8th Aero Squadron






The 8th Aero Squadron was formed on June 21st, 19l7 . The enlisted personnel was drawn from 2nd Company ā€œIā€ Provisional Aviation Camp,  Kelly Field , South San Antonio, Texas.

Captain S. H. Wheeler was appointed Commanding Officer.  
Arthur S. Young  1st Sergeant.            




Sheldon Wheeler  -  1918




Officers  A.E.F.  1918

Enlisted  A.E.F.  1918 


Returning from WWI, the squadron was demobilized on 5 May 1919 at Mitchell Field, Long Island, New York. The squadron was then sent to Kelly Field, Texas on May 25, 1919. One officer and the Squadron records were transferred to Kelly Field, Texas. After reorganization at Kelly Field, Texas on July 5, 1919 in which one officer and 150 men were assigned from Rockwell Field, California. The Squadron was reorganized on a peacetime strength manning of two flights and on July 16, 1919, Flight "A" left relocated to McAllen, Texas, where they flew Mexican border patrol missions until June 1921. (SITE NOTE: On June 1919 Captain George Kenney returned to the U.S. after commanding the 91st Aero Sqdn in WWI and was reassigned to the 8th Aero Squadron at McAllen, Texas. As a three-star he would direct the South Pacific air war. He would rise to 4-star rank in 1945 and head the Strategic Air Command in 1946.)

According to an Invader news article, "New personnel were drawn from Rockwell Field, California, equipped with DH-4 aircraft and then divided into two flights: one at Laredo Texas and the other at McAllen, Texas. These flights were engaged in Border Patrol duty until they were re-assembled at Kelly Field on June 30, 1921." (Source: Invader, news article, date unknown, Jack Lewis.)

Border Patrol Duty The 8th Squadron remained in Texas from June 1921 until March 1, 1935. The 8th conducted air operations patrolling of the Mexican border from August 1918 - June 1921. According to the 3rd Wing History, "Revolution and disorder had broken out in Mexico, resulting in border violations and the killing of American citizens. The unrest prompted the stationing of forces in southern Texas, including an aerial surveillance group. Four units with World War I experience, the 8th, 12th, 13th (formerly the 104th), and 90th Aero Observation Squadrons, were grouped to form the Army Surveillance Group. On 15 August 1919, the Army redesignated the group as the 1st Surveillance Group."

The following is from History, 8th Bombardment Squadron (L), 3d Bombardment Group (L) AAF, 31 May 1917 - 31 March 1944 (Compiled September 1945):

The personnel consisted of nine officers and 46 enlisted men. The airfield had to be cleared by a construction squadron and by Aug 18, had succeeded in clearing off enough cactus and mesquite for a safe landing with a JND4 and in erecting seven tent hangars and several framed tent structures. The first flight was made by this part of the Squadron on July 29, and as fast as planes could be assembled, border patrol work started.

Squadron Headquarters end Flight "B" remained at Kelly Field until August 13, 1919, when Flight "B" left for Laredo, Texas, and Headquarters, consisting of two officers and 17 men, joined the flight at McAllen.

' Flight "B" was equipped with six DH4's which had been assembled at Kelly Field and were flown down to Laredo and the Flight was ready to operate. Captain D.W. McNabb was Flight Commander. Captain J. W. Ramsey had succeeded 1st Lt. Vincent J. Meloy in command of Flight "A" at McAllen, Texas.

Work of building a permanent camp at both flight stations was started at once, after their arrival at their respective stations. There was no money to buy lumber or other building material. However, seven buildings were erected at McAllen by playing the old army game with the Construction Quartermaster, and about the same number was erected at Laredo.

In August, 1919, the Squadron had the first casualty since the return from overseas, Lt. F. Robinson being killed, and his observer, 2nd Lt. U. L. Reddy, seriously injured in an airplane crash near Laredo.

During the same month, while flying patrol along the river from Laredo to Zapata, 2nd Lt. Fonda B. Johnson and his observer, Captain McNabb, were fired upon by Mexican troops and forced to land after bullets had pierced the radiator of the plane. Captain McNabb sustained a. slight bullet wound in the head from the Mexican fire and was evacuated to the hospital.

