World War One Aviation

Stories from the Veterans themselves:

Paul Baer WW1 ACEPaul Frank Baer, 1st Lt., WWI ACE, Allen County, Indiana

103rd Aero Squadron, Lafayette Escadrille

Croix de Guerre with 9 Palms, Distinguished Service Cross with 1 Oak Leaf,  French Legion of Honor, May 22, 1918, Flanders Front: “Engaged in aerial combat, while on patrol. In aiding the escape of a comrade, was self shot down when outnumbered by enemies.  Fell 15,000 feet, plane crashing through tree.  Taken captive by Germans.

Germany: Prisoner in five different prisons.  Was shot through knee and terribly injured in fall.  Escaped once, but was recaptured.  Released after signing of armistice. Battles: Verdun, Aisne, Cambria, Champagne, Flanders

Previous service: Served with General Pershing's column in punitive expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Poncho Villa, 1916, serving with truck train #43. Later commanded unit.

Professions: Aviator, Oil business ( San Antonio, Texas)

Credited as an ACE with 9 “kills”. http://aerofiles.com/acesww1.html

Note : Enlisted in French army February, 1917. Transferred to American Army, January, 1918. First Yankee ACE, and first to be awarded Distinguished Service Cross. Note: The Fort Wayne International airport is located on the site of Baer Field, originally a WWII airfield named after Lt. Baer.


BAER, Paul Frank (deceased),  First lieutenant, 102nd Aero Squadron, Air Service

Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster General Orders No. 128, War Department, 1918: Northeast of Reims, France, March 11 and 16, 1918. On March 11, 1918, he attacked, alone, a group of seven enemy pursuit machines, destroying one which fell near the French lines northeast of Reims, France.  On March 16, 1918, he attacked two enemy two-seaters, one of which fell in flames in approximately the same region.

Oak-leaf cluster He was awarded a bronze oak leaf for the following acts of extraordinary heroism in action:  He brought down enemy planes on April 5, 12, and 23, 1918, and on May 8, 1918, he destroyed two German machines, and on May 21, 1918, he destroyed his eighth enemy plane.

Legion of Honor, Chevalier (France), By Presidential Decree of April 9, 1918. No specific citation of record.

Croix de Guerre with seven palms (France).

First palm General Order No. 1259, April 8, 1918, 4th French Army:  A volunteer American pilot in the French Army, who immediately demonstrated skill of the first order. He fought numerous combats during which he always put the enemy to flight. He brought down one enemy airplane.

Second palm General Order No. 1260, April 11, 1918, 4th French Army:  A pilot of marvelous ardor who engaged in a combat on every flight. On April 6 he had three fights with an enemy superior in number in the course of which one of the enemy planes went down in flames and two others fell damaged within their lines.

Third palm General Order No. 1260, April 11, 1918, 4th French Army:  A pilot of wonderful daring, he never hesitates to engage in combat with an enemy superior in numbers. He has brought down an enemy airplane (second victory in four days).

Fourth palm General Order No. 5715, April 30, 1918, 6th French Army:  A pilot of the very first order Who constantly distinguished himself by his boldness. Within a period of four days, he succeeded in bringing down two enemy airplanes.

Fifth palm General Order No. 7, May 11, 1918, Detachment of the French Amy of the North:  A remarkably daring pilot who on the same day executed six pursuit flights in the course of which he shot down two enemy airplanes.

Sixth palm General Order No.16; June 4, 1918, Detachment of the French Amy of the North:  He shot down his eighth enemy airplane and on the following day, within the enemy lines, unhesitatingly attacked a patrol superior in number with which he fought a desperate combat during the course of which he disappeared.

Seventh palm Order No.17.522 “D”, May 17, 1919, General Headquarters, French Armies of the East:  A courageous and skillful pilot who was a very fine example for his comrades of the La Fayette Squadron.  He shot down nine enemy airplanes.

Record:  Born January 29, 1894, Fort Wayne; son of Alvin Ethridge and Emma Belle (Parent) Baer.  Automobile mechanic Fort Wayne. Enlisted in French Army, Paris, February, 1917.  Assigned to Lafayette Escadrille; transferred to 103d Aero Squadron, U. S. Air Service: First Lieutenant, Air Service, January 9, 1918.  Overseas February 4, 1917-February 1, 1919.  Battles: Verdun, Aisne, Cambrai, Champagne, Flanders. Wounded May 22, 1918, Flanders front while on aerial patrol; fell 16,000 feet in plane, when outnumbered by enemies, in aiding the escape of comrade. Discharged February 6, 1919.  Died November, 1930, Buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne.  The Paul Baer Municipal Airport, Fort Wayne, is named in his honor. 


