U.S.

August 16, 2012

Marilyn Monroe and the general

Tags:
Col. Michael J. Underkofler
514th Air Mobility Wing commander
(U.S. Air Force photo)
Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was the second chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. The general was born at Milwaukee, Wis., in 1899. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy June 12, 1923, and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — Plastered across the pages of many magazines, blogs and newspapers last week were photos and stories about the untimely death of actress Marilyn Monroe 50 years ago. Some authors went beyond just simply discussing her beauty or sexual exploits and opined she was actually quite brilliant. Sources said Monroe worked incredibly long hours, almost singlehandedly, to strategically manage her image to keep the public fascinated. These recent stories and photos have exposed the starlet to a new generation of Americans, many of whom will become similarly captivated.

Besides her beauty, Monroe was famous for her quips and sexual innuendos. When asked what three men she’d like to be trapped on a deserted island with, she responded Joe DiMaggio, Albert Einstein and Hoyt Vandenberg – her husband, the scientist and the Air Force general respectively.

Like Monroe, Vandenberg was incredibly good looking and was featured, albeit not often, on the cover of popular magazines. A West Point graduate and pilot, Vandenberg quickly advanced through the ranks, serving in key positions like the 9th Air Force commander, where he helped to plan the Normandy invasion. He also served as the director of Central Intelligence, the forerunner of the CIA.

Well-known in Washington’s social and political circles, Vandenberg was a gentleman and professional. Despite the daunting task, as the deputy commander of the air staff, along with the Army deputy, he helped carve the manpower, equipment and bases to subdivide the United States Air Force from the Army.

It could be characterized as the most amicable divorce ever, the model of cooperation and agreement. He was an easy pick to later become the vice chief and later the Air Force’s second chief of staff in 1948.

Vandenberg had style too.

He took a major role in designing a new uniform for the Air Force. President Harry Truman liked the idea but told Vandenberg he had to win over Congress.

To do so, Vandenberg and a colonel went to Capitol Hill in the suggested garb. Instead of Vandenberg making the pitch before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, the colonel did.

This was calculated as Vandenberg secretly dressed as a sergeant and kept quiet. When the colonel finished speaking he introduced the “sergeant.” Once the congressmen realized the ruse, they roared with approval and gave Vandenberg the go ahead for the new uniform

As chief of staff, Vandenberg labored on weightier issues too, such as doctrine, force strength and basing – every day a laundry list of tasks to be accomplished to make the Air Force a stronger service. This took a heavy toll on him, but he kept pushing forward.

Vandenberg also decided we needed an air-centric way to address Air Force enlisted personnel. No longer would the first five enlisted grades be referred to by the Army ranks of private, private first class, corporal, sergeant and sergeant first class.

On February, 20, 1950, Vandenberg directed that all Air Force enlisted personnel be called airmen with the first five grades shortly thereafter being addressed as basic airman, airman, airman third class, airman second class and airmen first class.

He wrote, “The habitual use of the term ‘airman’ should aid in distinguishing the enlisted personnel of the Air Force from those of the other services and in identifying them more closely with their chosen service in the structure for national defense.

Like most military members, Vandenberg spent much time away from his family. He sought ways to make his time with them precious and memorable. When his son graduated from West Point, the two of them went to Detroit and purchased a new car off the factory floor and drove it back to Washington. His son, who later became a general himself, said he cherished the time his father was able to carve out of his busy schedule to make that trip.

In 1952 President Truman nominated Vandenberg for a second term as chief of staff, but he only served until June 1953. The general with boyish good looks was ill and retired after serving 30 years in the military.

Sadly, he died of prostate cancer the following spring at age 55. The funeral procession from the National Cathedral to Arlington National Cemetery was one of the biggest in Washington with thousands lining the road to honor him.

Just like Marilyn Monroe, we lost a talent too early. Vandenberg’s life and service to the nation are incredibly instructive: hardworking, dedicated, visionary, professional, courteous and a family man are some of the things I think best describe him. Fortunately for us our military has had many great leaders – officers, enlisted and civilian alike – to learn from and to emulate.

The challenge for us is to make sure we tell their stories often so future generations are as captivated by them as they are of former blonde bombshells.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Don’t become a target

Considering recent threats against Americans and the exponential growth of social media use, becoming a target of an adversary is easier than ever. Operations Security is a process that identifies unclassified, critical informa...
 
 
BreastCancerAwareness_pict

An Airman’s story: My mother didn’t fight alone

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – His green eyes frantically searched the crowd for his dying mother. During his final pass and review at basic military training (BMT) he saw her in the stands, cheering him on. A year later, ...
 
 

Fire Prevention Week 2014

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski) Sparky the Fire Dog, National Fire Protection Association spokesdog, and members from the 355th Fire Emergency Services flight taught children from the Child Development Center how to stop, drop and roll at Davis-Monthan, Oct. 8. The 355th FES conducted several events in conjunction with Fire...
 

 

Troops to Teachers helps Airmen serve after separation

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – For many service members who are separating from the military, finding employment that utilizes prior training or skills gained while serving can be difficult. For Airmen who are honorably discharged from their military commitment and have an interest in ‘serving’ again as an educational instructor, the Troops to Teachers program is...
 
 

Military Tuition Assistance Program implements changes for FY15

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – Air Force active duty Airmen who want to take advantage of the military assistance programs for voluntary education in the coming academic year can expect several changes that were implemented on Oct. 1, 2014. The new Air Force Credentialing Opportunities Online, also referred to as AF COOL, will take the place...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin