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Title Flying for France : with the American escadrille at Verdun / by James R. McConnell ... illustrated from photographs through the kindness of Mr. Paul Rockwell.
Date of Publication 1918
Object Name Book
Author McConnell, James Rogers, 1887-1917.
Summary James Rogers McConnell (1887-1917) was an American pilot who flew for the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I. While recovering from an injury suffered during a bad landing, McConnell wrote this book about his experiences with the Escadrille; the book ends with correspondence regarding his disappearance and death.

While McConnell was a student at the University of Virginia, his interest in aviation led him to found an "aero club", only a short time after the Wright Brothers' First Flight. A prankster, he was elected "King of Hot-Foot", and later painted a red foot on the side of his plane in France (see image of frontispiece). In 1910 McConnell left the UVA law school and went to live with his family in Carthage, North Carolina, where he was employed as the land and industrial agent of the Seaboard Air Line Railway and secretary of the Carthage Board of Trade.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, McConnell joined the American Ambulance Corps and went to France. There, his conspicuous bravery won him the Croix de Guerre.

Feeling that America should do more in the war against Germany, McConnell resigned from the Ambulance Corps and entered the aviation training program. On completion of the program, he joined the newly formed Lafayette Escadrille, flying Nieuport biplanes. McConnell's group flew patrols and sorties from Luxeuil Field in eastern France.

After being wounded once and narrowly escaping death several times, McConnell went missing during a dogfight on March 19, 1917. It took several days before it was confirmed that he had been shot down and killed. He had turned 30 five days before his death. He was buried where he fell, in a meadow between the villages of Flavy-le-Martel and Jussy in Aisne, but was later reinterred at the Lafayette Escadrille memorial near Paris.

The monument to McConnell in Carthage bears an inscription that reads in part, "He fought for Humanity, Liberty and Democracy, lighted the way for his countrymen and showed all men how to dare nobly and to die gloriously." There is also a Gutzon Borglum statue, "The Aviator", erected in his honor on the grounds of the University of Virginia. The inscription at the base reads, "Soaring like an eagle into new heavens of valor and devotion."

McConnell himself, while a gifted and poetic writer, put it differently: in his final letter, found after his death, he had written, "My burial is of no import. Make it as easy as possible on yourselves. I have no religion and do not care for any service. If the omission would embarrass you, I presume I could stand the performance. Good luck to the rest of you. God damn Germany and Vive la France."
Subjects World War, 1914-1918--Aerial operations.
McConnell, James Rogers, 1887-1917.
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap,
Call# D603 .M2 1918
Collection Lang Library
LCCN 18007789