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The 22nd Aero Squadron was a United States Army Air Service unit that fought on the Western Front during World War I.

22nd Aero Squadron
22d Aero Squadron - SPAD 13-Smithsonian.jpg
22nd Aero Squadron SPAD S.XIII "Smith IV", flown by Captain Arthur Raymond Brooks. Captain Brooks was a Flying Ace, credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft. This aircraft is on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
22d Aero Squadron - SPAD 13.jpg
Captain Brooks with "Smith IV", Belrain Aerodrome, France, 1918.
Active16 June 1917 – 16 June 1919
Country United States
BranchUS Army Air Roundel.svg  Air Service, United States Army
Part ofAmerican Expeditionary Forces (AEF)
Nickname(s)"Shooting Stars"
EngagementsWorld War I War Service Streamer without inscription.png
World War I
Capt. Raymond C. Bridgeman[1]
Lt. George W. Lindsay
Lt. Henry K. Davis[2]
Lt. Arthur R. Brooks[2]
22nd Aero Squadron Emblem22d Aero Squadron - Emblem.jpg
Aircraft flown
FighterSPAD S.XIII, 1918–1919[3]
TrainerCurtiss JN-4, 1917 [3]
Service record

2nd Pursuit Group
Western Front, France: 22 August-11 November 1918[4]

  • Sorties: 914
  • Combat missions: 115
  • Enemy combats: 95
  • Killed: 5
  • Wounded: 2
  • Missing: 4
  • Aircraft lost: 16 [2]
  • Enemy aircraft shot down: 44[5]
  • Enemy balloons shot down: 2[5]
  • Total enemy aircraft destroyed: 46[5]
  • Air Aces: 5[6]

    The squadron was assigned as a Day Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron as part of the 2nd Pursuit Group, First United States Army. Its mission was to engage and clear enemy aircraft from the skies and provide escort to reconnaissance and bombardment squadrons over enemy territory. It also attacked enemy observation balloons, and perform close air support and tactical bombing attacks of enemy forces along the front lines.[7] After the 1918 Armistice with Germany, the squadron returned to the United States in June 1919 and was demobilized.

    In April 1937 its lineage and history was consolidated with those of the United States Army Air Corps 22nd Observation Squadron.[3][8]




    The 22nd Aero Squadron was organized at Kelly Field, Texas, on 16 June 1917. Initially 150 men, it was later expanded to a size of 200. Once organized, the 22nd was sent to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 9 August to begin formal training under the auspices of the Royal Flying Corps at their facilities. In Canada, the squadron trained on the Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny", and detachments attended schools at locations around the Toronto area. The men received instruction on engine and aircraft maintenance.[2]

    On 19 October the squadron finished its initial training and was sent to Hicks Field, near Fort Worth, Texas. Hicks was also designated Field #1 of the Camp Taliaferro training complex, operated also by the British Royal Flying Corps. When the squadron arrived, Hicks Field was still under construction; however, flying training in the JN-4 was conducted and 42 flight cadets soloed in the Jenny. Orders were received for overseas movement to France, and the squadron left for the Aviation Concentration Center, Long Island, on 21 January 1918, arriving on the 25th. The squadron boarded the RMS Adriatic in New York Harbor on the 31st, arriving in Liverpool, England on 16 February after an uneventful voyage and proceeding to a "Rest Camp", where the pilots were sent to various advanced training schools in England, while the enlisted support personnel were sent to France for training with RFC units on the continent.[2]

    Training in FranceEdit

    Training at the 3rd Air Instructional Center, Issoudun Airdrome, July 1918

    In France, the squadron was divided into Flights and divided among units of the Royal Naval Air Service that were engaged in day-bombing: "HQ", "A" and "B" Flights to No. 6 Squadron, and "C" Flight to No. 2 Squadron. Later transfers were "A" Flight to No. 4 Aviation Service Depot at Guînes for instruction and repair work and "B" Flight to No. 3 Squadron, RNAS on the Somme, where one man was captured by the Germans in a ground attack during the German drive of March 21. The segments received much experience in German bombing, sea-raids, and shelling by the famous "Ludendorf" gun. During the British retreat, camps were hurriedly broken up and re-pitched at a succession of locations.[2][9] During the training outside of Belrain ,France John G. Agar was famous for demanding all his food raw. After world renowned writer wrote about John G. Agar's eating habits he was receiving much letter's per day, so much so they also moved him squadrons.

