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U.S. Army One

by jenkins-hill (01/11/08).
Army One flight certificate for Col. John J. Kennaley, closeup
Army One flight certificate for Col. John J. Kennaley
Early Army One silk screened patch still attached to the green military  flight suit
Army One patch
Army One glass tumbler, Richard M. Nixon
Army One glass tumbler, Gerald R. Ford era pre-1976
U.S. Army One patch from Vietnam

It began with an urgent phone call on September 7, 1957. President Eisenhower was required at the White House for some urgent affairs of state.

At the time of the phone call, the president was on vacation in Newport, Rhode Island. To reach the White House required an hour long ferry ride across the Narragansett Bay to reach Air Force One. A lot of time for a president. As a former military commander, he believed there was a shorter, more efficient way to accomplish the same task and ordered his staff to find it.

As it happens, a military helicopter, the UH-34, a part of the HMX-1 experimental squadron was on hand as an emergency vehicle to fly the president to Air Force One if necessary. Well, it was necessary now, the president believed and ordered the helicopter into service. He made the trip to Air Force One in a record time of 7 minutes establishing a precedent of presidential service for a squadron of initially experimental helicopters dating to 1947.

In time, the White House established a safe helicopter landing pad on the South Lawn just outside the Diplomatic Reception Room. This became the best way to fly the president and senior government staff to and from sites in and around Washington, DC and Andrews Air Force Base in Anacostia where Air Force One is maintained.

Managed as a joint U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps joint operation, the helicopter when in presidential service was named Army One. This joint arrangement lasted until 1976, when President Gerald Ford commanded that the U.S. Marine Corps solely manage the squadron. So, when the sleek green and white helicopter lifts off the South Lawn of the White House it is known as Marine One.

The patches above are from the era of the joint operation of HMX-1 presidential helicopter service known as Army One from 1958 until 1976. Most Army One memorabilia is very scarce with early patches more so.

Early patches of the Executive Detachment Flight were silk screened or hand sewn patches onto green flight uniforms with the designation of U.S. Army One above the presidential coat-of-arms. These are all 50 star patches which means they were made after 1960 when Hawaii entered the Union. Patches with 48 stars are extremely rare.

Plates, glassware, matches, certificates and other memorabilia during the Army One period are also scarce and hard to find.

One Response to “U.S. Army One”

  1. Shelley Reed says:

    I have a matchbook from 8/24/1975 the Ford Army One. It was a gift to my uncle (a member of the cleaning/catering crew at the Flathead airport)from a crew member. What do you think the value of this matchbook would be?

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