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Name: Joseph Frank "Fritz" Wehner Balloon-Buster
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) with Oak Leaf Cluster Joseph Wehner
Country: United States
Rank: Lieutenant
Service: United States Air Service
Units: 27th Aero
Victories: 6
Born: 20 September 1895
Place of Birth: Roxbury, Boston, Massachusett, USA
Died: 18 September 1918 Killed In Action
Place of Death: Near Serronville
Cemetery: Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett, Massachusetts, USA
 
 
The son of Frank and Johanna Nelson Wehner of Everett, Massachusetts, Joseph Frank Wehner's athletic achievements as captain of the Everett High School football team earned him a scholarship to the Phillips Exeter Academy in 1914. Graduating in 1916, he left for Europe as an employee of the Y.M.C.A., living in Berlin and working in prison camps until the United States severed diplomatic relations with Germany in April 1917. Returning home, he enlisted in the Signal Corps at New York during June 1917. While receiving flight training, Wehner's German ancestry led to an investigation followed by an unsubstantiated arrest for suspicion of treason by the Secret Service. Eventually, he was permitted to rejoin his unit and departed for England in February 1918. Assigned to the 3rd Aviation Instruction Centre at Issoudun, France, Wehner, now bitter and withdrawn over the question of his loyalty, became friends with another loner: Frank Luke. Both pilots were assigned to the 27th Aero Squadron under Harold Hartney on 25 July 1918. With six confirmed victories during September 1918, Wehner shot down one Fokker D.VII and five balloons in just three days of aerial combat. He was killed in action shortly after he and Luke downed two German balloons. Protecting Luke as he attacked a third balloon, Wehner's SPAD XIII was shot down by Georg von Hantlemann of Jasta 15.
Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, Illinois, Wednesday, 23 October 1918, page 3
Combat Report, 12 September 1918
 
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Joseph Frank Wehner, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Rouvres, France, September 15, 1918. While on a mission First Lieutenant Wehner found an enemy patrol of eight machines attacking a single American observation machine. He immediately attacked, destroying one and forcing another down out of control, his own plane being badly damaged by enemy machine-gun fire. He managed to convey the American plane to safety.
General Orders No. 138, W.D., 1918
 
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Oak Leaf Cluster
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Joseph Frank Wehner, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Mangiennes and Reville, France, September 16, 1918. Amid terrific antiaircraft and ground machine-gun fire First Lieutenant Wehner descended, attacked, and destroyed two enemy balloons. One of these balloons was destroyed in flames after it had been hauled to the ground and was resting in its bed.
General Orders No. 138, W.D., 1918
 
Victories
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 15 Sep 1918 27th SPAD XIII Fokker D.VII Rouvers
2 15 Sep 1918 1710 27th SPAD XIII Balloon 1 Bois d'Hingry
3 16 Sep 1918 1940 27th SPAD XIII Balloon Romagne
4 16 Sep 1918 1945 27th SPAD XIII Balloon Mangiennes
5 18 Sep 1918 1640 27th SPAD XIII Balloon 1 Mars la Tour
6 18 Sep 1918 1640 27th SPAD XIII Balloon 1 Mars la Tour

1 Shared with Lt Frank Luke
 
Books
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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