Reuben S. Johnson, Corporal, Air Service, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

"Entered service Aug, 11, 1917 and stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Mo. Sent to Kelly Field, Tex.; transferred to Mineola, N. Y., and sailed for Liverpool, Eng., Nov. 4, 1917.  Started training as air mechanic with the Royal Flying Corps and transferred to the suburbs of London, Dec. 9, 1917.  Transferred to American rest camp at Winchester, Jan. 8, 1918.  Sent to suburb of Birmingham, Jan. 12, 1918 and took up training in night bombing attached to the 38th squadron, Royal Flying Corps, under command of Major Wigeram.  Left for France May 3, 1918 and was stationed with the British in a suburb of Dunkirk.  Worked in connection with the Navy bombing in Ostend, Bruges, Zebrug and a munitions dump in Belgium.  Remained in active service in France until Aug. 12, 1918, when he was sent back to England, Ford Junction, Sussex, to organize an American squadron of Handley Pages’ bombing planes and was ready to return to France when the armistice was signed.  Sailed for the United States Nov. 23, 1918, on the British ship “Minnehaha.”  Landed in New York, Dec. 4, 1918, and received his honorable discharge from Camp Sherman, Ohio, Dec, 20, 1918.  Born at Clarks Hill, Ind., Oct. 11, 1891, son of Closs A. and Emiline Edith Johnson.  Attended Clarks Hill schools.  Home is Clarks Hill, Indiana."

Handley Page AeroplanePhoto from Wikimedia.org:

The Handley Page "The Bloody Paralyser" was the largest aeroplane built in England having a wingspan of 126 feet, two engines, six machine guns and the ability to carry two giant or thirty smaller bombs and a range sufficient to reach Berlin.  They arrived late in the war effort and only 35 were constructed before the Armistice was declared.  The wings folded for storage

For further information on the Handley Page, Long range heavy bomber biplane see:


Jesse Nelson Tippy, Grant County, Indiana  

Chauffeur, Air Service, Squadron B, Kelly Field, Texas

Return to civil life: “Same old job, Parcel Post Carrier”

Seth Llewellyn Baker, Electrician, U.S. Navy, Marion County, Indiana

Foreign service: landed Brest, France, May 23, 1918. Reached US Naval air station, Pauillac, France, May 27. Transferred to Moutchie-Lacanan, Gerande, Air Station for instruction in Observer School.  Transferred to Northern Bombing Group Squadron #1, Field A, St Inglevert, France, August 22, 1918.  Did night bombing over Belgian with Squadron 214, RAF.  Moved with part of Squadron to the Aerodrome at Marie-Aalter, Belgium, November 6, 1918.

“The observers (all enlisted men) stationed with the Northern Bombing Group Squadron #1, Field A, St. Inglevert, France were assigned to the British Air Squadrons located nearby, (such as 214 and 218 RAF Squadrons) for actual work at bombing over the line as the American planes, (big Caproni’s) were of little actual worth for bombing purposes.  The planes used for night bombing were Handley-Pages carrying three men, pilot, observer and gunner.  Twin Lewis machine guns in the observer’s cockpit, foreword, and three guns aft.  These planes carry 2,000 pounds of bombs.”

Lawrence Joseph Nickol, AEF, Ripley County, Indiana

“The repair station at Speedway, Indianapolis was the largest in the United States.  All the Flying Fields in the Eastern half of the US sent their planes here for repair.”

Canvas Airplane Hanger

Aero Station on the Front, A canvas hangar for protection of planes on the actual fighting front.


Freedom’s Triumph Photo courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives



Bernard L. Schultz, 1st Lt, Flight Commander, Air Service, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

"Entered service Aug. 20, 1917, being the first man in Tippecanoe County to enlist in the air service. Stationed at Columbus, O., where he received his training in ground work. Was selected for overseas training as a reward of merit, sailed for France, Oct. 26, 1917. First trained in flying at Tours, France and was appointed instructor. His plane fell July 13, 1918, due to a defective motor. Received several cuts about his head and arms and the ligaments of his right hand were strained. Finished training at Issoudun and St. Jean de Monts.  Qualified as a chase pilot. Assigned to 638th Squadron, 5th Pursuit Group, and was made the flight commander.

