Former Fighter Pilot, Curator, Historian to Talk about American Airpower

Dr. Dik Daso will talk about “Marshall, Arnold and the Creation of American Airpower” beginning at 5:30 pm on May 12 in the Pogue Auditorium at the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington.

His presentation will kick off the George C. Marshall Legacy Series sequence on Speed and Fury. Guests can see the exhibition “From Machine to Man” that will open that evening.

Daso is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and a retired Air Force fighter pilot. He received a Ph.D. in history from the Univ. of South Carolina. For ten years he served as the curator of Modern Military Aircraft at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. He teaches 20th century American history at the Univ. of South Carolina.

The public is invited. Call Leigh McFaddin at (540) 463-7103, ext. 138 or send an email to to register. Members will be admitted free; non-members will pay $15 at the door. Seating will be first come, first served.

During World War I, George C. Marshall, as a member of General John Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces in France, witnessed airplanes carrying guns, dropping bombs, and performing reconnaissance. As the number and type of airplanes increased, the Army used airplanes to support operations on the ground. Marshall recognized the significant value airplanes could provide and was an early supporter of developing a robust air program.

Years later Marshall and Henry “Hap” Arnold were working for the War Department General Staff in Washington, DC where they developed a strong professional and personal relationship. Marshall’s limited knowledge of airpower provided an opportunity for Arnold to educate Marshall on the subject and advocate for an independent aviation branch in the army.

During WWII General Arnold led the Army Air Corps while Marshall served as Army Chief of Staff with oversight over the entire U.S. Army. Arnold acknowledged that Marshall’s support for innovation and his military genius made him “one of the most potent forces behind the development of real American air power.” Through Marshall and Arnold’s leadership the air force grew into a powerful component of the Army’s operations during World War II, and the foundation of the modern U.S. Air Force was established.

This event is a part of the Speed and Fury sequence of the Marshall Legacy Series and is being presented with sponsorship from L-3.

The George C. Marshall Legacy Series interprets General Marshall’s legacy through a multi-year series of exhibitions, speakers and programs centered on key themes or episodes from General Marshall’s career.