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First Aero Squadron

From Official Unit Histories, have retained spelling and punctuation mistakes.

Early history of the Air Service. The Air Service had a very humble beginning. The first work along aerial lines starting in Nov. 1914 at which time an aviation school was established at San Diego, California. This school had a personnel of twenty five men and ten officers and was under the command of A. S. Cowan. The work of the school was training pilots and the types of mach- were the Burgess-Wright and Curtiss Type B. It is interesting to note that aerial observation in the American Army had it's beginning in this school. When six planes attempted a military cross - country flight from San Diego to Los Angeles and return. On the return trip the Pilots were to observed troop movement, only two reached San Francisco and but one Captain Dodd made the return trip. It was with this humble beginning that our Air Service Began the development terminating in the present organization.

Early history of the First Aero Squadron. The First Aero Squadron was formed on July first 1915, from the personnel of the San Diego School, Captain B. D. Foulois commanding. The squadron moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma on July 26, and remained there until Nov. 13th. On August 12th Captain Knox and Lieut. Sutton fell from a height of one thousand feet and Captain Knox was killed this was the first casualty in the squadron. On Nov. 19th the squadron moved to Fort Sam Houston remaining there Until March 13th, 1916.

Mexican Campaign. On March 13th the squadron was ordered to report to General Pershing at Casas Grandes, Mexico for immediate service. The squadron was used during the Mexican Campaign for reconoitering purposes to carry dispatches and mail and to keep up communication with the advance troops. During their stay on the border a great deal of trouble was experienced on account of motor and propellor trouble. On May 20th orders was received to repair for immediate foreign service. The squadron commenced moving on May 26th and arrive at Fort Hamilton, N.Y. Aug. 9th. Major Ralph Royce here joined the squadron and took command. Set sail on August 13th on S.S. Lapland on Pier 61 North River at about six p.m. Liverpool was reached on the evening of September 1st and South Hampton on the evening of Sept. 2nd. The squadron arrived at LeHarve on Sept. 3rd and remained at British Rest Camp No.2. until Sept 5th when it entrained for Etamps reaching this point on Sept. 6th. On Sept. 12th it entrained for Avord where training was undergone at a French Aviation School. On Oct 2nd the squadron moved to Issoudon where it did construction work. Left Issoudon Oct 16th and reached Amanty Oct 19th where squadron was equipped with A-R's On Nov. 25th nineteen observers arrived to take a course as aerial observers. These were the first men to be trained in this line of work and the first American Observers to fly over the front; there names are as follow

Capt. R. L. Walsh
1st Lt. R.R. Allen
2nd Lt. G.L. Hammon
W. Bender
C.H. Style
J.W. Cousins
J.C. Wooten
P.D. Meyers
S.W. Thompson
W.G. McNuty
W.B. Cooley
R.H. Whier
J. Phinizy
H.H. Perry
A.M. Seymour
J.H. Snyder
S. Bird
J.C. Henderson
R.H. Neel
B. Saunders Jr.

Regular flying and instruction of observers was carried on at this place until the squadron moved to Ourches on April 4th, where squadron was equipped with Spads and began operation over the front on April 11th. The first combat engage by this squadron was on April 12th when Lieut. Coyle was attacked by three enemy plane, his machine received one bullet hole. The squadron remained a Ourches operating over the front until June 28th when it moved to Saints.

Chateau Thierry Operations. The squadron arrived in Saints on June 30th and began operating over the front July 1st. At this time squadron was equipped with Salmsons which caused some difficulty at first on account of the unfamiliarity of the mechanics with the motor. On July 5th the squadron moved to the flying field near Franceville remaining there until July 27th upon which date it moved to new field at Morass Farm. On Aug. 6th. another move was made this time to Coincy where squadron remained until Aug 20th when it went to Chailly-en-brie for three days repose.

Note.- During the operations in the Chateau Thierry sector, the work of this squadron consisted of reconnaisance, photography and artillery surveillance. It acted as the Army Corps squadron of the First Army Corps and as such did little infantry contact work. There was a large amount of hostile aircraft concentrated on this front and the squadron suffered heavy casualties. In spite of this handicap, the squadron did very excellent work, flying in all kinds of weather, and obtaining information of great value. Many photographic missions were accomplished both with and without chasse protection. The observers who bore the brunt of the work in this operation were Lieut's Baucom, Hanscom and D'Amour and the pilots working most regularly were Lieut's Erwin, Michner and Richardson. Considerable motor trouble was experienced due to lack of familiarity of mechanics with Salmson motors. After a short time however, much better results were obtained and the Salmson is held in very high esteem by the members of this squadron. The squadron was forced to operate far under its required quota of pilots, observers and ships as replacements were very hard to obtain. For this reason every member of the squadron did herioc work in keeping the squadron in operation; mechanics often worked night and day keeping ships in commission and pilots flew twice a day and oftener.

Argonne Operations. On September 22 the squadron moved from Toul to field at Remicourt. Operations commenced on September 26. We worked with the 35th Division from September 24 until October 2 when they were relieved by the 1st when we started work with that division. Lieutenant D'Amour acted as ground liason officer with the 35th and Lieut. Baucom with the 1st. It was then assigned to work with the 80th Division with whom they worked until the end of the offensive. Squadron moved from Remicourt to Julveccurt Oct 5th where it remained until the end of operations.

St. Mihiel Operations. Squadron moved from Chailly-en-brie to Toul Airdrome on Aug 22nd. While on this field practice work was done with the 5th and 82nd Division. On Sept 11th began operations with 2nd Div. with whom we worked throughout the offensive. Lt. Corely detailed to Div. Hdqtrs. as ground liason Officer.


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