"The Hat in the Ring Gang" World War I
The 94th Aero Squadron was one of the first American fighter squadrons to see combat service in World War 1. Though America was late coming into the war as far as air fighting was concerned, they succeeded in contributing greatly to it's outcome with such personages as Eddie Rickenbacker and Raol Lufberry. Both men were members of the 94th, "Hat in the Ring" Aero Squadron which was based in Toul France, Just 18 miles from the German border.
The United States with fewer than 250 planes, was poorly prepared to fight an air war in April 1917. Since April 1916, however, 180 U.S. volunteer pilots had been gaining experience in France, fighting with the Lafayette Escadrille, an offshoot of the French Flying Corps.
In 1918, most of the group transferred to the American Air Service. During the final seven months of the war, the 94th proved itself as an effective air offensive, downing a total of 69 Boche planes, more than any other American Unit. Members of the squadron became heroes over-night for their acts of valor beyond the call of duty and were hailed by the nation abroad. These flyers would seek out the enemy in formation, engaging themselves in extensive "dog-fights", as they came to be known. "Dog-fights" involved difficult deflection shot, astounding aerial maneuvering, and even with the help of tracer bullets, many combats were inconclusive. The amount of ammunition capable of being carried of the flimsy crafts was strictly limited due to making their tasks all the more difficult. In addition to aerial combat, fighter pilots were frequently called upon to shoot down observation balloons and carry out tactically difficult low ground strafing attacks against troops and transports.
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 Front.