The 1st Pursuit Group claimed more enemy kills than any other Group in the United States Air Service in World War I, partly thanks to 'ace of aces', Eddie Rickenbacker, and balloon-busting ace, Frank Luke, both of whom also earned the Medal of Honor. Starting operations in March 1918, the Group initially flew Nieuport 28s, now rejected by the French, and quickly showed its quality. Douglas Campbell was the first American-trained pilot in the USAS to make a kill and soon afterwards became the Service's first ace. Expanded by the arrival of additional squadrons, the Group went to war in earnest over Château Thierry in July, suffering heavy losses against experienced German pilots and better airplanes. Re-equipped with the superior Spad XIII, the now battle-seasoned Group achieved its full potential over St. Mihiel and the Argonne.
This is the story of the Group that produced some of America's first fighter aces and its rapid evolution over a few months as a deadly rival to opposing German units with years of combat experience behind them. Its publication marks the 90th anniversary of 1st Pursuit Group's distinguished contribution to Allied victory.
"Guttman describes the group's operations from its arrival in Europe to its demobilization in 1919 and includes accounts from more recent reunions. Readers interested in the history of the U.S. Army Air Service will find rich detail about a unit that remains in service with the U.S. Air Force as the 1st Operations Group, still inspired by its old motto, Aut Vincere Aut Mori ("Conquer or Die")." -Thomas Zacharis, Military History (May 2009)
"Author Jon Guttman takes us through the faltering starts and later the more intense battles against some of the best that the German Fliegerkorps had to offer. Chock full of superb period photos of both the men and their machines, this is further enhanced by the quality profiles of artist Harry Demspsey, who specializes in WWI fighter aircraft. This all equates to the best book on the subject that I have read. A riveting account of the early days of US aerial combat and a book that I can most highly recommend to you."- Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (June 2008).