Landed in the United States in February, 1919.  Born at Shelbyville, Ind., Dec. 4, 1893, son of Moses and Fannie L. Schultz. Attended Northwestern University. Home is Lafayette. Ind."

WW1 Sea Plane

Seaplane: Port Washington, plane at Wanamaker Station National Archives Photo, courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives

To see actual footage of the Story of Naval Aviation http://www.realmilitaryflix.com/public/847.cfm


Henry Earl Eads, Naval Aviator, Ripley County, Indiana 

"Embarked from Philadelphia, PA., on October 16, 1917, on the USS DeKaulb, for the Naval Aviation Force.  Arrived at St. Nazaire, France, October 28, 1917.

Service: Night bombing raids from Dunkirk, December 26, 1917 through August 10, 1918.  In August 1918 he was assigned to Zeebrugge, Belgium, preparing air aviation base that was completed on November 11, 1918.  Dunkirk was under shell fire during the entire war from the air, land and sea. Airplanes, long range guns and every sort of bombarding weapon were used from time to time. The bomb raiding parties went out every night unless it rained.

There were only 125 men in this special Naval Air Force, which was never increased but was kept up by replacement men. Only fourteen men were lost from the unit. English planes were used.  The camp was built after the arrival of the force at Dunkirk in 1917.  At one time a Lieutenant went up in the plane in Ead’s place, at the request of the Lieutenant.  The plane fell inside of German lines and the Lt. and the aviator were held prisoner in Germany until after the Armistice.

Wounded June 15, 1918. Fell with his air-plane about 300 ft., injuring (sprain and bruised) knee."


Sergeant James Arthur Miller, Air Service, Motor Mechanic, Marion County, Indiana

Received complementary letter from Marshall Foch for rescuing burning plane and occupant from enemy fire.

Battles: St. Mihiel Salient, Argonne and several air raids out of Paris.

Shrapnel wound in left leg during advancement in St. Mihiel Drive. Received medical aid at Gievres.  Discharged July 17, 1919. “I would not take a million dollars for my experience, but wouldn’t give a dime to go through it again.”


Corp. Chas. Schanke

Corp. Charles Frank Schanke (Charlie), 4th Co., Regiment, Air Service Mechanics, Marion County, Indiana

Flew the Curtis J-N 4 aircraft after repairing the engines to prove they were repaired correctly.

Photos of the Regimental Patch, Air Service Mechanics Patch and dog tags from WW1 uniform of Charlie Schanke courtesy of his family.

Regimental PatchAir Service Mechanic Patch

Charles Schanke's WW1 dogtags

The Lafayette Escadrille

American pilots, restless with US neutrality, volunteered to serve with the British and French forces.  The romanticized elite flying squadron, The Lafayette Escadrille was organized with US volunteers.  They scored 39 victories in fighting the Germans but nearly a third of the unit died in the effort.  Germans controlled the air, holding both the world endurance and distance records.  The Fokker Eindecker, with an 80 HP engine was capable of a top speed of 82 MPH.  The plane was equipped with a synchronized machine gun and Allied pilots described their own planes as “Fokker fodder”.  

The Allies countered with the deHavilland. The DH2 was capable of 90 MPH and carried a Lewis machine gun.  

To see early footage of the evolution of the United States Airforce featuring the Lafayette Escadrille and WWI dogfights. http://www.realmilitaryflix.com/public/515.cfm


 Carroll D. Eaglin, 103rd Aero Pursuit Squadron, Lafayette Escadrille, Jefferson County, Indiana

“The other day a little French soldier wandered into our camp and told us what happened to his family. He is 15 years old, very small, and has been in the trenches for 30 months.  The Huns killed his mother and a little five-year-old brother, and he was with his father, who was a lieutenant, until he was killed.  He went “over the top” with his dad, and was wounded at the same time his dad was killed.  We are going to keep him now and have him dressing in an American uniform.  He sure is living the life of Riley.  All he can say in English is ‘under your bunk,’ and ‘good morning.’ ‘Under the bunk’ is a saying the boys here use when there are German airplanes about, ready to drop shells on us.  This is done mostly at night and sure makes you a little nervous.”

