Eddie Rickenbacker, a race car driver, World War I ace, aviation pioneer and Medal of Honor recipient was one of the Air Force’s early legends.
Soon after arriving in France, Rickenbacker transferred to the Air Service and learned to fly. He then was made an engineering officer because of his great knowledge of gasoline engines.
His most remarkable action came on Sept. 25, 1918, as Rickenbacker patrolled alone near Billy, France. He spotted a group of seven enemy aircraft, and despite the strength of their numbers, boldly attacked and shot down two of them. President Herbert Hoover awarded Rickenbacker the Medal of Honor in 1930 for his aggressiveness in that action.
Rickenbacker went on to become an aviation executive, and he advised the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. He died in 1973 and is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.