regular Army and was assigned to the 19th Infantry
19th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 19th Infantry Regiment is a United States Army infantry regiment which is assigned to the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, with the assignment of conducting Basic and Advanced Infantry Training.-Civil War:...

, where he achieved the grade of first sergeant. After service in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 at Luzon
Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

, Panay
Panay
Panay may refer to*Panay Island*Panay *Panay, Capiz*Panay River*Panay Gulf* USS Panay *Panay incident...

 and Cebu
Cebu
Cebu is a province in the Philippines, consisting of Cebu Island and 167 surrounding islands. It is located to the east of Negros, to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands...

, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on July 9, 1901. Foulois was transferred to the 17th Infantry
17th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 17th Infantry Regiment is a United States Army infantry regiment. While the 17th Infantry Regiment was organized on January 11, 1812, it was consolidated with the 3rd Infantry due to extremely heavy losses at Frenchtown, and lost its identity two years later until May 3, 1861, when it was...

, and served in Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

, Cottabato and Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

. During two separate assignments in the Spring of 1902 and from 1903–1905, he participated in engagements against the Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao is a large lake in the Philippines, located in Lanao del Sur province in the country's southern island of Mindanao. With a surface area of 340 km²...

 Moros, successfully hunting down and defeating combatant tribal leaders.

Foulois attended the Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from September 1905 to August 1906. He was deployed to perform military mapping in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 before returning to complete Signal School in July 1908 as a 1st Lieutenant. His final thesis was The Tactical and Strategical Value of Dirigible Balloons
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

 and Aerodynamical Flying Machines, within which he demonstrated prescience in such statements as this:

"In all future warfare, we can expect to see engagements in the air between hostile aerial fleets. The struggle for supremacy in the air will undoubtedly take place while the opposing armies are maneuvering for position..."

He forecast the replacement of the horse by the airplane in reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, and wireless air-to-ground communications that included the transmission of photographs. As a result, the staff of the chief signal officer selected Foulois for the aeronautical board designated to conduct the 1908 airship and airplane acceptance trials. After having selected the Thomas Scott Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

 airship as the winner of the trial, Foulois was selected as the first military crewman. He took his first flight on August 18 as engineer-pilot while Baldwin controlled the rudder at the aft end.

Aviation career 1908-1916

Foulois' first aviation assignment was to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps
Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps
The Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps was the world's first heavier-than-air military aviation organization and the progenitor of the United States Air Force. A component of the U.S...

, where he operated the first dirigible balloon of the U.S. Government. The crash of the Wright Military Flyer, procured at the same time by the Army on its final test flight, September 17, 1908, claimed the first US military airplane fatality, 1st Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge
Thomas Selfridge
Thomas Etholen Selfridge was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and the first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane. He was a passenger while Orville Wright was piloting the aircraft.-Biography:...

, and also injured Orville Wright. After one year, Foulois had concluded through his experience, understanding of military dirigibles in Europe, and talks with Tom Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin
Thomas Scott Baldwin was a pioneer balloonist and U.S. Army major during World War I. He was the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.-Early career:...

, that there was no military future for lighter-than-air aircraft. In expressing this opinion to the Army General staff, Foulois recommended no more purchases of dirigibles, the first of many disagreements with the military establishment.

The Wright brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 spent ten months following the fatal crash making engineering improvements to the airplane. By July 1909, Orville was ready to complete the acceptance test for the Signal Corps. On July 30, 1909, Foulois’ first flight in an Aeroplane was the evaluation test flight from Fort Myer
Fort Myer
Fort Myer is a U.S. Army post adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. It is a small post by U.S...

 to Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

. Pilot Orville Wright
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 and observer Foulois broke previous speed, altitude and cross-country duration records, flying at 42.5 mph, 400 feet, and for 10 miles. The Army purchased this Wright Model A Military Flyer, which became "Signal Corps No. 1". The final condition of the contract was to train two pilots.

