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Top Flying Aces of World War I – 3

Harold Huston George

On July 5, 1916, George enlisted in the New York National Guard, which was during the crisis caused by Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico. His unit was subsequently federalized and deployed to the Mexican border. He served there until Oct. 5, 1916, as a sergeant.

Meanwhile, World War I was raging and the use of the airplane in battle was increasing. George enlisted as an aviation cadet on April 15, 1917, eventually completed training on the Curtiss biplane in New York.

After being commissioned a first lieutenant in the Signal Officers Reserve Corps, he went to Kelly Field, Texas, for additional training before shipping out to Tours, France, as commander of the 201st Aero Squadron in October 1917.

While in Tours, George took pursuit pilot and gunnery course and flew into combat in August 1918 as a member of the 185th Aero Squadron and later with the 139th Aero Squadron. He scored his first two victories on 27 October, near Bantheville, France, he struck a formation of four enemy Fokkers, destroying two and driving the other two away. Two days later, he doubled again, sharing the wins over Fokker D.VIIs, sharing those victories with other pilots. He shared a fifth victory over a D.VII on November 5, 1918, giving him his “ace” status.

George would rise to the rank of brigadier general during World War II. He was killed in a ground accident at Batchelor Field, southeast of Darwin, Australia on 29 April 1942 when a Curtiss P-40 of the 49th Fighter Group lost directional control on takeoff and struck the parked Lockheed C-40 in which he had just arrived at the base. Two others died in the accident as well. George was 49.

 

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