WW1 91st Aero Squadron, Capt. Cook
91st Aero Squadorn:

Captain E. R. Cook and Lt. T. M. Jervey (Only flying Ordinance officer at the front) showing insignia of the 91st Aero Squadron.  Lt. Jervey has shot down 3 Germans and Captain Cook, 5, Varincourt, Meuse, France.

Photo courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives

Film about the 94th Aero Squadron in France http://www.realmilitaryflix.com/public/522.cfm


Ronald Gordon Ratcliffe, Sergeant, 91st Aero Squadron, Knox County, Indiana

“Camp life in the early part of the war was very hard.  The first three months was, on account of not having necessities. Suffered many hardships. “The 91st Aero Squadron in a summary of work performed by them, from May 29th to November 11th, 1918.

  • Destruction of enemy planes (confirmed) 21

  • Number of Combats 139
  • Successful Negatives 3,700
  • Number Taken As Prisoners (German) 9
  • Number Killed 13
  • Number Wounded 13
  • On December 2, 1919 went into Treves on the Moselle.
  • On January 15, 1919 went to Coblenz and was there until May 1919, with the Army of Occupation.”
  • Battles: Chateau-Thierry, Marne, Argonne

WW1 Balloon paratrooperBalloon Parachute jumper

CN3125 Group 64, National Archive Photo Courtesy of Indiana War Memorial

Observers were sent up in wicker baskets, with cameras, sketchpads and a wireless set, to identify enemy troop movements. Usually the two man crew could see as far as forty miles and direct artillery fire, identify troop concentrations and site enemy planes. They were irresistible targets for the opposing forces.  Highly protected, with AA guns and long range machine guns, and floating at high altitudes of over 4,000 feet, it was difficult for the enemy plane to take a balloon down and make a clean escape.  Ordinary rifle fire would pass harmlessly through the hydrogen gas bag causing damage but not immediate destruction.  British pilots would never attack a balloon under 1,000 feet as the Machine Gun fire from the ground forces was deemed too dangerous.  The balloons were tethered and would be pulled down quickly with a motorized winch once a fighter plane was spotted.  The Germans developed a flat nosed .45 caliber, incendiary, machine gun bullet, they dubbed the Buckingham Bullet, specifically to take down Zeppelins over England.  The risks to the balloonist were enormous as they hung under huge hydrogen filled targets.  They were the only group routinely fitted with parachutes but the early parachutes had a high failure rate.  Balloonist would only jump in dire emergencies.


Ralph Romeo Hyatt, Corporal, Navy, Ripley County, Indiana

“Did telegraph and electrical work.  A telephone was installed in the basket of each balloon.  These were connected with the battery commanders of each battery of artillery.  The balloonist did observation work, reporting the positions of enemy artillery, troop maneuvers behind the lines, any unusual movements, concentration of troops and so on and also adjusted artillery fire at the targets.

“French made balloons were used when first reaching France. Later American balloons, made mostly by the Goodyear Rubber Co., at Akron, Ohio were used.  The types used were the sausage balloons. Two or three men went up in each basket, two being the rule. The balloons were shaped like elephants bodies, 35 or 36 meters long, about on third as wide. The bags were made of silk and rubber.  It required 200 cylinders of gas containing 192 cu. ft. to fill the bag of each balloon at a cost of $200. Hydrogen gas was used.  The baskets, 4.5 ft. sq. by 5 ft. deep, made of bamboo, tough and light, suspended from the rigging of the balloons by ordinary hemp or cotton ropes.

“There were 23 balloon companies in the American Front in the last three months of fighting, all being used at St. Mihiel. Captive balloons were held by cables attached to motor-driven winches, which were moved by motor trucks. 42 balloons were destroyed by German shellfire and from air-planes.”

WW1 Caquot Barrage Balloon

Caquot style Barrage Balloon launch.

They were tethered above areas of bombing interest in the hope that enemy planes would be forced to fly at higher altitudes, decreasing their effectiveness.

National Archives Photo Courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives

See WW1 Allied Balloon and Big gun operations footage at

George Edgar Goldthwaite, 24th Aero Squadron, Distinguished Service Cross, Grant County, Indiana  

1st Lt, Pilot and flight commander, 24th Aero Squadron, 1st Army Observation Group

Participated in operations at Toul Front and St. Mihiel offensive, August through September, 1918; Argonne-Meuse offensive September through November, 1918.

