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World War I flying ace Campbell dies
World War I flying ace Campbell dies
Published by Scott
24 November 2007
World War I flying ace Campbell dies

World War I flying ace Campbell dies

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) Douglas Campbell, the first American trained World War I pilot to be called an ace for shooting down five enemy planes, has died of respiratory failure at age 94.
Campbell, who died Tuesday at his f Greenwich home, shot down six German planes over France during April, May and June of 1918. His exploits are recounted in the 1984 book "Let's Go Where The Action Is: The Wartime Experiences of Douglas Campbell," by Jack Eder.
Two American pilots, Maj. William Thaw and Capt. [David Peterson], had each previously downed five planes, but they trained in France with the Lafayette Escadrille, not under American commanders.
Campbell left Harvard University after his senior year in 1917 to begin his military career with the 94th Squadron, known as the "Hat in the Ring" squadron, of the First Pursuit Group.
He learned to fly at the Army Flying School in France, then flew the first American mission over enemy lines on March 6, 1918, with Eddie Rickenbacker, a race-car driver who became the leading fighter ace in American military history by shooting down 26 planes.
Campbell was wounded by a bullet fragment during a dogfight over France, when he shot down his last German plane, but managed to fly back to base safely. He was discharged as a captain and received the American Distinguished Service Cross with four oak leaves.
The French made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and awarded him the Croix de Guerre with three palms.
Campbell spoke modestly about his accomplishments.
"Because I was the first American to shoot down some planes, they gave me more medals than they should have," he said in a 1985 interview.
He retired in 1963 from Panagra, the airline formed by W.R. Grace Co. and Pan American World Airways to serve Latin America, as a vice president and general manager of the company.
Campbell is survived by his wife, Virginia Pope Campbell, two daughters, four sons, 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be private.

Waterloo Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) - Thursday, October 18, 1990

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douglas campbell, first american ace

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