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To J. Buell Snyder
March 25, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. Snyder:
I have just received your message to the effect that the item for the construction at West Point of facilities to permit pilot training for cadets was favorably reported out of your Committee.1 Please accept my very personal thanks for this action.
As I told John Pugh2 over the telphone, and which he quite evidently transmitted to you, I initiated this business of introducing pilot training at West Point. It was evident to me that the huge increase of the Air Corps demanded a leaven of West Point traditions and training in its officer corps. I felt that certainly for the next two years our efforts should be to assign the largest number of cadets possible to the Air Corps. The Ground Forces have had generations of West Point graduates in large numbers, at times to the exclusion of outside sources, so their situation presented no immediate problem of this character.
The complication involved in the assignment of the newly graduated West Pointer to the Air corps lay in the fact that while his rank dated from the day of graduation, he did not qualify as an air man until almost a year later. This resulted in his juniors in military rank being senior to him in the knowledge of aviation. It was to eliminate this difficulty that I insisted upon the introduction of pilot training at West Point. This, in turn, required immediate construction of the necessary accommodations for planes and crews at the field near West Point.
While it will not be possible for the present First Class to graduate with their pilot wings, we will be able to complete their individual training as pilots in the fall. The Second Class will have their wings when they graduate, and thereafter the system should operate in a normal manner. As was probably explained to the members of your Committee, we count on flying training on week-ends and during portions of the customary summer camp and furlough periods. This in addition to the training that can be managed during the routine periods of instruction.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. On Marshall’s desire to institute flight training at the United States Military Academy, see Memorandum for General Arnold, January 23, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-074 [3: 83].
2. John C. Pugh was an assistant clerk of the House Appropriations Committee.
3. The Sixth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act, 1942, approved on April 23, 1942, included approximately $16,400,000 for the construction of aviation training facilities at Stewart Field, New York. (Treasury Department, Digest of Appropriations . . . 1943 [Washington: GPO, 1943], pp. 731, 855, 898.)
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 148-149.