    On 24 June 1918, the flights were reassembled at Guînes Aerodrome and then went to the American 3rd Air Instructional Center at Issoudun Aerodrome, where the Squadron remained until 7 July, when the pilots received their final combat training. It then moved to the Air Service Acceptance Park No. 1 at Orly Field, near Paris. At Orly the enlisted strength was reduced to 176 men, who were detailed to work in the several departments in the Park. At Orly, the squadron was classified as a Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron and was assigned to the 2nd Pursuit Group, 1st Pursuit Wing, First American Army, AEF, joining the 13th, 49th and 139th Aero Squadrons.[2][9]

    From Orly, the 22nd then moved to their first combat airfield in the "Zone of Advance", Croix de Metz Aerodrome , near Toul. There the squadron received its combat aircraft and pilots, SPAD XIII's from the 1st Air Depot at Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome, equipped with 220 hp Hispano engines. It received its full complement of 25 aircraft and pilots by 26 August.[2][9]

    Combat in FranceEdit

    New 22nd Aero Squadron (Pursuit) SPAD XIII, Gengault Aerodrome, August 1918

    The 22nd Aero Squadron flew its first combat patrol on 21 August 1918 in preparation for the St. Mihiel offensive. As the date of the attack grew nearer, the flying over the sector increased. The squadron achieved its first aerial victory on 2 September with the shooting down of a German Rumpler in the region of Arracourt by Lt Brooks. The next victory came two days later on the 4th when Lieutenants Brooks, Tyndall and Jones attacked a Fokker that had attacked Allied balloons. From this point contact and combat with enemy aircraft was frequent, along with German anti-aircraft artillery fire (Archies) causing damage to several squadron planes.[2]

    With clear flying weather by 13 September, the air filled with Allied and German aircraft. Flights of the 11th and 20th Squadrons' de Havilland DH-4 bombers were attached to the squadron and the mission of the 22nd became escorting the DH-4s to attack ground targets behind the German lines. Salmson 2A2s from the 1st, 12th and 91st Observation Squadrons flew frequent reconnaissance and photographic missions and the 22nd's SPADs kept the Germans at a distance. On 14 September, a large air battle took place between the 22nd and German aircraft near Verdun. The 22nd was to meet a Salmson over Mars-la-Tour about 3:00 pm with orders to clear the skies of German aircraft to allow the Salmson to take photos over the area. However, no Salmson was in sight and twelve enemy aircraft attacked the 22nd. During the ensuing combat no squadron aircraft were lost, but several pilots returned with heavily damaged aircraft.[2]

    22nd Aero Squadron aircraft at Belrain Aerodrome, France

    On 22 September, the squadron moved to Belrain Aerodrome. At Toul, the quarters had been comfortable and convenient with adequate transportation for leaves to such places as Nancy or Toul. But for the next month, the main satisfaction of being an aviator, living outside the muck of battle after the day's fighting, was taken away. Billets in Prie-la-Brulee and Belrain were offered, supplemented by shacks on the field.[2]

    Captain Arthur Raymond Brooks with his SPAD S.XIII, making a forced landing after engine trouble at Belrain Aerodrome, France

    On 26 September, Lieuts. Hudson, Doolin and Agar were in a patrol of four of the Squadron's planes that were set upon by 13 Fokkers. After a horrible plane crash on 26 of September John G. Agar was the last of the patrol four and had to walk 19 miles back to camp. After considerable maneuvering they reached the Allied lines safely and brought down one of the enemy in the running fight. On the same patrol, Lieut. Beane became separated from the others and shot down a Fokker that had just shot down another SPAD. Although in turn attacked by two more of the enemy, Lieut. Beane succeeded in eluding the offenders. Two days later, on the 28th, a "glorious dog-fight" took place over Montfaucon-d'Argonne with six victories for the Squadron's pilots and none for the Germans. Three biplanes and about a dozen case planes were sighted in excellent position below the groups of seven, resulting in 13 combats.[2]

    That was the kind of work done by the 22nd Aero Squadron, although it was not always so concentrated. The last patrol, led by Captain Bridgeman, went over the lines and bombed Stenay on 6 November. The next day, the squadron moved "up" to keep up with the advance of First Army and moved to Souilly Aerodrome, however, owing to bad weather, no combat patrols were sent out before the Armistice on 11 November.[2]


    Post-Armistice photo of squadron aircraft 15 in the snow at Souilly Aerodrome, France.