Foulois and Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm were initially designated to take direct instruction from the Wright brothers, but the Chief Signal officer instead sent Foulois to Nancy, France in September 1909 as a delegate to the International Congress of Aeronautics, possibly as a result of resentment of his outspoken criticism of the dirigible. He returned on October 23 to College Park, Maryland, where Wilbur Wright had begun training Lahm and Lieutenant Frederick E. Humphreys. Humphreys made the first military solo in an airplane on October 26, 1909, followed by Lahm. Although not contracturally obligated to do so, Wilbur took Foulois up and allowed him to handle the controls, then turned him over to Humphreys for instruction. Foulois totaled three hours and two minutes at the controls, virtually equaling the flight time of Humphreys and Lahm, but did not make any landings, nor did he solo. On November 5, Humphreys and Lahm cartwheeled S.C. No. 1 during landing, damaging the rudder and necessitating replacement of a wing, at a time when neither Wright brother was available. In addition both officers were recalled to their branches of service.

While waiting to repair the airplane, the Signal Corps decided to seek a more favorable climate location for flying during the winter. Foulois was directed to report to Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston....

 in San Antonio, Texas and from there he was directed by the Army's Chief Signal Officer, Brig. Gen. James Allen, to “teach yourself to fly.” He did so, and at 9:30 a.m. on March 2, 1910, on the Arthur MacArthur parade field made four flights on S.C. No. 1, which included his first solo takeoff, first solo landing, and first crash.
In the next two fifteen months, Foulois modified S.C. No. 1's elevators at the instructions in correspondence from Orville Wright, and demonstrated the use of the Wright B aircraft for aerial mapping, photography, reconnaissance and the use of the radio while airborne. To end the requirement of using a 60-foot launch rail to take off, he drew up plans for and installed wheels in place of skids, and equipped the S.C. No. 1 with the first seat belt, using a four-foot leather cinch
Girth (tack)
A girth, sometimes called a cinch , is a piece of equipment used to keep the saddle in place on a horse or other animal. It passes under the barrel of the equine, usually attached to the saddle on both sides by two or three leather straps called billets...

 obtained from the cavalry saddlery. As the result of repeated crashes and repairs, many caused by Foulois being "ground shy" (the result of his having no formal training in landing an airplane), S.C. No. 1 became unflyable, and in February 1911 the Army leased a Wright Model B
Wright Model B
|-See also:-References:* * * * * * -External links:* *...

 from Robert Collier. Because Foulois was unfamiliar with the type, the Wright Company sent Philip O. Parmalee
Philip Orin Parmelee
Philip Orin Parmelee was an American aviation pioneer trained by the Wright brothers and credited with several early world aviation records and "firsts" in flight...

 to instruct. On March 3, 1911, Foulois and Parmalee made the first official military reconnaissance flight (without crossing the border), looking for Army troops between Laredo
Laredo, Texas
Laredo is the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. According to the 2010 census, the city population was 236,091 making it the 3rd largest on the United States-Mexican border,...

 and Eagle Pass, Texas
Eagle Pass, Texas
Eagle Pass is a city in and the county seat of Maverick County The population was 27,183 as of the 2010 census.Eagle Pass borders the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, which is to the southwest and across the Rio Grande. The Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras Metropolitan Area is one of six...

, with a ground exercise in progress. Two days later, returning from a cross-country flight, they accidentally shut off the engine, and in trying to restart it, crashed into the Rio Grande River. Neither was injured and the airplane was eventually repaired and returned to Collier.

In December 1913, assigned to the Signal Corps Aviation School at North Island, San Diego, California
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

, the 1st Aero Squadron
1st Reconnaissance Squadron
The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron is a United States Air Force reconnaissance training unit based at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California. It is the oldest squadron in the Air Force, and the first organization to be established as a U.S. military flying unit...

 was officially constituted as a unit of the Signal Corps, and Foulois became commanding officer of its 1st Company, comprising three Burgess
Burgess Company
The Burgess Company was a U.S. airplane manufacturer between 1910 and 1918.-History:The business was incorporated in 1910 as the "Burgess Company and Curtis, Inc." . The company was an offshoot of the W. Starling Burgess Shipyard, of Marblehead, Massachusetts.Burgess was the first licensed aircraft...

 aircraft and 26 enlisted men. Later in 1914 Foulois became squadron commander. The Aeronautical Department experienced a spate of fatal accidents in 1912 and 1913, most involving the Wright Model C
Wright Model C
|-References:*], Dr. Richard Stimson, The Wright Stories...

 airplane, and convened a board of aviators to investigate safety concerns and make recommendations. Foulois, along with Captain Townsend F. Dodd and Lieutenants Walter R. Taliaferro
Walter R. Taliaferro
Lieutenant Walter R. Taliaferro was a United States Army aviator who died in a flying accident...

, Carleton G. Chapman, and Joseph E. Carberry
Joseph E. Carberry
Joseph Eugene Carberry was a pioneer aviator who won the Mackay Trophy in 1913 with Fred Seydel.-Biography:...

, condemned not just the Wright C but all "pusher"
Pusher configuration
In a craft with a pusher configuration the propeller are mounted behind their respective engine. According to Bill Gunston, a "pusher propeller" is one mounted behind engine so that drive shaft is in compression...

 aircraft as unsafe on February 16, 1914, and those remaining in the Army inventory were ordered to be immediately grounded. The following month the board drew up specifications for a tractor-configured
Tractor configuration
thumb|right|[[Evektor-Aerotechnik|Aerotechnik EV97A Eurostar]], a tractor configuration aircraft, being pulled into position by its pilot for refuelling....

 training airplane.

On November 19, 1915, Foulois led the 1st Aero Squadron cross-country flight of six Curtiss JN3’s from Post Field, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to Ft Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, intended as the site for the first opermanent base of the Aviation Section
Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps
The Aviation Section, Signal Corps, was the military aviation service of the United States Army from 1914 to 1918, and a direct ancestor of the United States Air Force. It replaced and absorbed the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps, and was succeeded briefly by the Division of Military...

, the San Antonio Air Center. In 1916 Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 crossed into New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 and killed 17 Americans. In response, Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

 was directed to pursue Villa into Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, and Foulois was ordered to take eight airplanes to provide reconnaissance and communication. On 15 March 1916, Foulois and the 1st Aero Squadron arrived at Columbus, New Mexico
Columbus, New Mexico
Columbus is a village in Luna County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,765 at the 2000 census. The town is named after 15th century explorer Christopher Columbus.-History:...

 for duty. On the 16th, Foulois flew as the observer with Dodd on the first American military reconnaissance flight over foreign territory (overflying Mexico in search of Villa). Within eight weeks, six of the aircraft had been destroyed as the airplane could not contend with the high altitude, severe weather and dry atmosphere.

World War I

"Billy" Mitchell and Foulois would clash bitterly over the years. Both were ambitious, strong-willed, independent thinkers, but Mitchell came from a wealthy family and was the son of a United States Senator
John L. Mitchell
John Lendrum Mitchell was an American politician and a Democratic Congressman, Senator from Wisconsin, and a member of the Wisconsin State Senate. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin....

. Foulois came from a working-class family, and impressed his peers with his willingness to roll up his sleeves and work with the mechanics. Both would play an important role in the development of the independent Air Force, but Mitchell worked by swaying public opinion, while Foulois preferred to make direct testimony to Congress, with often controversial verbal attacks against the military establishment.

From March to September 1917, General Foulois was charged with the responsibility for the production, maintenance, organization and operations of all American aeronautical material and personnel in the United States. In March Foulois worked with Major General George Squier, the Chief Signal officer, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 to detail plans for appropriations of $54 million to support 16 aero squadrons, 16 balloon companies, and nine aviation schools. The French government requested the U.S. provide 4,500 trained pilots by the Spring of 1918, which would require 4,900 training aircraft and 12,000 combat planes. The appropriation signed on July 24, 1917, was for $640 Million, the largest for a single purpose in the history of Congress. On the same date, Foulois was promoted from major to the temporary rank of Brigadier General, to enable him to oversee this responsibility.

In October 1917, he was transferred to France, and had the same responsibilities in France, the British Isles
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. In November 1917 he became Chief of Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, and assumed additional duties as a member of the Joint Army and Navy Aircraft Committee in France; representative of the commander in chief, American Expeditionary Forces on the Inter-Allied Expert Committee on Aviation of the Supreme War Council, and commandant of the Army Aeronautical Schools. Resentment of Foulois’s staff, with 112 officers and 300 enlisted men, most inexperienced and recently commissioned non-flying officers, led to strong criticism from Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Billy Mitchell, who commanded the Air Service Zone of Advance. In his Memoirs, Mitchell wrote:

"Just when things had begun to work smoothly, a shipment of aviation officers arrived under Brigadier General Benjamin Foulois, over one hundred in number, almost none of whom had ever seen an airplane….As rapidly as possible, the competent men, who had learned their duties in the face of the enemy, were displaced and their positions taken by these carpetbaggers."


