MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
The name Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold has become synonymous with the birth of airpower, so much so that he is often referred to as the “father of the Air Force.” Gen. Arnold’s grandson, Robert Arnold, visited Air University in search of finding a final home for his grandfather’s memorabilia, Nov. 13, 2019, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Memorabilia items the Arnold family are considering donating include documents, 16 millimeter films, maps and other artifacts dating back to WWII, all of which would be a part of a larger, special named collection, housed at the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center here.
“There’s a number of ways in which [students] could benefit from [the collection],” said Dr. Andrew Stricker, Curtis E. LeMay Center education innovative analyst. “One is to have access directly to the resources and be inspired by the history and story of how the Air Force was created… Today, the modern Air Force faces enormous challenges from around the world and we want our Airmen to understand that we come from a heritage of facing such challenges and to understand the personality and approaches that people like Gen. Arnold had in order to make the impossible, possible.”
If Robert Arnold decides to pass on his grandfather’s belongings to Air University, Dr. Stricker said one of the first goals will be to digitalize the collection so that it can be more easily accessed by students, faculty and other researchers of air power to achieve a better understanding of the Air Force pioneer; this is a feature of the research center that Robert Arnold said he particularly admired.
“I’m impressed with how up to date the use of technology is here,” said Robert Arnold. “That was one thing I was looking to find out: what kind of technological initiatives were going on in the research here at Air University? My interest in having the collection material here is that it could be used by a wider audience and, in a modern world, that means digital technology, online technology and a searchable database. I was excited to find that there were many initiatives running here that would make that possible.”
Stricker explained that the next steps moving forward would be to send a team from AU to the Arnold home to catalog the items and decide the safest method of transportation of the collection.
“I’m excited that his legacy is of interest to the U.S. Air Force and to our contemporary world, because I believe that many of the issues that he dealt with…and overcame are eternal issues for the Air Force,” said Robert Arnold.