Military History/169th Aero Squadron
QUESTION: We have received a WWI uniform as a donation to the Denton County Museums. The uniform belonged to a man whose military service was with the 169th Aero Squadron, Pershing's First Army, AEF, 1917-1919. Can you please provide me with any information you have regarding the 169th? Thanks.
ANSWER: Hello Kate,
Unfortunately, the 169th Aero Squadron did not go Overseas and therefore did not see any combat/front line action in WWI. As a result, there is very little to no information on Stateside Aero Squadrons or any WWI Squadron that did not see combat, or served on the front lines.
Here is what I can tell you about the 169th Aero Squadron.
The 169th Aero Squadron trained at Hazelhurst Field #2, which was located at Nassau County, Hempstead Plains, NY. Hazelhurst Field was used as a training base for Military Pilots.
Here is wartime aerial view of Hazelhurst Field.
Hazelhurst Field was originally called Camp Black which operated from 1898, to 1917, and in 1917, it was renamed Hazelhurst Field in 1917, in honor of Leighton Hazelhurst the first U.S. Army NCO killed in an aviation accident. Here is the history of Camp Black, and Leighton Hazelhurst.
Here is the information of Hazelhurst Field…Hazelhurst Field was renamed Curtis Field in 1920.
Here is what the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of the 169th Aero Squadron look liked, there are two known variations.
Almost all of the official squadron histories were written immediately after the armistice (11/11/1918) and a majority of them were based on wartime (in theater) daily reports, and reviews. All the squadrons who served overseas are catalogued in “Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919.”
The 169th Aero Squadron is not mentioned in Gorrell’s’ History. However the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center has records of Hazelhurst Field, you can contact the N.Y.S.M.M. & V. R.C and ask them for what information they have on Hazelhurst Field, and if they have any documents, or paperwork on Units/Squadrons who trained there.
They no longer do public research inquiries, but since you are a museum yourself, I am sure they will be more than willing to assist you.
Here is their contact information.
New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center
61 Lake Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Telephone Number (main): (518) 581-5100
Fax Number: (518) 581-5111
Telephone Number (research) (518) 581-5109
You can also call, or e-mail the Research Services at the New York State Archives to see if they have any information regarding the 169th Aero Squadron. Here is the Research Services at the New York State Archives, contact information.
Research Services At the New York State Archives
Phone: (518) 474-8955
Military units, especially squadrons (the 169th Aero Squadron was a training squadron) left here in the US were usually relegated tor training, and only the Officers of the Squadron, usually only the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and on occasion another 2nd LT were listed.
The unfortunate norm for training units is anyone who went through training, or was only temporarily assigned to the unit are usually never listed in any of the books.
Here is the history of the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps.
Here is the history of the United States Army Air Service.
If the links do not allow you to click on them directly, cut and paste them into a new browser.
I hope that I have been able to answer your question. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me and I would me more than happy to answer them.
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QUESTION: OK, thanks for the info. Some of it I had already found, such as the arm patches. But, the patch on our uniform is quite different. It is on the left sleave, appears to be a black square A with a group of circles inset in the bottom half of the A...light brown with navy blue inside that with a filled white dot inside that. The uniform has signal corps button on the top left of the collar. We have a plaque that provides the info that the man belonged to the 169th but it looks like we may have two different things going on here. Any information you could provide in addition would be very helpful.
The patch you are talking about is the 1st Army (A.E.F.) Aero Patch.
It should look something similar to this patch.
Can you send me photos of the uniform, as well as the mans name? I will try to research it from that aspect, and find out where he was if at all possible.