Foulois wrote:

"...this extract is proof of Mitchell’s disregard for facts" and "While Mitchell had every right to have an opinion about me and my staff, his attitude toward us made our jobs doubly difficult. The seeds of insubordination had already been sown when I relieved him, and his memoirs prove how distorted an opinion he had of himself as an expert on air matters."

In May 1918, Foulois recommended to General Pershing that Mitchell should be replaced. Pershing instead appointed Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Mason M. Patrick to replace Foulois, who then became Patrick’s assistant.
Foulois was appointed Chief of Air Service, First Army, with Mitchell as Chief of 1st Corps Air Service. The ensuing change of command and Mitchell’s unceasing bitterness against Foulois continued. Foulois recognized that while Mitchell was openly insubordinate, disloyal to his superiors, and constantly deviating from the military chain of command in giving orders, he possessed the ability and experience to supervise air battles and create a high fighting spirit, exemplified with the battle of Chateau-Thierry.

In August 1918, when a major loss of coordination between offensive units and replacement units occurred at Toul, Foulois recommended to Pershing that Mitchell become Chief of Air Service, First Army. Foulois was designated Assistant Chief of Air Service, Zone of the Advance.

Rise to Chief of the Air Corps

After the Armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

, November 11, 1918, Foulois served with Patrick on the Supreme War Council, drafting the air clauses of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. Upon his return to the U.S. in July 1919, Foulois was assigned to the Office of the Director of Air Service at Washington, D.C., in charge of the Air Service Liquidation Division, responsible for the settlement of war claims against the United States. Just as quickly as he had been promoted to general officer rank, he was reduced along with thousands of other officers to his permanent rank of captain, Infantry, with a temporary rank of major, Air Service.

In August 1919, Foulois appeared before the Frear subcommittee hearings on aviation, and before the Senate Military Affairs Subcommittee considering the Crowell Commission report (which advocated an independent air force) in October. He testified with stinging accusations toward the Army General Staff and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, the assistant Secretary of the Navy. Having stirred up Washington, Foulois heard that a military attaché was needed in Germany with aviation expertise. Since the United States had not yet ratified the Treaty of Versailles, the allies would not share any intelligence with Foulois, and technically the U.S. was still at war with Germany. Foulois found that the Adlon Hotel bar in Berlin was frequented by many aviation cognoscenti. By sharing food and Allied whisky, Foulois was able to obtain a large amount of aviation intelligence from German pilots who included Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

. After gaining the confidence of these sources, Foulois was invited to join the two top aviation organizations in Germany: the German Aeronautical Scientific Society and the Aero Club of Germany.

Foulois gathered the equivalent of a railroad boxcar full of valuable documents, drawings, technical bulletins, magazines, books, blueprints and reports. By having talked with more than 180 individuals, he had a valuable collection of German aviation knowledge. However, he wrote: "I only hoped that it was being put to good use in America. To my eternal regret, it wasn’t. The lack of an air intelligence collection system, inexperience on the part of the military intelligence officers in regard to aeronautics, and a lack of appreciation for the potential value of the fruits of German genius caused much of the material I sent to end up unopened in a warehouse and later sent to the trash heap."

After many years, Foulois achieved his desire to command a flying unit, and was assigned command of Mitchel Field, Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, in 1925. The same year, Billy Mitchell was convicted in a court-martial, which resulted in his resignation in February 1926.

In December 1927, Foulois began a four-year tour as one of the three Assistant Chiefs of the Air Corps, which carried with it a temporary rank of brigadier general, when James E. Fechet became Air Corps Chief, including a year as Chief of the Materiel Division at Wright Field
Wright Field
Wright Field was an airfield of the United States Army Air Corps and Air Forces near Riverside, Ohio. From 1927 to 1947 it was the research and development center for the Air Corps, and during World War II a flight test center....

, Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

, from June 1929 to July 1930. In May 1931 he commanded the Air Corps exercises, leading an armada of 672 airplanes, coast-to-coast defense flights, combat competition and large scale attacks. The leadership of this exercise earned Foulois the Mackey Trophy for the most meritorious military flight of 1931.

