World War I
The 94th Fighter Squadron has a long history and traditions
that date back to World War I. The squadron was officially activated
at Kelly Field, Texas, on 20 August 1917, as the 94th Aero Squadron.On
September 30, 1917, two officers and 150 enlisted men left Texas
for France and were sent to seven different aircraft factories
for maintenance and repair training. In April 1918, the 94th
was reunited and stationed at the Gengault Aerodrome near Toul,
France, where it began operations as the first American squadron
at the front.As the first American squadron in operation, its
aviators were allowed to create their squadron insignia. They
used the opportunity to commemorate the United States' entry
into World War I by taking the phrase of tossing one's "hat
in the ring" (a boxing phrase to signify one's willingness
to become a challenger) and symbolizing it with the literal
image of Uncle Sam's red, white and blue top hat going through
a ring.On April 14, Lt. Douglas Campbell, who later became America's
first flying ace, and Lt. Alan Winslow downed two German aircraft.
These were the first victories ever scored by an American unit.
No 94th pilot achieved more aerial victories than 1st Lt. Edward
Vernon Rickenbacker, who was named America's "Ace of Aces"
during the war. In his Nieuport 28 and later in his SPAD S.XIII,
Rickenbacker was credited with 26 of the squadron's 70 kills
during World War I. By the end of hostilities, the 94th had
won battle honors for participation in 11 major engagements
and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.During World War
I, The squadron was based at Toul (May 5, 1918), Touquin (June
28, 1918), Saints (July 9, 1918) and Rembercourt (September
1, 1918).Another flying ace of this squadron was Harvey Weir
Cook.The squadron returned home in the spring of 1919, and after
several moves, the 94th settled at Selfridge Field, Michigan,
in July 1922. In 1923, the unit was re-designated the 94th Pursuit
Squadron. The squadron stayed in Michigan for the remainder
of the inter-war years, training in its pursuit role. The squadron
flew 17 different aircraft during this period, culminating with
the P-38 Lightning. One week after Pearl Harbor, the 94th moved
to San Diego Naval Air Station. Expecting to see action in the
Pacific, the squadron instead received orders for Europe. In
the summer of 1942, the 94th deployed under its own power to
England, the U.K., via Canada, Labrador, Greenland, and Iceland.
This marked the first time that a fighter squadron flew its
own aircraft from the United States to Europe.
World War II
In November 1942, as part of the newly re-designated 1st Fighter
Group, the 94th Fighter Squadron went into combat in North Africa.
Based in Algeria, Tunisia, and Italy, the 94th again distinguished
itself in combat by winning two Presidential Distinguished Unit
Citations as part of the 1st Group. In addition, the squadron
earned 14 Campaign honors, participating in almost every campaign
in North Africa and Europe. 64 pilots of the 94th Fighter Squadron
were credited with 124 Axis aircraft destroyed. The 94th produced
a total of six aces in World War II. In April 1945 the 1st Fighter
Group received two YP-80 jets for operational testing. The 94th
Squadron's Major Edward LaClare flew two operational sorties
in the YP-80 although without encountering combat.
Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (October 8, 1890 July 27, 1973)
was an American fighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor
recipient. He was also a race car driver and automotive designer,
a government consultant in military matters and a pioneer in air
transportation. During his lifetime, Rickenbacker worked with
many influential civilian and military leaders. He had keen insight
into technology, and vision for future improvements. Among other
events, he participated in or observed Armistice Day on the Western
Campbell (center) poses with fellow 94th Aero Squadron aviators
Eddie Rickenbacker (left) and Kenneth Marr (right)
Assigned to the Air Service, Campbell learned to fly in a Curtiss
Jenny aircraft and was later trained in a Nieuport fighter. He
was assigned to the famous Pursuit 94th Aero Squadron (the "Hat
in the ring" gang) - at this stage flying Nieuport 28 fighters.
He was noted for several firsts in his service. He flew the squadron's
first patrol along with two other famous aviators, Eddie Rickenbacker
and Raoul Lufbery. Due to supply problems, the trio flew their
first mission in unarmed planes. His first kill came while flying
in an aircraft armed with only one rather that the usual two machine
He shared credit with Lt. Alan F. Winslow for the squadron's
first confirmed victories, which were the first victories by fighter
aircraft of any American flying unit in the war. Campbell and
Winslow each shot down and captured a pilot from [Jasta 64w].
He became the first American flying for an American unit to become
an ace when he downed his fifth enemy aircraft over Lironville,
France on May 31, 1918. Lt. Winslow was WIA/Captured 31 July 1918;
died on 15 August 1933 in Ottawa, Canada. See [] for photographs
of Campbell and Winslow first victories.
Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak
Leaf Cluster for bravery in aerial combat over Flirey, France
on May 19, 1918. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre avec
palme by the French military. He scored his sixth and final victory
on June 5, 1918.
During this last action, Campbell was wounded by an exploding
artillery shell and was sent back to the United States to recover
from severe shrapnel injuries to his back. During his recuperation,
he made appearances at numerous war bond rallies. Campbell hoped
to return to combat and was reassigned to his squadron in November
1918. By then however the war was winding down and he saw no further
frontline action before the Armistice of November 11, 1918.