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WW1 Flying Status - Observers


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Hello, I have 3 uniforms and some insignia from a Spanish American War through 1925 serviceman. He enlisted in Apr. 1898, served in the Philippines, and China 1900-01. He was discharged in April 1907 as a Electrician First Class from the signal Corp. He re-enlisted in 1913 at Fort Omaha with the Signal Corp. He appears to have been a weatherman. He was commissioned a Captain in the Signal Corp Reserve in 1917. He was promoted to Major Air Service Reserve. Reverted to Master Sergeant Air Corp 1920. My question is: I know he was "relieved from regular and frequent flights" by War Department Special Orders (he was 37). Since he was a weatherman and was in flying status (before the Special Order) would he have qualified for the half wing (observer) badge? Weatherman flew as observers (weather) at that time. I tried to get info from the National Personnel Records people, by his records were destroyed in the 1973 fire. They rebuilt his record, but only showed 3 periods of service: 1913-1917 (nothing as an officer) 1920-1923, and 1923-1925. They did say he was awarded the WW1 victory medal with Defensive Sector Bar. Note: no overseas chevrons on WW1 Officer, or 1925 master sergeant uniforms. I also have not been able to locate the criteria for award of the Observers half wing. No definition as to if weather observation would count. Thanks Captain George Albert

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Hmmm I dont believe so. I think observers recieved the wing after training at Issodun for their specific purpose. Most Observers that I have seen are actually artillery officers assigned to the aviation squadrons. I will check, but I am not sure he would have qualified

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Thanks for the post. Some more information:

N.Y. Times: Army Orders 26 Sep 1917 – Signal Corp Reserve lists: Schermerhorn, Capt. S. S. V. Aviation Section previous orders amended so as to direct him to report to Camp Taliaferro, (Fort Worth) Texas.

N.Y. Times: Army Orders 6 Sep 1918 lists Schermerhorm, S. S. promoted from Captain to Major Air Service Reserve.

19 Nov 1920 to 18 Nov 1923 and 19 Nov 1923 to 9 Jun 1925, He was assigned to the 91st Aero Squadron (Observation) at Ross Field Arcadia, CA. Ross Field is where he retired as a Master Sergeant with at least 21 years service.

I also got with the uniforms an old black leather flying cap and a set of WW1 US flying goggles.

The National Personnel Records Center said he was awarded the WW1 Victory Medal with bar: "Defensive Sector".

Thanks again George Albert

Edited by army historian
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  • 2 weeks later...

You won't find detailed qualifications for the Observer wing, as General Order 38 (1918) basically said that if you "graduated from an authorized school for aerial observers" (airplane or balloon) you could wear the wing. Airplane observers had to also pass a "prescribed test in aerial gunnery" but the balloon observer did not. So, whatever was in the course material was the qualifying criteria for the "flying anal opening," as the insignia was dubbed soon after its creation.

By the way, the school for balloon observers was at Fort Omaha.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest mrmac1903

There are two types of WWI Observers. Aircraft and Balloon.

The odds are since he was assigned to a Squadron he fell into the aircraft type.

Aircraft Observers worn the 1/2 wing with shield from 27 October 1917 to 29 December 1917 when the pattern was changed to a "Gothic O, 5/8 inch in height"

In the book "America's First Eagles" all the balloon observers are shown with the O wing.

You asked about meteorology - General Order 112, 22 August 1917 Requirement 4 to become a Junior Military Aeronaut states:

Evidence that the candidate has had instruction in meteorology and its application to aerial navigation...

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  • 4 months later...

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