    The record of the Squadron from 6 August to 11 November is quite remarkable. In spite of a late start, the "Shooting Stars" accounted for 43 official victories, against 34 of its nearest rival, the 139th Aero Squadron "Mercurios". Casualties were 12, including 4 known killed, two prisoners and six "missing in action". During 72 days of flying operations the Squadron conducted 956 sorties and 82 combats and achieved 43 (possibly 46) official victories. Several Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded and recommendations were made for the Medal of Honor.[2]

    The AEF was very slow in returning its forces to the United States. The squadron remained at Souilly Aerodrome until 29 January 1919 when it moved to the Grand aerodrome, France, west of Neufchateau, to help construct a new airfield. On 18 April 1919 orders were received from First Army for the squadron to report to the 1st Air Depot, Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome to turn in all of its supplies and equipment and it was relieved of duty with the AEF. The squadron's SPAD aircraft were delivered to the Air Service American Air Service Acceptance Park No. 1 at Orly Aerodrome to be returned to the French. There practically all of the pilots and observers were detached from the Squadron. [2][10]

    Personnel at Colombey were subsequently assigned to the Commanding General, Services of Supply and ordered to report to the staging camp at LeMans, France. There, they awaited scheduling to report to one of the Base Ports in France for transport to the United States and subsequent demobilization. On 22 May, the squadron moved to its port of embarkation, Brest.[2]

    The 22nd Aero Squadron (Pursuit), returned to New York City on 14 June, its personnel were demobilized and returned to civilian life, and the squadron was inactivated at Hazelhurst Field, Long Island, on 17 June 1919.[2]

    In April 1937 the inactivated squadron was re-constituted administratively, with its lineage and history being consolidated with those of the United States Army Air Corps 22nd Observation Squadron. The current United States Air Force unit that holds its lineage and history is the 22nd Intelligence Squadron, assigned to the 707th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.[11]


    • Organized as 17th Aero Squadron on 16 June 1917
    Re-designated as: 22nd Aero Squadron on 20 June 1917
    Re-designated as: 22nd Aero Squadron (Pursuit) on 16 August 1918
    Demobilized on 17 June 1919[3]



    Combat sectors and campaignsEdit

    Streamer Sector/Campaign Dates Notes
      Somme Defensive Campaign 21 March – 6 April 1918 [12]
    Amiens Sector 7 April –24 June 1918 [12]
    Toul Sector 21 August – 11 September 1918 [12]
      St. Mihiel Offensive Campaign 12–16 September 1918 [12]
      Meuse-Argonne Offensive Campaign 26 September – 11 November 1918 [12]

    Notable personnelEdit

    DSC: Distinguished Service Cross; SSC: Silver Star Citation; KIA: Killed in Action; MIA

    Missing in Action[15]

    See alsoEdit


      This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

    1. ^ a b c d e f Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914–1918 Norman Franks, Frank W. Bailey. Grub Street, 1992. ISBN 0- 948817-54-2, ISBN 978-0-948817-54-0.
    2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Series "E", Volume 9, History of the 22nd-24th Aero Squadrons. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    3. ^ a b c d e f Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
    4. ^ Series "H", Section "O", Volume 29, Weekly Statistical Reports of Air Service Activities, October 1918-May 1919. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    5. ^ a b c Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, Series M, Volume 38, Compilation of Confirmed Victories and Losses of the AEF Air Service as of 26 May 1919
    6. ^ 22nd Aero
    7. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1978), The US Air Service in World War I, The Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF Washington
    8. ^ Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the First World War, Volume 3, Part 3, Center of Military History, United States Army, 1949 (1988 Reprint)
    10. ^ Series "D", Weekly Statistical Reports of Air Service Activities, October 1918-May 1919. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    11. ^ File:22d Intelligence Squadron.pdf AFHRA Lineage and Honors History of the 22nd INTELLIGENCE SQUADRON (AIA), 23 Jan 1997.
    12. ^ a b c d e United States War Department (1920), Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Belgium and Italy, 1917–1919, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1920
    13. ^
    14. ^
    15. ^ Military Times Hall of Valor Search, 22nd Aero Squadron

    Note 13 URL link broken!

    External linksEdit

    The U.S. 22nd Aero Pursuit Squadron 2nd Pursuit Group, 1918 ~