On December 19, 1931, following Fechet's retirement, he was appointed Chief of the Air Corps by President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

, which carried the rank of major general. Foulois had already appeared before Congress on 75 occasions to testify on military matters. During the next four years, he was in constant communication with Congress on the future of the Air Corps, during a time when economic hardships were forcing severe budget cuts.

Coast defense had traditionally been a primary function of the Army, with the line of demarcation the range of its coast artillery guns. The range of aircraft ostensibly confused the issue and opened a competition between the Air Service and Naval Aviation for the mission, and thus for further development of its service. A compromise reached between the Chief of Naval Operations and General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 in January 1931 gave the land-based Air Service the mission, while the Navy was to defend the fleet. Following that, the apparent invincibility of long range Martin B-10
Martin B-10
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934...

 bombers against the slower Boeing P-12
P12
-Education:* P–12 , a designation for the sum of primary and secondary education in Australia* Bright P-12 College, a public school located in Victoria, Australia* Derrinallum P12 College, school in Derrinallum, Victoria, Australia-Transportation:...

 pursuit planes led Foulois and the Air Corps leadership to begin the development of long-range bombers in 1933. Without this foresight, the development of the B-17’s and B-24’s, essential to eventual separation of the Air Force from the Army, would not have taken place.

Foulois was Chief of the Air Corps during the Air Mail scandal
Air Mail Scandal
The Air Mail scandal, also known as the Air Mail fiasco, is the name that the American press gave to the political scandal resulting from a congressional investigation of a 1930 meeting , between Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown and the executives of the top airlines, and to the disastrous...

 of 1934. At the time, commercial air carriers derived stable income from carrying the U.S. mail. Allegations of a conspiracy to defraud the government in these contracts resulted in assignment of all air-mail delivery to the Air Corps, beginning on February 19, 1934, and lasting through May 17, 1934. The 1.5 million miles flown by the Air Corps pilots, with insufficient training, equipment, funding, and experience, resulted in numerous fatal crashes. Foulois became the middleman in a political battle between the commercial aviation owners, Congress, and the military. Foulois viewed the "fiasco" just as historically significant as the first flight
First Flight
First Flight may refer to:* "First Flight" * First Flight , an animated short film* First Flight Airport, in North Carolina, United States* First Flight Handicap, a horse race...

 or the first air combat mission. He believed its lasting effect helped identify the needs of the peacetime Air Corps and the Baker Board's recommendation for a GHQ Air Force. This was implemented in March 1935.

Post-retirement

The 1934 Rogers Subcommittee investigation into improper contracting and procurement awards called for the resignation of Foulois. Although he carried his fight to the public through the media, Foulois decided to retire so that the focus could return to the vital task of building the Air Force in the face of a resurgence in German airpower. General Foulois retired from active duty December 31, 1935, after 37 years of service. In spite of his remarkable career, he left with no farewell from the General Staff, no parade, and no aircraft fly-by, all typical rituals of a retirement of a Major General.

He accurately warned of the buildup of German air power, and the need to build a strong air force and to take defensive measures to protect the East Coast. Prior to World War II, he ran New Jersey’s civil defense program. In 1941, Foulois ran for the House of Representatives from New Jersey's second district, losing to four-term Democrat incumbent Elmer H. Wene
Elmer H. Wene
Elmer H. Wene was an American Democratic Party politician who represented New Jersey's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1937 to 1939 and again from 1941 to 1945.-Biography:...

. He turned down an invitation to return to active duty in 1942, but continued to write and speak for 17 years from his home in Ventnor, New Jersey.

Following his wife’s death in 1959, Foulois was invited by the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Thomas D. White
Thomas D. White
General Thomas Dresser White was the fourth Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.White was born in Walker, Minnesota, in 1901...

, to live at Andrews Air Force Base and become the senior spokesman to promote Air Force issues. He traveled approximately 500,000 miles by air, emphasizing national security to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force at home and overseas.

In 1963, Foulois appeared on the television quiz show I've Got a Secret
I've Got a Secret
I've Got a Secret is a panel game show produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman for CBS television. Created by comedy writers Allan Sherman and Howard Merrill, it was a derivative of Goodson-Todman's own panel show What's My Line?...

, where his secret was that he had once been the entire U.S. Air Force. He recounted his inspiration for the airplane seat belt, saying that he'd had it installed after a crash had almost thrown him from "the damn plane." Foulois' casual use of what was then a television vulgarity provoked a nervous look from host Garry Moore
Garry Moore
Garry Moore was an American entertainer, game show host and comedian best known for his work in television...

