The son of Edward Lufbery of Wallingford, Connecticut, Gervais Raoul Lufbery was born in France and moved to the United States with his parents when he was six years old. He enlisted in the U.S. Army for two years in 1907 and served in the Phillipines. After being discharged from the army, he traveled throughout Asia and, in 1910, took a job as a mechanic with Marc Pourpe, a French aviator. When the war began, they were in France and Pourpe quickly joined the French Air Service. Lufbery, being an American, joined the Foreign Legion but followed Pourpe to the front as his mechanic. When Pourpe was killed in action in December 1914, Lufbery applied for and received a brevet in the French Air Service. After several months as a reconnaissance pilot, he moved on to single-seat fighters. Lufbery spent almost four years in the French Air Service and with the Lafayette Escadrille, scoring 16 victories, before he joined the United States Air Service as an instructor in early 1918. Idolized by his subordinates and revered by his peers, he was killed in action as he attempted to bag a German Rumpler north of Nancy. Hit by enemy fire, his Nieuport 28 suddenly flipped over and Lufbery was seen to fall from the aircraft. The following day, in an impressive funeral that was witnessed by hundreds and recorded on film, Lufbery was buried in the cemetery at the Sebastopol Hospital. In the village of Maron, near the Moselle River, a bronze tablet marks the place where he fell. Lufbery's remains were later moved to Lafayette Memorial du Parc de Garches in Paris.
In 2004, eighty six years after he was killed in action, Raoul Lufbery was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.. The medal was awarded for wounds received in his final air combat on 19 May 1918.
The World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, 21 May 1918, page 2
Air Power, June 1918, page 88
The President of the United States of America has awarded the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington August 7, 1782, to Raoul Lufbery, then a major in the Army of the U.S., 94th Aero Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group, American Expeditionary Forces, France, for wounds received in action on 19 May 1918 in Maron, France, a small town north of Nancy.
Purple Heart citation, 2004
A model of skill, sangfroid and courage. He has distinguished himself through the numerous long distance bombardments and by the daily combats which he has with enemy planes. On 31 July , he never hesitated to attack at close range, a group of four enemy planes. He downed one of them near our lines. He succeeded in downing another on 4 August 1916.
Médaille Militaire citation
He enlisted under the French colors for the duration of the war. Has given proof as a pursuit pilot of remarkable audacity and has downed up to 27 December 1916, six enemy aircraft. Already cited twice in orders and has the Médaille Militaire.