The Court Marshal of Billy Mitchell-A 5-STAR Movie (based on a True Story)

General Billy Mitchell

Brig. Gen. William Mitchell became regarded as the Father of the United States Air because he was instrumental in bringing to the forefront the need for Air Superiority. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Auburn University)VIEW ORIGINAL



The Court Marshal of Billy Mitchell-A 5-STAR Movie



          The Court Marshal of Billy Mitchell is one movie that many modern-day movie goers might not care much to see due to it being in Black and White and because it isn’t “in your face” one action scene after another.  But I promise you, if this movie were done properly, a Re-Make of this movie done right and with an All-Star Cast could walk away with several Academy Awards.  I do believe it and I see many ways the script could be manipulated to ensure a fantastic box office draw. 

            But before I offer any form of Review on the Movie by with one of my favorite Movie Stars in it, Gary Cooper (Remember Sgt. York), I want to draw your attention to one of America’s finest Heroes.  I want to speak to you about his amazing man and not only his deeds of heroism, but his very accurate prophesies for the future.  General William M. “Billy” Mitchell had his finger on the pulse of the future itself.   To be able to predict the future attack on Pearl Harbor and by the same means as it did take place are almost freaky or the work of a man who truly envisioned the absolute use and perfect use of the Aeroplane in future Wars and in Combat.  The man really had his mind together and his actions only proved as to why he can be truly called  The Father of the United States Air Force.

            Yes, this man was a hero in every sense of the word. And now, let’s take a look at why this man is so revered today, shall we?

            William M. Mitchell was born in Nice, France and grew-up in Wisconsin. His birth took place on December 29, 1879.  He was the son of a Representative and Senator John Mitchell and wife Harriet from Wisconsin.  And there were ten children in the family.  In 1898, Mitchell enlisted in the Army in the Spanish-American War and also served in Cuba, in the Philippines, Alaska, and in Europe.

             Around 1913, he became the youngest Officer to serve on the General Staff and was promoted to Captain.  In 1916, he was made interim commander of the Army Aviation after he had transferred to Virginia which was a Division of the Army Signal Corps.  Soon, he was promoted to Major and he then assumed the position of Deputy Commander of Army Aviation.  Here, Mitchell began flying and in flying, his love and devotion to Duty soared.  But love of flying did not come cheap as he was too old to become a Pilot and had to pay and learn to fly by civilians means.


        Brig. Gen. William M. (Billy) Mitchell (left) and General of the Armies John Pershing in France during World War I. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo, Bettman-Corbis) 

            Then in 1917, Mitchell was in France studying the production of Military Aircraft.  But at this time, America declared War on Germany.  And then, Billy was promoted to Brig. General and put in Command of all American Aerial Combat Units in France.  And with his own flying knowledge and superior use of Aircraft and Airmen, his invaluable knowledge paid off at the Battle of Saint Miheil.  In this battle, he commanded an impressive 1.481 American and Allied Aeroplanes. And in this battle Mitchell proved how destructive in battle the airplane could play.  And in it, he sent wave upon wave of planes attacking German Forces across the Battle Fields helping to crush the German ground troops.  And this new attacking by aeroplane during War proved highly successful and he even was the 1st American Aviator to cross enemy lines and was Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his Valor.

           Putting his knowledge into practice at the Battle of St. Mihiel, Mitchell commanded 1,481 American and Allied airplanes. There he demonstrated what air power could do by massing an assault that sent wave after wave of planes to attack the Germans across battle lines destroying their ground power.  And later, he received the Legion of Honor from France.

        Then like in any War, the end also brings in the inevitable of downsizing and loss of War Time Promotions and he was then moved to Colonel.  But like I earlier have stated, Billy was a man with great vison for what he saw was the future and the future he saw as a Separate Force separate from the Army and the Navy.  But he was not going to let go of his vision.  And he pushed forward in his beliefs and what he knew were to bring about all sorts of future means of fighting by men flying and using Aeroplanes in Combat during War.

          Two of his most famous statements that Billy made brought about words of truth and it also brought about the disapproval of his Superiors who were cemented in the past and the future use of aeroplanes deplored them.  But his words did two things-they helped wash away his Military Career and they opened the minds of the Public to something new-A Man willing to Stand on his own Two feet regardless no matter what the consequences and Colonel Mitchell chose Protecting America over his own Military Career.  And the first statement was this- “The United States had produced practically no aerial war equipment since the armistice and consequently, is not capable of meeting any first class power in the air today, as foreign countries had continued development of wartime equipment.”  But then three Navy Seaplanes failed to make it from the West Coast to Hawaii. 


