Charles S. Chase, Jr.
One of Ellington Field's First Instructors
from Ellington 1918
Courtesy of Gary White
Charles S. Chase, Jr.
from Ellington 1918
Courtesy of Gary White
First Formation Flight, 1918
     The first detachment of men came on the night of November 10. A cold, penetrating wind swept the field when they arrived. It was the 120th squadron, in charge of First Lieutenant William J. Dunn, Jr. (Now Captain Dunn). This squadron came from San Antonio, and was composed mostly of mechanics.
     The ment established themselves in barracks which lacked many of the facilities now enjoyed. The field was by no means completed. The men did not suffer hardships, but were forced to work under many difficulties.
     Airplanes soon began to arrive, and the men worked from reveille until taps assembling them. The first flying officer to arrive was Major Patrick Fressell.
     He was here only a short time before Lieut. Col. John Curry arrived. That was on Tuesday, November 27, and Col. Curry assumed actual command of the field.
     From then on action was seen at Ellington. Major Walter H. Frank arrived on December 20. He was executive officer. Captain Lorenz arrived almost the same day as quartermaster. Then Major L. F. Luckie, post surgeon, arrived. One by one the executive officers streamed in. On November 27 the first airplane took the air at Ellington.
     The first formation flight made at Ellington took place on December 5. Ten ships took part, and it was made for the benefit of the Red Cross drive in Houston. For the first time Houstonians actually saw a bombing formation, and the streets of the city were thronged. Every neck was craned skyward as the planes sped over the city dropping Red Cross literature. Sirens shrieked from factories and bells rang in welcome.
     Those who took part in the formation were Col. Curry, as leader; Walter E. Lees, Roger Jannus, Torrey H. Webb, Cyrus S. Smythe, Chas. S. Chase, Jr., L. L. Snow, Lloyd L. Harvey, Logan McMenemy, Ben S. Robertson and Captain Dunn.
     It is interesting to note how fate has dealt with these men. Col. Curry, our first Commanding Officer and the leader of that formation, went overseas.
     Walter F. Lees is a civilian instructor.
Captain Roger Jannus was killed over the lines in France.
     Lieut. Torrey H. Webb flew the first aerial mail ship from Washington to New York.
     Captain Cyrus S. Smythe, who made the first flight, had a thrilling experience a few months ago. Following a big explosion in a munition factory in New Jersey, Smythe flew over the wrecked area and made observation as to the damage. At the time it was impossible to get within miles of the place, due to the successive blasts.
     Charles S. Chase, Jr., is still at the field.
     Snow, Harvey, McMenemy and Robertson are all overseas, and have made splendid records.
     Under the direction of Col. Curry and Major Frank the training program of the field was outlined. The first detachment of cadets arrived on December 17. These came from Rantoul, and had received their preliminary flying there. On the night of December 17, twelve more cadets came from Belleville. On December 18 about 140 cadets came from Dayton.
     Many of these cadets are now overseas, many are at the field, and some have "gone west."
     Planes and more planes began to arrive, and soon the sky around Houston and Galveston was alive with these giant birds, that scooted, glided, and darted like frightened sea gulls.
     The field was still in its infacy, and these cadets had "some time." Many of them have made enviable records overseas. But many who were not so fortunate in getting in the big show, have made splendid records at the field. Those that are still here have been promoted and fill important executive positions. Many are commanders of the various stages at the field.
     Included among the first detachment fo cadets were Cook, Gilcrest, James, Gelwicks, Mather, Peterson, Searle, Calef, Ralston, Parmer, Davies, Scheffield, Baez, Markel, Nelson, Hollingsworth, Williams, Parson, Tanner, Braun, Parker, Nolan, Hanson, Melick, Mason, Holmes, Bowles, Johnsons, Grethen, Collins and Ernst.
     As stated, many of these boys battled gloriously "Somewhere in space." Some paid the penalty. Capricious fate dealt a cruel hand with others, and some are still at the field.
     The first fatality occurred in January, when "Toby" Carroll crashed near Genoa.
     Practically all of the cadets were commissioned in January.
     From then on Ellington becames the peer of flying fields. The vearious stages were started and the cadet went through an exceedingly intensive training program before he sprouted wings.
From Ellington 1918
Courtesy of Gary White

I have no information as to his dates of birth or death.

Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper
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