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Cpl. Edward Ward: First Enlisted Airman

This blouse, on display in the Early Years Gallery, was worn by Edward Ward during his military career. Cpl. Ward was the first enlisted man to be assigned aviation duties in the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. The items were donated by the Ward Family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This blouse, on display in the Early Years Gallery, was worn by Edward Ward during his military career. Cpl. Ward was the first enlisted man to be assigned aviation duties in the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. The items were donated by the Ward Family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- This blouse, on display in the Early Years Gallery, was worn by Edward Ward during his military career. Cpl. Ward was the first enlisted man to be assigned aviation duties in the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. The items were donated by the Ward Family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- This blouse, on display in the Early Years Gallery, was worn by Edward Ward during his military career. Cpl. Ward was the first enlisted man to be assigned aviation duties in the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. The items were donated by the Ward Family. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cpl. Edward "Eddie" Ward enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1901. In July 1907 the Army sent Ward and Pfc. Joseph Barrett to Leo Stevens' balloon factory, where they learned the basics of balloon maintenance from the pre-eminent American balloon manufacturer. A month later, Brig. Gen. James Allen ordered Ward and Barrett to the newly created Aeronautical Division under the command of Capt. Charles D. Chandler. In September Barrett, who had previously served eight years in the U.S. Navy, deserted the Army to go back to the Navy (Barrett continued to serve with the Navy to an honorable retirement).

In the early years of Signal Corps aviation, Ward could be found at nearly every turn. He assisted at the Fort Myer, Va., airplane demonstrations, became a licensed balloon pilot, learned how to fly and maintain the Aeronautical Division's first and only dirigible, maintained aircraft at the flying school in the Philippines, and served in the Signal Corps' First Balloon School Squadron.

Ward excelled throughout his long Army service. As a master electrician, he supervised the laying of cables across Tampa Bay, and as a master photographer, he oversaw the aerial mapping of the Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah National Parks. Ward ended his Army career assisting in the installation of the NACA's (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) first wind tunnel at Langley Field, Va.

Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.

 

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Creation of the Aeronautical Division
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