        Sept. 3, 1925, the U.S. Navy dirigible, Shenandoah pictured at a docking tower, was destroyed during a thunderstorm over Ohio. After the crash, Mitchell’s publicize a statement against the Army and Navy for failure to promote military aviation. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) 


          And then the total loss of the USS Shenandoah was deplorable to Mitchell. On September 3, 1925, the USS Shenandoah crashed in the hills of Ohio killing fourteen members. 

         His second statement that the Generals all took Offense to that were spoken to the Press-“These incidents are the direct result of the incompetency, criminal negligence and almost treasonable administration of the national defense by the Navy and War Departments,” Mitchell stated.

          But before the last statement was Publicly made, Mitchell did this-July 20 and 21, 1921, Mitchell and the 1st Provisional Air Brigade made a unique demonstration of immense proportion by sinking what was believed to be unsinkable-OSFRIESLAND, a German Battleship.  And when that baby went down into the Deep Six, the World was forced to take notice and I ask you this-Was Japan paying special attention to this? And during the upcoming Court Marshall Trial, he also stated that Japan would one day attack Pearl Harbor by Air in Two Waves of attacking planes.

            Well, was that enough to make you wonder what in the World was on the minds of the Generals back then and on the mind of Colonel Mitchell?  Well, if so, they I highly recommend you take the time to watch the below movie and see for yourself the wonderful job of acting that is portrayed in this great movie.

        So, pop some popcorn and make a mind-melt with a real hero and his quest to what all of us should strive to achieve and that is-to get it right!

Ostfriesland, a German battleship
Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell and the 1st Provisional Air Brigade demonstrated to the world the superiority of air power, by sinking the famous, unsinkable, captured Ostfriesland, a German battleship during tests in July 1921. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Auburn University)

           Oh and another amazing 1st feat was this fantastic demonstration where Mitchell and his Unit sank the famous, “unsinkable,” Ostfriesland, a captured German battleship.  But as you will see, there were those that claimed DECEPTION and unfairness on how Mitchell demonstrated the Aeroplane and it’s capabilities.  And yes, the “unsinkable” became sinkable.

            But what really appeals to me is the very fact that here is one man willing to put it all on the line for what he believed and he was facing a Crowd that only knew One Way and Use that One Way. And I ask you this?  How many companies do you know that have been sweep aside because Upper Management were Locked into Only One Way of Doing things and Not Open-Minded to Trying New Things?  Yep, me too.  We’ve all seen a bunch and the ones that really amaze me are the ones that Keep their Employees from being able to talk to the Media. Sure, sometimes it does become necessary, but not for every single little piece of everything.


    The court-martial of Col. William "Billy" Mitchell (second from right) was one of the longest and most controversial military trials in U.S. History. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Library of Congress)       

           And if it were not for ones like Colonel Mitchell and his Court Marshal, would the United States Air Force become what it is today?  Yes, I believe that they still would have come around, but they might have been under the Direction of the Army and that might have been a bad thing.

        But a 5-Star Movie?  Yes, it is and always will be. But try to put yourself back in that time period and see if you can relate.  Well, can you?

But the biggest reason I wanted to tell you something about the man himself before I even began to write a Review about the movie, I wanted you to take the time to appreciate the immense contributions of an actual person whose sacrifices has enriched the lives of many Soldiers and many Aviators who have gone on to show the World how true this man’s visions truly were.  And it is my deepest honor to be alive to write about such a wonderful man and only a glimpse of his life.  I hope you enjoyed and the best

The CourtMarshall

Review anyone like me can ever do is by taking the time to now show you right now where you can just “click” and see The Court Marshal of Billy Mitchell Movie for yourselves.  It is an awesome movie about a time when men and women got most of their NEWS from a Drug Store, a AM Radio channel, Newspaper, or from their local Pulpit where a preacher told his congregation about the latest.  Yes, some of the biggest News Stories of all times have come from the Pulpit and still do for some.  But Gary Cooper is as good as he ever was in this movie and so are all the other Actors and one Actress.  So, yes, take a moment to go back into the past.  Enjoy! 


God Bless…the living breathing James Brown, US Army Veteran and author of A Panther’s Father Book Series and the book, Handgun Safety.


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