Received the Distinguished Service Cross for observation work over German lines near Bantheville (NW of Verdun), locating a concentration for counter-attack, October 15, 1918.  “Lt. Goldthwaite and his observer flew generally at an altitude of 400 meters, at times as low as 50 meters, 5 km into the enemy's lines.  Antiaircraft guns riddled his plane with bullets, piercing the gasoline tank and drenching both pilot and observer.  He continued on until the enemy's concentration was located, and military information of great value was secure.  The bravery of Lt. Goldthwaite saved many lives of American Soldiers and brought large losses to the enemy.”

Formal award made by Major General Liggett at Souilly, France, 1st Army Hdqtrs., December 15, 1918.

Received Citation for photographic mission performed November 5th, 1918 when his plane, flying alone, was attacked by five German planes.  Observer Capt. Spessard L. Holland, of Bartow, Fla., shot down one of the enemy planes and drove off the rest. (place) Foret de Spincourt. WW1 Photography Plane


American Photographing Plane

American aviators had completed photographing the battle fronts and German cities by the time the armistice was signed.

Freedom’s Triumph Photo courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives


James Walters Sandlin, Cpl., 148th Aero Squadron, Vanderburg County, Indiana

My work in France was done with 148th Aero Squadron, US Air Service which had several Indiana boys as members.

The 148th was one of two air units who saw all of their active service as American Squadrons attached to the British, the other was the 17th.  Both outfits made excellent records for themselves in the United States.  Major Newhall commanding the 148th, Major Eichert commanding the17th, and Lt. Col. Fowler commanding U.S. Air Forces with the British.

WW1 Aviation Collar Insignia



Aviator Collar Insignia

Indiana War Memorial archives




Charles T. Carll, 2n Lt., Aviation, Marion County, Indiana

Conscripted into aviation in Washington DC, January 2, 1918.  Joined American Field service, May 26, 1917. Served six months in France with the French army until November, 1918.  Enlisted and passed examinations both in Paris and Washington for aviation. Called to Columbus Ohio, May 11, 1918, for ground school. Sent to Carruthers Field, August 20. On January 10, 1919, with but one half-hour more flying, fell 2,300 feet, but only slightly injured.  Commission 2nd Lt. March 3, 1919, discharged March 15, 1919.

Leviathan Zeppelin R-34, WW1The Airship’s Conquest of the Atlantic

"The monster’s size, the immensity of R-34, is shown by seeing the comparison of this aerial Leviathan with Trafalgar Square."

Freedom’s Triumph, Courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives


The Zeppelins cruising speed was often as fast as the pursuing plane, and they were fully armed with machine guns to greet any aeroplanes that came near.  They would be launched at dusk and arrive over England in the dead of night to drop bombs on the easily targeted lit cities but were notoriously inaccurate.

Later planes with more powerful engines were armed with incendiary, phosphorus laced bullets, designed specifically for a Zeppelin attack.  British pilots eventually evened the score, and it was said a Zeppelin burning would light the night sky.

See The Zeppelin Library Archive, http://www.ciderpresspottery.com/ZLA.html for further information.


Arthur Charles Stone, Naval Aviation, Pennsacola, Florida, Vanderburg County, Indiana  

Was the only Dirigible Pilot in the service from Vanderburg County.


George Washington Steele, Lt.-Commander, U.S. Navy, Grant County, Indiana

Aid to the English Vice Admiral and the French Rear Admiral in Washington

Assigned to Army Convoy Service, Commander USS Henderson

The Henderson made fourteen trips across, and on the fifteenth, the ship took fire at sea.  After 24 hours of fighting it, troops were transferred to other vessels and the ship returned to port.  Commended and personal letters by the Secretary of Navy and War for efficiency and organization on board the USS Henderson.

Now Commander: airship, Los Angeles, Lakehurst, New Jersey.  Was sent to Germany to superintend the finishing and transfer of the Giant Dirigible and brought it over in 1924.


Charles E. Cox Jr., Air Service, Combat Pilot, Marion County, Indiana

Sent overseas, October, 1917. Receive training in Italy and Issodon, France.  He was a combat pilot with the 1st Pursuit Group, 147th Aero Squadron at the signing of the armistice.

