Douglas Campbell, America’s first official ace died in Greenwich, Connecticut on this date in 1990 at the age of 94. He was the first American from an American trained unit to achieve the lofty status of ace.
Flying with the famous 94th Aero Squadron, also known as the ‘Hat in the Ring’ gang, Campbell flew with the likes of aviation legends Eddie Rickenbacker and Raoul Lufbery.
Campbell was involved in many ‘firsts’ for American aviators in World War I. He flew in the 94th’s first patrol mission over enemy lines. Campbell shared credit with squadron mate Alan Winslow for the first kills by an American unit. Then he became the first American unit trained ace on May 31, 1918 when he shot down his fifth enemy aircraft over Lironville, France.
Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster in 1918 for bravery in aerial combat, Campbell would shoot down just one more enemy aircraft before the war ended giving him a total of six . Eddie Rickenbacker went on to set the American record for aerial kills with 26.
Watch an Interview with Douglas Campbell below (begins at 12 minute mark)
In 1939 Douglas Campbell became the Vice President of Pan American Airways.
Featured Image by United States Army photograph via Franks (1992) Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914-1918