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May 18, 1918, American Anti-Air’s first recorded kill. A German observation plane was crossing between the security of the Germany’s lines into the buffer of no man’s land to collect information on unit positions. An alert crew of the 2nd Antiaircraft Battery was located approximately 2,700 meters away and was armed with two French 75mm guns. As the crew prepared the shell fuses for the desired altitude, Lt. A. T. Slaten calculated the necessary data, on range, location, and speed. Soon the air was filled with the burst of powder and fragmentation, and the effects provided results.

The German observation plane went into a dive, followed by an uncontrolled spiral, then crashed into the 500 meters of ground known as no-man’s land. The crew managed to survive the crash, and they scrambled from the wreckage and behind German lines. That night, a French infantry patrol ventured across friendly lines to strip the enemy plane of its machine guns and other useful equipment. The patrol was also successful in cutting away a piece of the aircraft underbelly and later presented it to the American battery commander, Capt. E. A. Mellon, as a souvenir and confirmation of the American’s first recorded kill.

St. Barbara Award Cheat Sheet