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Lt. Col. William Thaw

Note: This item is currently in storage.

Lt. Col. William Thaw, pictured here in a pencil drawing by Henri Farré, was a World War I flying ace who flew with the Lafayette Escadrille. Flying a Nieuport, he scored his first victory in May 1916 and eventually achieved five confirmed and two unconfirmed aerial victories. 

Thaw was also responsible for the acquisition of the squadron's mascots, lion cubs Whiskey and Soda. The mascots were popular with the men of the Escadrille, and were afforded a great deal of freedom to roam as they pleased. Unfortunately, Whiskey, who had a penchant for chewing on uniforms, destroyed the tunic and cap of Commandant Philippe Fequant, the commander of Groupe de Combat 13. The Commandant ordered the two lions to be expelled from the Escadrille, and on Oct. 17, 1917, Whiskey and Soda were delivered to their new home at a Paris zoo.

Artwork by World War I aviation artist Henri Farré, including a larger portrait of Lt. Col. William Thaw, will be on exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force through Labor Day 2015.

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