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He was chief of American Expeditionary Force's Air Service in World War I, postwar head of U.S. Air Service, for whom Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa, Fla., is named. He was born Dec. 13, 1863 at Lewisburg, W.Va., and died Jan. 29, 1942, in Washington, D.C.

Mason Mathews Patrick, son of a surgeon of the Confederate Army, attended private schools in Lewisburg and graduated number two in his class from the U.S. Military Academy in 1886, being a classmate of General John J. Pershing. Patrick served at Long Island, N.Y., for three years. In June 1889 he gave aid to survivors of the Johnstown, Pa., flood. For four years he was in charge of river and harbor work in North and South Carolina.

From 1892 to 1895 he taught at West Point. He went back to engineering work on rivers in Ohio and Tennessee. In 1901 he went to Washington as assistant to the chief of engineers, and returned to West Point for three years as instructor. In 1906 he commanded the 2d Battalion of Engineers in Cuba. From 1909 to 1916 he was in charge of river and harbor work in Virginia and Michigan.

In mid-1916 Patrick organized and commanded the 1st Regiment of Engineers at San Antonio, Texas, serving with it on the Mexican border. In August 1917 he sailed for France to command the 1st Engineers in World War I. In May 1918 General Pershing named him chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, with rank of major general.

After the war he returned home and became chief of the Air Service on Oct. 5, 1921. Although 60 years old, he learned to fly under instruction of Major Herbert A. Dargue, who later became a major general. As early as 1923 the visionary Mason Patrick stated in a public speech: Undoubtedly the next war will be decided in the air."

In his six-year tenure as chief of Air Service he approved the first flight around the world by Army pilots in 1924 and the Pan-American goodwill flight to every capital in Central and South America. He initiated the experimental flying organization at Wright Field, Ohio, and recommended legislation for the Air Service to become the Air Corps in 1926, under the Secretary of War, but apart from the War Department, which eventually led to the independent U.S. Air Force.

Patrick retired as chief of the Air Corps, Dec. 12, 1927. On Aug. 26, 1950 the Air Force's long-range proving ground base at Cocoa, Fla., was named Patrick Air Force Base in honor of the old airman who died at Walter Reed General Hospital Jan. 29, 1942 at the age of 78.

(From the book "U.S. Air Force Biographical Dictionary" by Col. Flint O. DuPre, USAFR)


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