Gen. "Billy" Mitchell, Father of the Air Force

Is your surname Mitchell?

Research the Mitchell family

Gen. "Billy" Mitchell, Father of the Air Force's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


William Ledrum Mitchell

Also Known As: ""Billy""
Birthplace: Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Death: Died in Middleburg, Loudoun, VA, USA
Place of Burial: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John L. Mitchell, US Senator and Harriet Danfurth Mitchell
Husband of Elizabeth Byrd
Ex-husband of Caroline Korell
Father of Lt. John Lendrum Mitchell, III; Harriet Anderson; William Mitchell, Jr. and Lucy Gilpin
Brother of Ruth Knowles and John Lendrum Mitchell, Jr.

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gen. "Billy" Mitchell, Father of the Air Force

William "Billy" Mitchell (December 28, 1879 – February 19, 1936) was a United States Army general who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force. He is one of the most famous and most controversial figures in the history of American airpower.

Mitchell served in France during World War I and, by the conflict's end, commanded all American air combat units in that country. After the war, he was appointed deputy director of the Air Service and began advocating increased investment in air power, believing that this would prove vital in future wars. He argued particularly for the ability of bombers to sink battleships and organized a series of bombing runs against stationary ships designed to test the idea.

He antagonized many people in the Army with his arguments and criticism and, in 1925, was returned to his permanent rank of Colonel. Later that year, he was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing Army and Navy leaders of an "almost treasonable administration of the national defense." He resigned from the service shortly afterward.

Mitchell received many honors following his death, including a commission by President Franklin Roosevelt as a Major General. He is also the only individual after whom a type of American military aircraft, the North American B-25 Mitchell, is named.

use wikipedia link for additional info as follows:


1 Early life

2 World War I
3 Post-war advocate of air power 

3.1 Return from Europe

3.2 Friction with the Navy

4 Project B: Anti-ship bombing demonstration

4.1 1st Provisional Air Brigade

4.2 Rules of engagement
4.3 Sinking of the Ostfriesland
4.4 Aftermath of the bombing tests

5 West Virginia

6 Promoting air power 

6.1 Friction and demotion

7 Court-martial

8 Later life
9 Posthumous recognition
10 See also
11 References 

11.1 Notes

11.2 Bibliography

12 External links

William Lendrum "Billy" Mitchell (December 28, 1879 – February 19, 1936) was an American general who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force. He was regarded as one of the most famous and most controversial figures in American airpower history.

Born in Nice, France to John L. Mitchell, a wealthy Wisconsin senator and his wife, Mitchell grew up on an estate in what is now the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, Wisconsin. Alexander Mitchell, his grandfather, was the wealthiest person in Wisconsin for his generation and established what became the Milwaukee Road along with the Marine Bank of Wisconsin. Mitchell Park and the important shopping precinct Mitchell Street were named in honor of Alexander.

Billy Mitchell attended Columbian College, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He then enlisted as a Private at age 18 during the Spanish American War. Quickly gaining a commission due to his father's intervention, he joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He predicted as early as 1906, while an instructor at the Army's Signal School in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, that future conflicts would take place in the air, not on the ground.

After tours in the Philippines and Alaska Territory, Mitchell was assigned to the General Staff—at the time, its youngest member at age 32. He became interested in aviation and was assigned to the Signal Corps, a predecessor of the Army Air Service. In 1916 at age 38 he took private flying lessons because the Army considered him too old and too high-ranking for flight training.

Mitchell died of a variety of ailments including a bad heart and a massive and extreme case of influenza in a hospital in New York City on February 19, 1936 and was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, proudly named its principal airport, General Mitchell International Airport, after its native son, the father of the U.S. Air Force.

view all

Gen. "Billy" Mitchell, Father of the Air Force's Timeline

December 28, 1879
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Age 40
February 19, 1936
Age 56
Middleburg, Loudoun, VA, USA
Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States