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1st Lt. William P. Erwin

Chicago, Illinois

William P. Erwin was born on October 18, 1895 in Ryan, Oklahoma. He was the son of a Baptist minister.

On July 19, 1918 Lt. Erwin was assigned to the 1st Aero Observation Squadron in France, and flew the Spad XI and the Salmson 2A2. He flew with Lt. Byrne V. Baucom as observer.

During the Great War Lt. Erwin was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for action on July 20, 1918, the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster for action on June, July and September 12-15, 1918 and as second Distinguished Service Cross for action on November 5, 1918. 

Lt. Erwin was an American Ace with eight kills.

On August 16, 1927 Captain William P. Erwin, pilot, and Alvin Eichwaldt, navigator were scheduled to participate in the Dole Air Race between Oakland, California and Honolulu, Hawaii. Their monoplane was the Dallas Spirit, but they were forced to abort because of fuselage damage. However, three days later, and with a fifty-watt short-wave transmitter installed, they took off for Honolulu on an attempted around-the-world flight, and to search for two participants of the Dole Air Race that had gone down in the Pacific. 

At 9:03 p.m. the Dallas Spirit crashed into the Pacific after going into a spin. Amateur radio operators listened as Eichwaldt continued sending to the bitter end.

Biography of Byrne Virchow Baucom

The bio information is courtesy of Mrs. Jenny Kellum, Red Oak, Texas. 

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