BACK IN TIME: Mitchell man overseas
Pictured are some of the enlisted men in the ground crew in front of two of the DH-4 planes in the 50th Aero Squadron in World War 1. The picture was taken at the Clermont-en-Argonne Airdrome in France in 1918. Nelson Logan (1896-1977), who built Mitchell's Roxy Theatre in 1933, is in the front row, fourth from the left in front of the plane on the right. Logan, father of Luxury 5 Cinemas owner Jeff Logan, was a sergeant and served as an aerial gunnery instructor and armorer with the squadron.
The DH-4 was the only American-made plane to fly in combat in WW1. It was based on a British design, but the Americans fitted it with the powerful new V-12 Liberty engine. With the Liberty engine, the two-seated American DH-4 was fast as or faster than any single seat fighter of the time. Because of the placement of the gas tank between the two crew members, the plane was nicknamed the "flying coffin," although it suffered no more fires or accidents than any other plane of the time.
The 50th Aero Squadron is credited with making the first aerial re-supply drop in history and with finding the correct location of the "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Division. Lts. Geottler and Bleckley were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for diving low into a valley under heavy enemy fire to find the surrounded 77th. They received two of only four Medals of Honor awarded to the Air Service in WW1.
The Dutch Cleanser girl emblem painted on the side of the planes was the 50th's emblem. The 50th said it was "cleaning up the Dutch."