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Name: William Portwood "Bill" Erwin
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC - United States)
Croix de Guerre
William Erwin
Country: United States
Rank: Lieutenant
Service: United States Air Service
Units: 1st Observation
Victories: 8
Born: 18 October 1895
Place of Birth: Ryan, Oklahoma, USA
Died: 19 August 1927 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: Pacific Ocean
The son of W. A. Erwin of Chicago, Illinois, William Portwood Erwin was assigned to the 1st Observation Squadron on 19 July 1918. A Salmson 2A2 pilot, he and his observers were credited with 8 victories. He and his navigator, Alvin H.Eichwaldt, were lost at sea while searching for two planes, the Golden Eagle and the Miss Doran, that were missing in the Pacific during the Dole Air Race from California to Hawaii in 1927.
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to William P. Erwin, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in the Chateau-Thierry and St. Mihiel Salients, France. Lieutenant Erwin, with Second Lieutenant Byrne E. Baucom, observer, by a long period of faithful and heroic operations, set an inspiring example of courage and devotion to duty to his entire squadron. Throughout the Chateau- Thierry actions, in June and July, 1918, he flew under the worst weather conditions and successfully carried out his missions in the face of heavy odds. In the St. Mihiel sector, September 12 - 15, 1918, he repeated his previous courageous work. He flew as low as 50 feet from the ground behind the enemy's lines, harassing German troops with machine-gun fire and subjecting himself to attack from ground batteries, machine- guns, and rifles. He twice drove off enemy planes which were attempting to destroy an American observation balloon. On September 12 and 13, 1918, he flew at extremely low altitudes and carried out infantry contact patrols successfully. Again on September 12 he attacked a German battery, forced the crew to abandon it, shot off of his horse a German officer who was trying to escape, drove the cannoneers to their dugouts, and kept them there until the infantry could come up and capture them.
General Orders No. 70, W.D., 1919
French Croix de Guerre
On 20 July 1918, he volunteered for an infantry liaison mission at night fall, executed this mission at 200 meters altitude. He brought back his observer, who was mortally wounded, and his plane was full of bullet holes.
Croix de Guerre citation
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 15 Sep 1918 1230 1st Salmson 2A2 1 EA Mammey
2 29 Sep 1918 0455 1st Salmson 2A2 2 Rumpler C Fleville
3 06 Oct 1918 0715 1st Salmson 2A2 3 EA St. Juvin
4 08 Oct 1918 1630 1st Salmson 2A2 3 Two-seater Apremont
5 08 Oct 1918 1715 1st Salmson 2A2 3 Two-seater Sommerance
6 15 Oct 1918 1535 1st Salmson 2A2 2 EA Thenorgues
7 18 Oct 1918 1550 1st Salmson 2A2 2 Fokker D.VII Sommerance
8 22 Oct 1918 1455 1st Salmson 2A2 3 Two-seater NW of Remonville

1 Observer Lt H W Dahringer
2 Observer Lt B V Baucom
3 Observer Lt Arthur Easterbrook
American Aces of World War 1
by Norman Franks, Harry Dempsey (Illustrator) / Paperback / Osprey Publishing (September 25, 2001)
Over the Front
by Norman L. R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey / Hardcover / Grub Street the Basement (May 1992)
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