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Today in History

Name: Paul Frank Baer
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) with Oak Leaf Cluster
Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
Croix de Guerre
Paul Baer
Country: United States
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Services: French Air Service
United States Air Service
Units: N124, Spa80 (FAS)
103rd Aero (USAS)
Victories: 9
Born: 29 January 1894
Place of Birth: Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA
Died: 09 December 1930 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: Shanghai, China
Cemetery: Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA Image
The son of Mrs. Emma Baer Dyer of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Paul Frank Baer was a mechanic with the Cadillac Automobile Company in Detroit, Michigan from 1912 to 1916. He volunteered for service on the Mexican border in July 1916 and, in February 1917, he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps. In August of that year, he was assigned to Spa80 where he remained until January 1918 when he was reassigned to Escadrille N124. In February the American pilots of N124 transferred to the United States Air Service to form the 103rd Aero Squadron. Baer scored his first victory during March and on 23 April 1918 he scored his fifth victory to become the first American ace of the United States Air Service. On the morning of 22 May 1918 Baer scored his ninth victory but was then shot down by a member of Jasta 18, possibly Hans Müller. Badly injured when his SPAD XIII crashed near Armentières, he was captured by the Germans.

Toward the end of 1919 Baer spent much of his time in New York where he was a prominent member of the American Flying Club and recruited fliers for an air squadron to help Poland fight the Bolsheviks. Baer Field, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was named in honor of Paul Frank Baer.
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Paul Frank Baer, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism on March 11, 1918. First Lieutenant Baer attacked, alone, a group of seven enemy pursuit machines, destroying one, which fell near the French lines northeast of Reims, France. On March 16, 1918, he attacked two enemy two-seaters, one of which fell in flames in approximately the same region.
General Orders No. 128, W.D., 1919
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Oak Leaf Cluster
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Paul Frank Baer, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action. First Lieutenant Baer brought down enemy planes on April 5, 12, and 23, 1918, and on May 8, 1918. First Lieutenant Baer destroyed two German machines, and on May 21, 1918, he destroyed his eighth enemy plane.
General Orders No. 128, W.D., 1919
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 11 Mar 1918 103rd   Albatros D Cerney-les-Reims
2 16 Mar 1918 103rd   Albatros C Nogent l'Abbesse
3 06 Apr 1918 1855 103rd   Scout Somme-Py
4 12 Apr 1918 1217 103rd   Albatros D Proyart
5 23 Apr 1918 0955 103rd   Albatros C 1 St. Gobain
6 08 May 1918 1028 103rd   Two-seater Mont Kemmel
7 08 May 1918 1738 103rd   Scout Mont Kemmel
8 21 May 1918 1850 103rd   Albatros 2 W of Ypres
9 22 May 1918 0945 103rd   Albatros Laventie

1 Shared with Lt C H Wilcox
2 Shared with Lt H A H Baker, Lt C H Wilcox, Lt C W Ford
Franks, Norman. American Aces of World War 1. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2001
Franks, Norman and Frank Bailey. Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914-1918. London: Grub Street, 1992
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