WW1 Aviator Collar Insignia

Embroidered Officers Collar Insignia on impeccably custom made WW1 US officer's uniform.  Uniform tailored in Paris.  Indiana War Memorial Archives




Glen Cecil Waples, 2nd Lt., Air Service Aeronautics, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Entered service Sept. 22, 1917. Stationed at Camp Taylor, Ky., and appointed corporal.  Later received the rank of sergeant, Co. C, 309th Field Signal Battalion, in December, 1917.  Transferred to Urbana, Ill., in March, 1918, where he attended ground school of Military Aeronautics. Sent to aviation field in Texas, where he received his commission.  Was there when the armistice was signed. Born at West Point, Ind., July 22, 1893, son of Jacob E. and Alice C. Waples. Graduate of Purdue University.  Home is Clarks Hill, Ind. 

Early in the war pilots dropped incendiaries, explosives and propaganda.  Actual bombing raids didn’t take place for the Germans unit late in 1914 and it wasn’t until 1917 the British DH4 bomber became a mainstay for reliable day bombing. They flew in tight formations of six to twelve, maintaining their positions while carrying two 230 lb. bombs (or four 112 lb.) hung from the lower wing.

WW1 Paraboloid

American Paraboloid

Used sound as a primary finder for locating airplanes at night.

Freedom’s Triumph, Photo Courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_mirror for further information.


  Edward James, 2nd Lt. Aviation Corps, Marion County, Indiana

Unidentified newspaper clipping (Indiana State Library)

Edward James, son of Mr. Mrs. David J. James, 41 Whittier Place, has received a commission as pilot and 2nd Lt. in the United States Aviation Corps.  James was a student at Butler College last winter when he enlisted. He received his earlier training at the Ground School at Rantoul, Ill. James has a brother, Charles James, who is the Corporal in Battery E., 150th Field Artillery, AEF, and who has been wounded severely and gassed in action, but who is back on the firing line.  Edward James has a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and of the BBS club in Irvington.


Sterling Holt Keene, Sergeant, Signal Corps, Marion County, Indiana

1st motor mechanics, Richmond, South Carolina, later designated 1st Air Service Mechanics Regiment, was the1st Regiment of Motor Mechanics for Air Service work ever formed and was the1st Regiment of Motor Mechanics to land on foreign soil.

Observation Planes WW1


"Observing Planes Making a tremendous din as they hover over headquarters at the US Marine Aviation Field"

Freedom’s Triumph, Courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives

Aerial warfare evolved. It was deemed an unfair advantage to drop bombs or projectiles from above and actually prohibited at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference at the Hague.

“The Undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments, inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St. Petersburg of the 29th November (11th December), 1868,

Declare that: The Contracting Powers agree to prohibit, for a term of five years, the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons, or by other new methods of similar nature.

The present Declaration is only binding on the Contracting Powers in case of war between two or more of them.

It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Powers, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power.” http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague994.htm

 WW1 Air Service, J. Trowler



James Bentley Towler

Photo from “Decatur County in the Great War” Soldiers records and miscellaneous clippings collected by Mrs. George Deiwert, 1924.

2 Vols. Indiana State Library, Accession #101014 I940.3772 II 291d

James Bentley Towler, 186th Aero Squadron, Decatur County, Indiana

Signal Corps. Trained at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas and served overseas.  He participated in the battle of Meuse-Argonne.




Byron Arthur Smith, Private, Air Service, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Entered service Feb, 16,1918. Stationed at Columbus Barracks, O., Sent to recruiting lines at Kelly Field, Tex., and ten days after arrival, was placed in the first Omaha Detachment and transferred into the 14th Balloon Corps.  After four months of training, he was sent to the port of embarkation at Morrison, Va., where he was transferred to 28th Balloon Corps.  Was ill for a time and after his recovery was sent to Camp Lee Hall, Va.  His company, with four other companies, built the U. S. Army Balloon School, at a branch of Camp Eustis, Va.  On Christmas Day, 1918, was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., where he was assigned to special work of testing some new devices.  Born at Logansport, Ind., May 16, 1899, son of Joseph William and Jane Smith.  Graduate of Indianapolis high schools.  Home is Lafayette, Ind.

