West Point and the Air Force

Charlie Kuyk, Jr. (USMA 1950) and his son Charlie Kuyk, III (USAFA 1973) are writing a book about the influence of West Point graduates upon the early days of the US Air Force. As you may know, the Air Force was established as a separate military service in 1947 and many of its early leaders were West Point graduates. Furthermore, many from the graduating classes in the 1940s and early 1950s elected to enter the Air Force directly upon graduation and many of them went on to have successful careers and a major impact on the Air Force. Charlie sent me the following information in an email that highlights some of the accomplishments of these graduates:
"For our book, although we address the role played by the West Point classes of 1948-1958 in shaping the Air Force, we have expanded the time period under analysis, going back to the early days of flight.  For example, we talk about the Wright Brothers and USMA graduates such as George Squier (USMA 1887) Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Signal Corps in 1907, General Arnold (USMA 1907) who was taught to fly by Wilbur Wright and known as the "Architect of the Air Force", General Carl A. Spaatz (USMA 1914) as Commander of the Air Forces in Europe during World War II, and even President Eisenhower (USMA 1915) and his influence on the Air Force.  Here are a few items that underscore the important role that these USMA graduates had on the Air Force:
1. During the forty years following the Air Force’s establishment in 1947, all but three of the first thirteen AF Chiefs of Staff were USMA grads. General Arnold was the first Chief of Staff of the Army Air Forces and he then handed it off to another graduate, General Spaatz, who became Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

2. Two of these became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (General Nathan Twining and General George Brown).

3. West Point grads served in the Air Force with distinction in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, with 42 grads either KIA or MIA in Korea, 36 in Vietnam. Nine grads were POWs in Korea and four in Vietnam.

4. USMA grads had a huge impact on the formation and operation of the Air Force Academy.  General Hubert Harmon (USMA 1915) was the Academy’s first Superintendent and became known as the Father of the Air Force Academy. All but one of the next ten Superintendents were USMA grads.  Three Deans were USMA Grads. The first nine Commandants were USMA Grads.

5. The USMA grads from this era were very career minded, with two-thirds either serving until retirement, becoming KIA/MIA or were killed in aircraft accidents while serving.

6. Seven USMA grads became astronauts.

7. During the years 1993 through 2003, twelve of these USMA graduates serving in the Air Force received the AOG Distinguished Graduate award.  
Based on these and many other facts, figures, and anecdotes, it became clear that a book on the subject was needed. We hope to have a complete draft in the next few months."