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50th Aero Squadron Harold Goettler & Erwin Bleckley to be Honored at Remicourt, France - October 7, 2009

American Aviation Historians are, in cooperation with the Office of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the US Embassy, Paris, France and the American Meuse-Argonne Military Cemetery, Romagne, France, scheduling a major event in Remicourt, France on October 7, 2009.

This event is to permanently commemorate & honor the 91st Anniversary of the Remicourt Aerodrome, the American aviators who were based there during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, September-October 1918 & the two (2) Medal of Honor receipients, Lts. Harold Goettler & Erwin Bleckley, who died during their mission on October 6, 1918 attempting to locate the American 77th Division "Lost Battalion".

Only four (4) American Air Service Medal of Honor Medals were awarded during World War I with two (2) to the above aviators of the 50th Aero Observation Squadron based at Remicourt along with the 1st Aero Squadron and the 12th Aero Squadron during this period.

Mayor M. Ghislain Deketele has proclaimed Ocotber 7, 2009 as a special day in the history of Remicourt & expects to have many dignitaries from both the French & American civil as well as miltary represented. Placement of a bronze plaque enscribed with the exploits of the American aviators wil be placed on the Marie exterior by the Mayor. Flying dispalys are planned by vintage & modern aircraft. One of the surviving nieces of Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, Nancy Erwin of Shreveport, LA is planning on attending the event with her husband, Maj. General Ralph D. Erwin. Arrangement for their private visit to Lt. Bleckley's crash & grave site are being made while in France.

The French Government 100th Annniversary WW I Historic Study Group responsible for designation of World Heritage Sites may consider the Remicourt Aerodrome Memorial for listing.

Vintage aircraft SE.5a is scheduled to fly at the Event.

- Contributed by Jerry Hester

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Update - July 21, 2009

Event Organizer, Jerry L. Hester has located both the surviving nieces of Lt. Harold Goettler, Medal of Honor, 50th Aero Squadron, Ms. Joan Starr, Wilton CT and Lt. Erwin Bleckley, Medal of Honor, also 50th Aero Squadron, Ms. Ralph D. Erwin, Shreveport, LA. They both will attend the Remicourt Event to represent their respective families. Extensive archiveal search in their family photos, papers and records is underway to supplement that already preserved. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and The League of WWI Aviation Historians have made donations to support the Events. The French Departments of the Meuse and Marne plan to send representatives for consideration of the Remicourt Aerodrome site for a 100th Anniversay site representing the US Air Service as a result of the extensive research and memorialization effort underway. VFW Post No.1, Internationl, Ramstien AB, Germany is planning to attend. It appears this event promises to be one of the outstanding WWI events in 2009. - Jerry Hester



Update - August 15, 2009

The following VIPs are expected to attend:

Remicourt Mayor Ghislain Deketele
Binarville Mayor Michel Duter
Givry-en-Argonne Mayor
Col. Robert C.Dooley, USAir Attache, US Embassy, Paris
Mr. Phillip Rivers, American Battle Monument Commission, Superintendant, American Military Meuse-Argonnne Cemetery, Romagne-sous- Montfaucon
M/Gen. & Mrs Ralph D. Erwin, USAF Retired
Ms. Joan Starr & Sons, David &Jeffrey
Mr.Fred Castier, Historian and Official Representative, American Catigny First Division Foundation
Mr.Franck Lesjean, Conseil General de la Marne
Mr.Gilles Lagin, Representative,US Marine Corps, Belleau Wood Museum
MSgt. Amber S. Putnam, USAF, Commander, VFW Post #1, Ramstein AB, Germany
Headquarters, USAF Europe Color Guard, Ramstein AB, Germany
Mr. & Mrs. Steve A. Ruffin, The League of World War I Aviation Historians
Mr. & Mrs. Jerry L. Hester, The League of World War I Aviation Historians

Update - September 15, 2009

The Kansas National Guard and the Illinois National Guard are sending delegations ot the Oct 7th Ceremonies as well as to a graveside memorial to Kansas native, Lt. Erwin Bleckley, at American Military Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France, Oct 6th in the company of the niece, Ms. Nancy Erwin, Shreveport, LA.

The Kansas National Guard delegation will consist of the Adjutant General, the Kansas Military Museum Historian, key staff officers, Public Affairs Officer, members of the Topeka Kansas press plus distinguished Kansas National Guard members flying to Ramstein AB, Germany then to the Remicourt Ceremonies. Joining them will be the Illinois Guard members including the Illinois Military Museum Historian.

The 86th Air Wing Honor Color Guard, Ramstein AB, Germany will attend the Oct 7th Ceremonies.

Planning is underway for a Kansas Air Guard KC-135 aircraft to flyby at the start of the Oct 7th Event in honor of Lts. Goettler and Bleckley and all US Air Service Aviators who conducted air operations from the Remicourt Aerodrome in World War I during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Sept-October 1918.

Update - June 14, 2010

Jerry L. Hester, WWI Aviation Historian, presented to the Commander of the Kansas Air Guard, Forbes AFB, KS, a Mike O'Neal oil painting of the Medal of Honor flight of the Kansas first Medal of Honor awardee, Lt. Harold Bleckley, Observor on the ill-fated flight of Oct 6, 1918 in the 50th Aero Squadron's DH-4 #6 piloted by Lt. Harold Goettler.This painting will be permanently displayed in the Kansas National Guard Museum, Topeka, KS.

The Kansas Air Guard sent a Honor Delegation headed by B/Gen. Deborah Rose to Remicourt, France honoring the 50th Aero Squadron and these airmen last Oct 7, 2009. Also the latest issue of Over the Front magazine is about the 50th Aero Squadron. For further information, see Over the Front WWI Aviation magazine.

Update - August 12, 2010

The surviving nieces of Lts. Goetttler & Bleckley, 50th Aero Squadron, USAS, Medal of Honor recipients, Lts.Goettler & Bleckley, will present to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, a copy of the Mike O’Neal painting of their October 6, 1918 final flight, “Mortal-Immortal”. Ms Joan Starr, niece of Lt. Goettler and Ms. Nancy Erwin & Dorothy Reichart, nieces of Lt. Bleckley will make the donation in honor of their heroes. The Museum is preparing for the 100th Anniversary WWI early aviation exhibits to be improved in the coming months under the direction of Senior Curator, Terrill Aitken.



Also see:

50th Aero Squadron Event at Remicourt, France - October 7, 2009
Harold Goettler & Erwin Bleckley Ceremony - Directions and Agenda
Event organizer Jerry Hester Biography
50th Aero Squadron Remicourt, France - Event Plan

File under:

United States Air Service
USAS
Medal of Honor
American 77th Division "Lost Battalion"
Harold Goettler
Erwin Bleckley
Remicourt, France

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