Harrison Dale Miller, Sergeant Major, Marion County, Indiana

Sergeant Major of Aviation Examining Board, Indianapolis Indiana November 16, 1917 to March 10, 1918.  Served at Scott Field, Belleville, Illinois; Dayton Wright Airplane factory, Dayton, Ohio, April 7, 1918, to May 22, 1918; Ellington Field, Houston Texas, May 25 to July 5, 1918; Mitchel Field, Garden City, Long Island, New York from July 5 to December 11, 1918. Sergeant Major and Mitchel Field Long Island, New York, from July 10 to December 11, 1918.

Was on duty requiring frequent and regular aerial flights per S. O. of Hdqtrs., 1st Provisional Reg.   Was the only non-commissioned flier on the field.  Participate in 354 hours of aerial flights with only one fall.  Received honorary discharge per S. O. 300 HQ, Eastern department on December 11, 1918 from Mitchel Field, Garden City, Long Island, New York.

 WW1 Love Field, Dallas Texas

Love Field: Opened October 19, 1917 and named for early Military Aviator,1st Lt, Moss Lee Love, 11th Cavalry, who died in an airplane crash in San Diego, CA., in 1913.

The Associated Press reported that Texas cattle would eat the linen wings of an unguarded Curtis JN-4D (Jenny) airplane. Some 6,000 men were trained on the Jenny before the war was over.

Love Field, Aviation Training Center, Dallas, Texas.  National Archives Photo, courtesy of Indiana War Memorial Archives  


John Frank Gauck, Batesville, Ripley County, Indiana

“General Headquarters, in organization, was a branch of the US Infantry, succeeded Headquarters Troops, Cavalry, brought over by Pershing in Fall of 1917.  It was organized about March 1, 1918.  It consisted of three Companies, A, B, & C. A fourth, D, went to Tours in the supply service, S. O. S., as it was called.

Companies A, B, & C, Headquarters Bn., were in the zone of advance, General Hdqtrs., Chaumont, France.  This was inside the danger zone, D Co. at Tours, in supply service was in the safety zone.

Air-planes came over every night from the enemy lines during the last five months of the war.  A big “ammunition dump” was a Choncery, six miles from Chaumont, the largest ammunition dump of the Allied Forces. This was the air-plane’s particular objective.  They also scattered propaganda circulars, dodgers, cards, asking such questions as: ‘Why are the Americans fighting, you can’t win the war.’

Soldiers were buried as follows in the American Cemetery at Chaumont.  Nine were put into one grave, each in wooden, box-shaped coffins.  About 1,000 were buried there. Base Hospital No. 90 was at Chaumont, on the banks of the Marne. When buried on the battlefield, bodies were rolled into blankets and buried without coffins.  The Administration Co. buried the dead and kept records.  One remained on the body, one on the marker on the top of the grave.  At Chaumont the names were put in big wine-bottles on slips of paper and sealed.  Each grave had a cross with name and so on…”


Albert E. Weaver, 1st Lt, Air Service, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Enlisted June 20, 1917.  Attended ground school at Ohio State University.  Was sent to England for flying training and commissioned in May, 1918.  Saw active service until the end of the war as pilot in 166th Aero Squadron.  Was in bombing raids on the western front and in six aerial battles and also served with the Army of Occupation.  Born in Monitor, Ind., April 9, 1889, son of Samuel P. and Madiena Weaver.  Graduate of Purdue University, 1913.  Home is Lafayette, Indiana, Route 2.

Edgar William Tatman, 1st Lt., Shelbyville Indiana, Shelby County, Indiana

“Enlisted May 11, 1917. Entered Officers Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, May 15, 1917.  Commissioned 1st Lt. of Ordnance, United States National Army, August 22, 1917.  Studied the manufacturing and operations of machine guns at the government arsenal school in Washington DC and Utica, New York.  Studied and tailored this work in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Served in charge of troops at Camps Cox and Jackson.

In France: Studied and taught the synchronization of machine guns and bombing and methods of dropping bombs from airplanes at Ordnance Armament School near Juan de Mont., about 50 miles from Nantes, France.   Had charge of the salvage of small arms at Mehun e Yeine.

He is the author of a book on aerial bombing.  He was to leave November 11, 1917 for the front, to engage in the work of dropping bombs from airplanes.  Discharged August 22, 1919."


Indiana War Memorials