“The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter at Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our Army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do.” — President Trump’s Fourth of July speech
President Trump has come under fire for implying there were airports to take over during the Revolutionary War. Fools, trolls, those with a fifth-grade understanding of history — all of them joined to calumniate him and suggest his statement was wrong. Even he blamed it on the teleprompter. This just goes to show how ignorant most people are of history. They do not know how key the air force was to the Revolution, or how vital taking the airports was. Well, I know.
Recently, I was leading an unauthorized tour of Fort Knox when I happened to bump against a button, opening a long, dark passageway. Cobwebs hung from its ceiling, and there was a skeleton in a tricorn hat leaning against the wall. Deep down the tunnel, I could see a faint light emanating from a pile of documents. I moved closer and saw parchment with writing in a neat slanting hand, bound by a leather cover that read: “BEING THE TRUE AND OFFICIAL MEMOIRS OF THE CONTINENTAL AIR FORCE, 1776-SO FORTH.”
I blew some dust off the cover and began to read:
Dec. 25, 1776: There is much consternation among the troops, and General Washington and his aides are in bitter disagreement as to the question of how best to surprise the Hessian forces encamped in Trenton, New Jersey. I suggested we use the air force. After all, we have an air force. But General Washington does not want to. General Washington thinks that it would be more picturesque if we were to all get in a boat and row across the Delaware River, with him standing in the middle looking steely and illuminated by a light from above. He is very specific about it. I, however, think we should use the air force and just bomb the Hessians. I said, “Sir, you must pardon me, but what good does it do us to have this air force if we do not use it?” But General Washington seems unmoved. I think we are going to do the boat thing.
Winter 1777: We are suffering a bitter winter at Valley Forge, in Pennsylvania. I think the air force is suffering most of all. We keep saying we have an air force and we could go spend the winter somewhere more pleasant — for instance, Florida. But General Washington says it will build character to stay here at Valley Forge. So we are staying. Our morale suffers. I have gangrene now. I think General Washington fears his horse will not want to get on the airplane. But that is no reason for the rest of us to suffer. I am not confident in the general’s leadership, and Benedict Arnold agrees with me.
February 1778: John Adams has been dispatched to the French to try to gain their support, and I said to him, “John, we do not need the French navy. We have an air force.” But nobody listens.
Spring 1778: I have asked Congress for funding for F-35s. I think they will be worth it, if we ever use them, and General Gates agrees. General Washington is very upset that we are asking for so much funding when the army goes without shoes, but I am still mad at General Washington about the gangrene.
Spring 1779: Congress has given us the F-35s. General Washington’s men still lack shoes, but I am glad to have the confidence of Congress.
September 1781: I think we are going to attack Yorktown, in Virginia. Alexander Hamilton is with me, and we are going to make the case that now is certainly the time to use our air force. The pilots are in good spirits to seize victory from Charles Cornwallis.
October 1781: A GLORIOUS VICTORY FROM THE AIR! First we stormed the airports, of course. Once we had done so, we could tell Cornwallis’s morale was broken. We picked him up in our Spitfire and performed a barrel roll, and he said, “The world is turned upside down!” Alexander “The Red Baron” Hamilton — so called on account of his hair — boarded his Sopwith Camel and wreaked havoc upon the British forces. Even General Washington was impressed at how our army manned the air. He said that someday, a future leader of our new nation would speak with gratitude of the actions of our aviators, and, in my heart, I felt certain he was right. They were the key to this war, the key to our freedom, and I hope one day they receive the recognition they deserve, even if General Washington has inexplicably insisted we erase all mention of them from history for the next 238 years.
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