Thursday, September 25, 2003

Ohio moments


Capt. Rickenbacker was WW I 'Ace of Aces'

On Sept. 25, 1918, Ohio native Eddie Rickenbacker - commander of the 94th Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Service - single-handedly attacked a formation of seven German airplanes over Billy, France. The 27-year-old lieutenant shot down two of them, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Born Edward Reichenbacher on Oct. 8, 1890, on a farm near Columbus, he dropped out of school in the sixth grade to support his family after his father died. He Americanized his name as the United States entered World War I. Rickenbacker flew 134 combat missions and shot down 26 German aircraft - six more than any other U.S. pilot. Dubbed America's Ace of Aces, he rose to the rank of captain.

Before the war, he was a race-car driver who competed in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. He set the world land speed record of 134 mph at Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1914. After the war, he bought and operated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Eastern Airlines.

Rickenbacker died in 1973, at age 82.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8361.




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