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Americans at War in Foreign Forces

                                          1914 -1945

Foreign Burial American War Dead

Lafayette Escadrille and Flying Corps

From Americans at War in Foreign Forces:

In its full history, the Escadrille was the core group of American flyers in France until it was converted into the American 103rd Aero Squadron in February 1918. The romance of the Escadrille was fodder for American media and led to a growing number of American men who arrived in France to meet the challenge of the sky. The overflow of applicants was addressed by the development of the Lafayette Flying Corps as an umbrella organization. Precise numbers are difficult, but the Escadrille Memorial Foundation listed 269 pilots in the full Corps. A book edited by members of the Corps listed Sixty-five dead from all causes, but the list of burials in the Memorial Foundation’s crypts in the Paris suburb of Marnes-la-Coquette numbers sixty-eight.

​Among the living and dead were many others who would become household names of their time: Raoul Lufberry, born in France to an American father; Kiffin Rockwell of Newport, Tennessee, the first American to shoot down a German aircraft; Bill Thaw of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who distinguished himself early in life by flying a small airplane under the four bridges of New York’s East River; Clyde Balsey of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, the first of the Corps to be shot down. James Norman Hall of Colfax, Iowa and Charles Nordhoff, born in London of American parents, became co-authors of the classic book Mutiny on the Bounty. Bert Hall of Higginsville, Minnesota was either a hero or a fraud depending on his biographer, and a movie director and actor who played himself in the 1919 movie A Romance of the Air.