Operations Split between McAllen and Laredo Flight "A" continued operations at McAllen Airfield and Flight "B" operated from Laredo Airfield. During March 1920, the new DH4B's, ferried down to McAllen and Laredo by Kelly Field pilots, "were put through the mill and it wasn't long before all pilots began to sing their praises. They were specially good for observation and liaison purposes since the new arrangements of cockpits put the pilot and observer close together."

In May 1920, Lt. Mile McCune made the first pararoute jump of any station on the border and without any previous experience or training along this line. Lt. Fonda B. Johnson made a record jump at the Laredo Airdrome. No jumps were made at McAllen as the parachutes had been sent to San Antonio for changes in construction.

On August 3, 1920, orders were received to send Lts. Stoner, Crocker, Hartman and Walthal with enlisted men, via airplane,and Lt. Virgin and thirty-five enlisted men by train, to Pope Field, Fayetteville, North Carolina, to operate in connection with the Artillery Shoots being carried on at Camp Bragg. The group designated was Flight "B" from Laredo. With so many officers at Camp Bragg, it left only Lts. McCune, Glascock and McKiernan, with Captain Kice, surgeon, to carryon the necessary duties at the Laredo Airdrome.

On May 15, 1921, Lt. Crocker from Laredo and Lts. Reynolds and Skanse from McAllen, were ordered to join other officers proceeding to Langley Field via train, to assist in the carrying out of project "B". Project "B" was the official designation of the bombing test conducted off the Virginia coast, in which obsolete battleships and captured German battleships were bombed and sunk. A great amount of experience and training was obtained from this expedition. Large planes were flown; latest bomb dropping devices were used; bombs weighing from twenty-five to 2,000 pounds were dropped; gas, smoke, phosphorus and armor piercing bombs used; wireless telephone controls employed; flights one hundred miles to sea were made. Sinking different type battleships, night flying and bombing, and using parachute flares seventy-five miles out at sea were all in the program of project "B".

Still flying the deHavilland DH-4, it was redesignated at the 8th Squadron (Surveillance) in June 1921. The group initially flew daily border patrols between Brownsville, Texas and Nogales, Arizona. They turned into weekly patrols as unrest along the border subsided. Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, a senior staff officer in the Army Air Service, felt that border patrols had been a waste of time. He foresaw a better use for the 1st Surveillance Group as an attack unit. Since the group had been flying low-level observation missions and many of its pilots experienced combat during World War I, General Mitchell believed it ideal for the new mission. The Army redesignated it as the 3rd Attack Group on 2 July 1921.

Squadron Returns to Kelly Field On June 20, 1921, all personnel and material was ordered from Laredo and McAllen to Kelly Field, Texas, with the exception of three caretakers at each station. On arrival at Kelly Field both flights were consolidated with Lt. Heloy commanding and Lt. Glascock as Adjutant and Supply officer. Flight "B" elements which had been deployed to Camp Bragg on September 26, 1921, were transferred in name only from Camp Bragg to Kelly Field and the personnel consisting of 2 officers and thirty enlisted men, were absorbed by the 22nd Squadron (observation).

During the month of July 1921 "many changes occurred due to the reduction and reorganization of the Army. Fifty-five enlisted men were discharged and seventy-five Air service men, part of a detachment of 200 men from March Field, California, and twenty-two Signal Corps men, were attached to the Squadron." The Squadron was seriously handicapped due to shortage of personnel. By 1922, the total. strength of "fifty-two enlisted men; of which ten were absent on various duties, twenty-two on extra and special duty, with only twenty men for duty." Recruiting was slow, and only increased to near authorized strength on December 31, 1922 with 119 men.

On September 15, 1921, the designation of the Group was changed from 1st Surveillance Group to 3rd Group (Attack). The 3rd Attack Group returned to Kelly Field in 1921 where it underwent an extended period of training



ERNEST M. ALLISON (1894-1976)

August 17, 1919 transferred to the 8th Aero Squadron and assigned to McAllen, Texas, on border patrol.