American fliers storm Paris on Bastille Day

Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.

Who are these Americans in Paris on Bastille Day?

Gen. J.J. Pershing at Paris with World Fliers. Left to right: Lieuts. Ogden, Arnold, Smith,Gen. Pershing, Lieuts. Wade, Nelson, Harding (US Air Force Pre-1954 Official Still Photography Collection)

In 1924, a group of Americans were welcomed by thousands of Frenchmen in Paris on Bastille Day. There was no war, but General Pershing requested a meeting with them, as did the President of France, with whom they attended the Olympics as his special guests later on. He also offered these six American lieutenants the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration.

But who were these American servicemen? What group of people would draw such attention from President Doumergue, or Blackjack Pershing, or the throngs of Parisians who fought crowds just to catch glimpses of the six? They were six airmen racing to be the first humans to ever circle the globe by air, and their story (“Magellans of the Sky”) is in the newest issue of Prologue magazine, which hits the shelves (and the Internet) next week.

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