Regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force, Billy Mitchell joined the Army General Staff before World War I and was soon responsible for looking into whether aviation could aid the war effort. When assigned to Europe, he flew combat missions in France and led the Americans’ aviation efforts there. He was renowned for Army antics and his staunch push for airpower’s independence both impressed and annoyed his superiors. But when the Navy dirigible Shenandoah crashed in 1925, killing its crew, Mitchell uttered a phrase to reporters that would motivate President Calvin Coolidge to call for his court-martial: “These accidents are the result of the incompetency, the criminal negligence and the almost treasonable negligence of our national defense by the Navy and War Departments.” Mitchell was found guilty of insubordination and suspended without pay for five years. He sank into financial ruin and resigned in February 1926. In 1946, ten years after his death, Mitchell was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Franklin Roosevelt for his contributions to military aviation.