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Air Service Enters Combat

The first U.S. air unit sent to Europe was the 1st Aero Squadron, the same outfit that had served under Pershing on the Mexican border in 1916. Under command of Maj. Ralph Royce, it arrived in France on Sept. 3, 1917. Other squadrons gradually arrived, but all had to be equipped with airplanes and trained, a time-consuming process.

Meanwhile, most of the American pilots of the Escadrille Lafayette were commissioned as U.S. Army officers, and on Feb. 18, 1918, when the unit became the 103rd Aero Squadron of the Air Service, AEF, its French enlisted ground personnel were replaced by U.S. troops. Since the 103rd remained on the Front under French control without any interruption in its combat activity, it had the honor of being the first U.S. Air Service in aerial combat over the Western Front.

Click on the following links for more information about the Air Service during WWI.

Maj. Raoul Lufbery
Lts. Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell
Lt. Quentin Roosevelt
Lt. Walter B. Wanamaker
Lt. Fred Norton
Combat over the Marne
St. Mihiel Offensive
Meuse-Argonne Offensive
U.S. Cadets in Italy
Combat Record
WWI Prisoners of War

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Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Pancho Villa Attacks New Mexico
Escadrille Lafayette
Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 141: WWI Diary of Col. Frank Lahm (Provided by AFHRA)