Monument to early American aviators needs support
A monument near Issoudun, France, bears the names of 171 Americans who died at a U.S. training base there during World War I. Some 7,500 Americans were stationed at the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center of the United States—which included seven camps, 11 landing fields, and two field hospitals—between 1917 and 1919. Many of the fatalities resulted from flight training accidents.
Issoudun was designated as an advanced flight training facility, taking pilots who had completed basic flight training elsewhere and preparing them to fly pursuit (fighter) aircraft, although some went on to fly observation or bombing aircraft. The first aeromedical studies were conducted there in an effort to provide better pilot selection criteria and medical care. Because many front-line pilots rotated through the center to assist in pilot training, virtually every American ace in World War I passed through Issoudun at some point—including the first U.S. ace, Douglas Campbell, and America’s top ace of the war, Eddie Rickenbacker.
The monument, built during the 1920s at the site of a temporary American cemetery, was renovated in 2006 by the nearby village of Paudy. The village wants to continue the restoration by treating the monument’s metal chains, so that rust does not stain the stonework, and plans to erect a commemorative plaque that will explain the purpose of the monument, explained Mayor Thierry Ledet.
Because the community of 458 people has limited financial means, contributions are being sought to help pay for these projects. International money orders or checks, payable to “Commune de Paudy” and marked “3rd AIC Monument,” can be sent to the mayor’s office at Mairie de Paudy, 3 Place de la Mairie, 36260 Paudy, France. The plaque will be unveiled during a June 28 ceremony.
May 12, 2009