.

General Foulois died on April 25, 1967, following a heart attack at age 87, and was buried in his hometown of Washington, Connecticut
Washington, Connecticut
Washington is a rural town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the New England region of the United States. The population was 3,596 at the 2000 census. Washington is known for its picturesque countryside, historic architecture, and active civic and cultural life...

.

Foulois had worked for 18 months with Carroll V. Glines on a biography of his life, though he died before the publicity tour could take place. The book, titled "From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts", was published in 1968, and Glines received ten copies which he sent to various Air Force and personal friends. According to Glines, publisher McGraw Hill accidentally destroyed all copies of the book and the printing plates, and were unable to provide Xerox copies of the book.

The biography was republished in 1980 for sale to libraries; only 400 copies were produced. A new edition of the biography, re-titled "Foulois: One-Man Air Force", is due in March 2010.

As one of the longest living of the first military pilots, Foulois saw the steps into space of the Apollo Program – a direct legacy of his many career “first” milestones. He remains one of the most significant figures in the development of U.S. air power.

Pronunciation of Foulois

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest
Literary Digest
The Literary Digest was an influential general interest weekly magazine published by Funk & Wagnalls. Founded by Isaac Kaufmann Funk in 1890, it eventually merged with two similar weekly magazines, Public Opinion and Current Opinion.-History:...

 "Rhymes with to cloy: foo-loy'." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.) The French pronunciation of Foulois family name is "fool-wah".

Legacy

  • General Foulois was enshrined in 1963 in the National Aviation Hall of Fame
    National Aviation Hall of Fame
    The American National Aviation Hall of Fame is located at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, east Dayton, Ohio...

  • General Foulois is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame
    Military Intelligence Hall of Fame
    The Military Intelligence Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame established by the Military Intelligence Corps of the United States Army in 1988 to honor soldiers and civilians who have made exceptional contributions to Military Intelligence...

    .
  • The Foulois House is a lodging facility on Fort Sam Houston
    Fort Sam Houston
    Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston....

    , Texas, named in his honor.
  • The Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Morningside, Maryland
    Morningside, Maryland
    Morningside is an incorporated town in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The population was 1,295 at the 2000 census. The town developed with the establishment of nearby Andrews Air Force Base and the federal Census Bureau. The government of the town is led by a mayor and town council...

    , is named in his honor.

See also

  • Early Birds of Aviation
    Early Birds of Aviation
    The Early Birds of Aviation is an organization devoted to the history of early pilots. The organization was started in 1928 and ultimately accepted a membership of 598. Membership was limited to those who piloted a glider, gas balloon, or airplane, prior to December 17, 1916. The cutoff date was...


Further reading

  • Borden, Norman E., Jr. (1968). Air Mail Emergency. 1934: An Account of Seventy-Eight Tense Days in the Winter of 1934 When the Army Flew the United States Mail. Freeport, ME, Bond Wheelwright.
  • Cagle, Eldon, Jr. (1985). Quadrangle: The History of Fort Sam Houston. Austin, TX, Eakin Press.
  • Cornelisse, Diana Good. (1992). The Foulois House: Its Place in the History of the Miami Valley and American Aviation. Dayton, OH, History Office, Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
  • Foulois, Benjamin D., Glines, C. V. (1968) From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts: The Memoirs of Benjamin D. Foulois. New York, McGraw-Hill
    McGraw-Hill
    The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., is a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its primary areas of business are financial, education, publishing, broadcasting, and business services...

    . ISBN 040512211X.
  • Frisbee, John L. (Ed.) (1987). Makers of the United States Air Force. Washington, Office of Air Force History.
  • Jacobs, James W. (1984). National Aviation Hall of Fame (U.S.). Enshrinee Album: The First Twenty-One Years. Dayton, OH, National Aviation Hall of Fame
    National Aviation Hall of Fame
    The American National Aviation Hall of Fame is located at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, east Dayton, Ohio...

    .
  • Shiner, John F. (1975). The Army Air Arm in Transition: General Benjamin D. Foulois and the Air Corps. 1931-1935. Ann Arbor, Ml, University Microfilms.
  • Shiner, John F. (1984). Foulois and the U.S. Army Air Corps, 1931-1935. Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History.
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