The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Major General Willis H. Hale (ASN: 19A), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism and courageous devotion to duty as Commanding General of the SEVENTH Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces, while leading a heavy Bombardment Squadron during attacks against strongly held enemy bases on Nauru Island and the Tarawa Island during the period 20 to 23 April 1943. Participating in a daring flight over enemy-controlled territory, Major General Hale led his squadron in a brilliantly executed bombing attack upon securely fortified enemy positions and succeeded in inflicting severe damage upon Japanese personnel and material. His forceful and inspiring leadership throughout a vital and hazardous mission, and his superior airmanship combined with the gallant fighting spirit of his command, reflect great credit upon the United States Armed Service.
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the military aviation arm of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. The statutory administrative forerunner of the United States Air Force, it was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926 and part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps was the immediate predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), established on 20 June 1941. Although discontinued as an administrative echelon during World War II, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.
The Air Corps was renamed by the United States Congress largely as a compromise between the advocates of a separate air arm and those of the traditionalist Army high command who viewed the aviation arm as an auxiliary branch to support the ground forces. Although its members worked to promote the concept of air power and an autonomous air force between the years between the world wars, its primary purpose by Army policy remained support of ground forces rather than independent operations.
On 1 March 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces (AAF), making both organizations subordinate to the new higher echelon.
The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure after 9 March 1942, but as "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps.