THOMAS KNIGHT FINLETTER
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Served as secretary of the Air Force from April 24, 1950 to Jan. 20, 1953
Thomas Knight Finletter was the second secretary of the Air Force.
Finletter was born in Philadelphia in 1893, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with both bachelor of arts degree in 1915 and bachelor of laws in 1920. In World War I, he served with the 312th Field Artillery advancing to the rank of captain. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1920 and the New York Bar in 1921.
Finletter, attorney, student of economic and foreign affairs and author, began his government service in 1941, as a special assistant to the Secretary of State on international economic affairs. In 1943, he was appointed executive director and later deputy director of the Office of Foreign Economic Coordinator. In this post, he was in charge of planning economic activities related to liberated areas and was in control of matters of foreign exchange and matters relating to the operations of the Alien Property Custodian. Finletter resigned his post in 1944, when the functions of OFEC were absorbed by the newly created Foreign Economic Administration.
In 1945, Finletter acted as consultant at the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco.
He returned to public service July 18, 1947, when President Harry S. Truman established the temporary, five-man commission that inquired into all phases of aviation and drafted the national air policy report.
Prior to his appointment as Air Force Secretary, Finletter was chief of the Economic Cooperation Administration's mission to the United Kingdom with headquarters in London, to which he had been appointed early in 1949.
Finletter served as chairman of the President's Air Policy Commission which, on Jan. 1, 1948, sent to the president the report entitled "Survival in the Air Age." This commission had been established in July 1947 to draft a national air policy.