Fechet, then a lieutenant colonel, served successively as commander of the Signal Corps Aviation School at Belleville, Illinois in 1917, followed by service as the commander of the Aviation School at Arcadia, Florida, in 1918, and Air Service Officer, Southern Department at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1919. Fechet transferred from the Cavalry to the Air Service in 1920.
Except for 10 months as the commandant of the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field in Texas, General Fechet spent the years from 1920 until he retired in December 1931 in the Office of the Chief of the Air Service. He was assistant chief of the Air Service for more than 2 1/2 years before becoming chief.
In March 1942, 44 years after he had served as a sergeant in the Spanish-American War, the retired Air Corps chief of staff was recalled to help standardize the differing criteria for promotions and decorations in the various Air Force commands throughout the globe. He was director of the Promotion Board at Army Air Forces Headquarters with additional duty as president of the Pilot Allocation Board, Procurement Board and Decorations Board.
From General Fechet's long and eventful experience as a commander in both the Cavalry and the fledgling air arm grew an attitude about military leadership and management that was adopted by top Air Force leaders in World War II who had been his proteges in the 1930s. "Take care of the little people and they'll take care of you" was his dictum. He spent much time on the flight line, in the hangars and in the shops, and often inspected mess halls and warehouses. Morale of flyers and mechanics was to him as important a measurement factor for an operation as flying accident rates and engine failures. His concern for the welfare of personnel extended to career planning. He believed in sending to service schools those officers who showed promise - not those who could most easily be spared from duty. He had a faculty for remembering as individuals hundreds of enlisted men he had served with throughout his career and greeted them by name wherever he went in the Air Corps.
Being chief of the War Department's air arm was particularly difficult in the years between World War I and Hitler's rise in the mid-thirties. The government adhered to the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war and endorsed the concept of limiting the strength of offensive forces. Moreover, the great military potential of airpower was not understood either by the general public or by many key officers in the ground forces.
Despite great handicaps, much of which stemmed from the air arm's subordinate position in the War Department, the Air Corps progressed remarkably while General Fechet was chief.
Under General Fechet the air arm grew from less than 1,000 aircraft to 1,700, organized into attack, bombardment, pursuit and observation squadrons. Big air maneuvers were organized in conjunction with the ground forces. The Air Corps was training group commanders, wing commanders and staffs for higher units.
The great flying center at San Antonio was established - "the West Point of the Air," the Air Corps Training Center headquarters and site of the primary flying school.
The engineering and logistics center of the air arm, the Material Division, was established in its permanent home at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. It directed the work of other procurement and supply and maintenance operations in several states, linked by an air transport supply service.
The air arm was given the responsibility for land-based air defense of the coasts of the United States and the overseas possessions, an assignment increasing the Air Corps' requirements for long range air capabilities.
The Fechet era of the U.S. Air Force heritage was a time of record-breaking speed, distance and endurance flights as the interest in aviation - both military and civilian - was intensified by Charles E. Lindbergh's inspiring flight.