Tag Archives: Veterans Day

EDDIE RICKENBACKER: AMERICA’S GREATEST FLYING ACE OF WORLD WAR ONE

Eddie RickenbackerBalladeer’s Blog had proceeded from the assumption that most readers were familiar with flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker but comments and emails indicate otherwise. Here’s a look at him as we lead up to another November 11th, now called Veterans Day but formerly known as Armistice Day since November 11th, 1918 marked the end of World War One.

EDDIE RICKENBACKER – “Fast Eddie” Rickenbacker was first known as a race-car driver who competed in four Indianapolis 500’s before the U.S. entered World War One. Upon America’s entry into the conflict Rickenbacker enlisted in the Army and was in France with his unit by late June 1917.

Fast Eddie’s mechanical abilities – honed working with engines during his racing days – kept him grounded as a mechanic for several months. During that period Rickenbacker learned to fly in nearly every spare moment. Eventually he got his wings and took to the air with America’s legendary Hat in the Ring Squadron (the 94th Aero Squadron).    

Eddie made Ace – five confirmed kills – with less than a full month between his first kill and his fifth. Lieutenant – eventually Captain – Rickenbacker scored his sixth verified kill on May 30th, 1918 before getting an ear infection which kept him out of the air for a few months. Many more kills lay ahead of him.   Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

SEVEN AMERICAN ACES OF WORLD WAR ONE

eugene-bullard

Eugene Bullard

For another Veterans Day post I’ll do another shoutout to the Flying Aces of World War One. The movie Flyboys is a good fictional film about their mystique (but based on the real-life Lafayette Escadrille).

EUGENE BULLARD – This African-American boxer from Columbus, GA served in the French Foreign Legion as early as the Battle of Verdun in 1916 and had already won a Croix de Guerre before joining the legendary Lafayette Escadrille on a bet.(!) He qualified but the prejudiced Frenchman Dr Edmund Le Gros rejected him for service.

Bullard instead flew a Spad 7 with French Escadrille 93. Eugene still had an uphill fight against prejudice and the French supposedly failed to credit him with all of his kills, limiting him to just 2 in the official records but tradition credits Bullard with between 5 and 9. He had what may be the best nickname outside of the Red Baron and was called the Black Swallow of Death. On the side of his plane he painted the words “ALL blood runs red” in reference to the bigotry he had faced.

paul-iaccaciTHE IACCACI BROTHERS – In the 1960s young American men would head to Canada to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. During World War One a number of young American men headed to Canada to serve in British Military Units because the U.S. had not yet entered the conflict.

Two of those men were Paul T Iaccaci  and his younger brother August. The brothers served in the 20th British Squadron flying Bristol F.2 Fighters.

Both brothers were Ivy League men – Paul at Harvard, August at Princeton. Both Iaccaci’s became Aces on the exact same day – May 31st, 1918. Paul ended the war with 17 kills and his brother August … kept the uncanny coincidences going with 17 kills of his own. In late October of 1918 August was wounded in the eye and spent the few remaining days of the war hospitalized in England.   Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

HARRY TRUMAN: HIS WORLD WAR ONE SERVICE

Harry Truman World War One

Harry Truman in World War One

Veterans Day is approaching so Balladeer’s Blog is presenting another look at World War One since November 11th marks the date that war ended.

HARRY S TRUMAN, CAPTAIN OF BATTERY D – This future Democratic Party Senator, future Vice President and future President is credited with one of my favorite quotes: “There’s nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know.”

That Show-Me State Seneca was in charge of Artillery Battery D, a hard-fighting unit that was often deployed well forward, in the heart of the action. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918 Truman’s Battery D provided fire in support of the young George Patton’s tank brigade. “Captain Harry’s” boys engaged German field guns, eliminating and forcing the abandonment of enemy batteries at a noteworthy rate. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

SEVEN AMERICAN FLYING ACES OF WORLD WAR ONE

eugene-bullard

Eugene Bullard

For my final Veterans Day post I’ll do another shoutout to the Flying Aces of World War One. The movie Flyboys is a good fictional film about their mystique (but based on the real-life Lafayette Escadrille).

EUGENE BULLARD – This African-American boxer from Columbus, GA served in the French Foreign Legion as early as the Battle of Verdun in 1916 and had already won a Croix de Guerre before joining the legendary Lafayette Escadrille on a bet.(!) He qualified but the prejudiced Frenchman Dr Edmund Le Gros rejected him for service.

Bullard instead flew a Spad 7 with French Escadrille 93. Eugene still had an uphill fight against prejudice and the French supposedly failed to credit him with all of his kills, limiting him to just 2 in the official records but tradition credits Bullard with between 5 and 9. He had what may be the best nickname outside of the Red Baron and was called the Black Swallow of Death. On the side of his plane he painted the words “ALL blood runs red” in reference to the bigotry he had faced. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

HAPPY VETERANS DAY 2016

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day!

