Today in Military History: Feb. 5, 1918, First American Aerial Victory

Lt. Stephen W. Thompson. (U.S. Air Force photo)


On February 5, 1918, Lt. Stephen W. Thompson becomes the first American to earn an aerial      victory while substituting as a gunner with a French squadron during World War I. He shot down a German Albatross D. III over Saarbrucken.

The Dayton, Ohio native went to observe a French bombing squardon since his American squadron had not started flying missions yet. A French observer became ill and Lt. Thompson filled in. Because of the unique nature of the aerial victory Lt. Thompson was not credited with it until 1967.