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The Characters

(L to R) James MCConnell, Kiffin Rockwell, Captain Georges Thenault, Norman Prince, Victor Chapman. Only Thenault survived.


They were all types—some Ivy League educated; some raised on the streets. The youngest was 20, the oldest, 40. There were three architects, four lawyers, a physician, and one former human cannonball. One was blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Two of them were not even human—they were lions. The story is the characters, all of them defending France. Their leadership showed the United States the way before America entered the war.







William Thaw, the carefree playboy who became a beloved, fearless leader. It was said that he could have gotten along without the squadron but not the reverse.

William Thaw and “Whiskey”




Norman Prince, the irrepressible son of a wealthy tycoon who committed to his unrelenting vision for an American squadron in defiance of his domineering father.





Victor Chapman was descended from Founding Father John Jay, and was as devoted to helping others as he was addicted to danger. He was loved by all.





Kiffin Rockwell, whose idealism was matched by his bravery and his unrelenting hunt for the enemy. He scored the Escadrille’s first kill.





Mrs. Alice Weeks, the grieving American mother whose Parisian home became a loving refuge for the American volunteers.





Bert Hall, who fought with courage and played cards (and everything else) without scruples.






James McConnell loved a good joke, a beautiful woman, and wrote one of the finest accounts of the Escadrille.





Raoul Lufbery, the inscrutable loner who became a consummate ace, and who was the lion cubs’ best friend.





Edmond Genet, the 20-year old deserter from the US Navy, was haunted by an unrequited love and fought fearlessly in the trenches and in the air.





Edwin Parsons and Didier Masson—two former mercenaries who’d flown on opposite sides of the Mexican Revolution who came together as comrades.





James Norman Hall, the poet/journalist who miraculously survived two shootdowns and imprisonment, and later coauthored Mutiny on the Bounty.





Ray Bridgman, the pacifist who shot down four enemy planes—endlessly struggling to reconcile his belief in his cause and his hatred for the war.