Well, it’s been nearly 100 years since November 11th, 1918 saw the end of World War One, or the Great War as it was called before anyone knew a second global conflict would occur. As we all know the date eventually became designated as the day for honoring the people who make it possible for the rest of us to lead our lives in relative safety. 

Irrational political partisans often forget that the only reason any of them have the luxury of sitting back and making pompous, self-righteous pronouncements is because of the men and women who go out and actually DO something. 

And those men and women do it even though they know that Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES

TWO MORE AMERICAN ACES FROM WORLD WAR ONE

With Veterans Day approaching here’s another look at some neglected World War One history.

arthur-r-brooks-betterARTHUR R.”RAY” BROOKS – Captain Ray Brooks graduated from MIT in 1917 and immediately volunteered to serve in the World War that the U.S. had just entered. Brooks got his first 3 kills with the 139th Squadron and 6 more after transferring to the 22nd Aero Squadron. FOUR of Captain Brooks’ kills came in one dogfight as he tackled a squadron of 8 Fokker planes single-handedly. Seriously.

In addition to those kills Ray Brooks had 4 more probables and went on to win the Distinguished Service Cross. He was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor but was not confirmed for it, unfortunately. Brooks flew a Smith IV Spad XIII.    Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

AMERICAN MEMBERS OF THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION IN WORLD WAR ONE

french-foreign-legionNearly 200 American men served in the French Foreign Legion during World War One. Some were expatriates already living in Europe while others joined up to fight the Germans, Austro-Hungarians and Ottoman Muslim Turks. They had to join the French Foreign Legion because – though the war started in August of 1914 – the United States did not enter the conflict until April of 1917.  

Most of the attention goes to flying squadrons like the legendary Lafayette Escadrille and the American pilots who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War One. Balladeer’s Blog will instead feature Americans who don’t get the same degree of exposure.

FRED ZINN – Called “the Battler from Battle Creek” this man was visiting France in August of 1914 when the war broke out. He enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and by October was stationed at the Western Front. Zinn was wounded twice in action by February 1st, 1916, and ended that second convalescence period by transferring to the Aeronautique Militaire unit. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

HARRY TRUMAN’S WORLD WAR ONE SERVICE

Harry Truman World War One

Harry Truman in World War One

Veterans Day is one week from now so Balladeer’s Blog is presenting another look at World War One since November 11th marks the date that war ended.

HARRY S TRUMAN, CAPTAIN OF BATTERY D – This future Senator, future Vice President and future President is credited with one of my favorite quotes: “There’s nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know.”

That Show-Me State Seneca was in charge of Artillery Battery D, a hard-fighting unit that was often deployed well forward, in the heart of the action. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918 Truman’s Battery D provided fire in support of the young George Patton’s tank brigade. “Captain Harry’s” boys engaged German field guns, eliminating and forcing the abandonment of enemy batteries at a noteworthy rate. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

SERGEANT YORK: LEGEND OF WORLD WAR ONE

sergeant-alvin-york

Sgt Alvin York

Veterans Day is just over a week away so Balladeer’s Blog looks at some more World War One history.

SERGEANT ALVIN YORK – At age 29 (yes, twenty-nine) Alvin York of Tennessee was drafted into the United States Army in November of 1917. York trained with the 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, GA. In April, 1918 the unit arrived in Liverpool, England and by mid-May was at Sommes, where they began relieving various units in the trenches to acquire their first field experience.  

June saw York and the 82nd move to Lagney, where they patrolled and raided enemy lines for several weeks. In September York and his comrades participated in the St Mihiel Offensive and in October they fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, during which York earned the Medal of Honor. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Neglected History

FIVE AMERICAN FLYING ACES OF WORLD WAR ONE

sopwith-camelWith Veterans Day fast approaching Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at some more World War One history since that conflict gets much less attention than World War Two.

Similarly, since Eddie Rickenbacker was the most famous American Flying Ace of the war with 26 kills I will cover 5 Aces that aren’t as well known. 

frank-lukeFRANK LUKE – This 21 year old copper miner from Arizona managed 18 kills in 17 days before meeting his own end. In addition to shooting down enemy planes Frank Luke specialized in bringing down the much tougher targets: lighter than air craft. Pilots had to thread their way through relentless anti-aircraft fire AND rockets to accomplish a kill on such craft, making it sort of the fighter pilot equivalent of stealing bases in baseball. 

From September 12th to September 29th, 1918 the deadly Luke made himself a legend, earning copious praise even from the aforementioned Eddie Rickenbacker. Frank flew a Spad 13 with the 27th Aero Squadron. On September 29th the Ace was shot down over Murvaux and was alive but severely wounded after his crash landing. Even so he exchanged fire with German ground troops, with tradition holding that he killed at least 3 more of the enemy before their own fire cut him down for good.  
Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Neglected History