On this date in 1918, the 94th Aero Squadron became the first American trained and organized pursuit squadron to be stationed on the front line and see active combat service. Tasked to work with and provide support for the 8th French Army while flying out of Gengault Aerodrome, the “Hat-in-the-Ring” Squadron immediately began flying patrols and alerts in a sector covering from Saint-Mihiel to Pont a Mousson.
Within days of their arrival, on April 14th, a two-ship patrol flown by Lieutenants Douglas Campbell and Allen F. Winslow became the first aerial victories credited to the United States in World War I. Lieutenant Campbell was able to down his enemy aircraft with machine gun fire, while Lieutenant Winslow’s superior airmanship was able to produce and unrecoverable state for the other enemy aircraft.
The most notable and decorated airman from the 94th was none other than the legendary Lieutenant Eddie Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker was credited with a total of 26 aerial victories during his service. The first six of his victories came in a Nieuport 28, with the final twenty being scored in the significantly more famous Spad XIII.
The 94th is still alive and well today. They currently fly the Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptor as a component of the 1st Fighter Wing from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. As a matter of fact, they were the unit that took the Raptor to Red Flag at Nellis for the first time in February of 2007.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for throwing your hat in the ring!