02/21/06 - marshall and wright flyers

In today's excerpt - George Marshall and a chance encounter with Orville Wright.  George Marshall, at this point is 28 years old and a first lieutenant, but ultimately the architect of victory in World War II as Chief of Staff of the US Army, Eisenhower's boss and Roosevelt's right hand man, and architect of the Marshall Plan—the rebuilding of Europe after the war that led to a generation of peace—stops by in 1908 to see the Wright Brother's miracle of flight.  It is interesting to note how soon after its invention in 1903 the Wright Brothers are marketing the airplane to the military—a foreshadowing of the increasingly rapid adoption of new technology that has led to America's current unprecedented technological military superiority:

"... Marshall stopped by Fort Myer [Virginia] on July 30, 1908, to join a crowd of some 7,000 'present to see the miracle,' Orville Wright's attempt to win an Army contract for Wright Flyers.  The diplomats, cabinets officers, and army officers cheered the fragile Flyer aloft, then marveled as a confident Wright and his passenger steadily chugged in great circles over the fort.  Marshall watched from amid the carriages and motorcars scattered about the parade grounds while the two men in the wood and canvas aeroplane effortlessly traveled the required twenty miles at an average speed of 40 miles per hour.

"That evening, Marshall visited his friend from [the Army School at] Leavenworth, Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois, who had spent the morning as Wright's passenger on the flight.  Marshall and the vindicated Foulois, Morrison men both [Morrison was an instructor at Leavenworth who advocated embracing new methods of warfare against the Army's stubborn adherence to past practices], talked; Marshall ever after would support an army air service, and the airplane as a weapon of war."


Ed Cray


General of the Army: George C. Marshall Soldier and Statesman


First Cooper Square Press


Copyright 1990 by Ed Cray


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