David Endicott Putnam

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David Endicott Putnam
David Endicott Putnam, 1918
Born (1898-12-10)December 10, 1898
Died September 12, 1918(1918-09-12) (aged 19)
Limey, France
Buried at Lafayette Memorial du Parc de Garches, Paris, France
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Aéronautique Militaire (France)
Air Service, United States Army
Years of service 1917 - 1918
Unit Aéronautique Militaire

Air Service, United States Army

Battles/wars World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War I

David Endicott Putnam (December 10, 1898 – September 12, 1918) was an American flying ace of World War I.

A descendant of General Israel Putnam[1] he was born at Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts[2] and attended Harvard University before joining the Lafayette Flying Corps of the French Air Service in 1917. In June of the following year, he joined the United States Air Service.[3]

Military service

Putnam joined the French Foreign Legion on 31 May 1917. He was transferred to the air service and trained at Avord. He was assigned to Escadrille SPA 94 on 12 December 1917, and was posted to SPA 156 on 7 February 1918. While with the latter unit, he shot down four planes before being transferred to SPA 38 on 1 June 1918, where he claimed two more planes shot down. He was discharged in June 1918.

When the United States entered the war, Putnam joined the United States Air Service as a first lieutenant and briefly assumed command of the 134th Aero Squadron before joining the 139th Aero Squadron as a flight commander.

While with the 139th, Putnam scored three victories before he was killed in action.

He wrote to Henry Gibson, director of Camp Becket-in-the-Berkshires, where Putnam had been a camper and counsellor, "Can you imagine anyone falling 20,000 feet, nearly four miles, smashing a machine to kindling wood and only getting a broken tooth out of it all? No! Well, I am afraid you are going to try, for that is just what I did yesterday morning."[clarification needed][citation needed]


Just before his own death, Putnam remarked to his mother in a letter in light of a death of a friend, “Isn’t it glorious to give up your life for the great cause? What more could one ask?”

Putnam’s SPAD XIII was shot down by German ace Lt. Georg von Hantelmann.[4] He was shot in the heart. He was scheduled to return home before his death. The official cablegram read, "Lieutenant David Endicott Putnam, killed September 12, 1918; buried September 14, at Toul in a field golden with buttercups, beside Luftbury, Blair, and Thaw."

Awards and decorations

Putnam shot down thirteen confirmed planes, but unconfirmed totals range from twenty-six to thirty in German territory. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously), the Croix de Guerre, with palms and stars, the Médaille militaire, the Cross of the Legion of Honor,[5] and the American Areo Club Medal.

A French battleship was named after him. He was also recommended for the Medal of Honor.[6]

See also


  1. "David Putnam". theaerodrome.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "American Aces of WW1 - David E. Putnam". wwiaviation.com (An illustrated History of World War One).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Over the Front, p. 66.
  4. American Aces of World War 1. p. 22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. American Aces of World War 1. p. 23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. American Aces of World War 1. pp. 22–23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links