High School Wall of Honor
MG Jacob Earl Fickel (USAF, ret.)
Class of 1899
Spanish American War, WWI, WWII
Years of Service: 1904-1946
|Research done by Claradell Shedd, class of 1953.|
|Jacob Earl Fickel|
|Fickel was a former enlisted soldier who was awarded a commission in 1907. He was assigned to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps during the First World War but did not qualify as an aviator until the war was over. He attended the Command and General Staff School and Army War College between the wars and eventually rose to command 4 Air Force when war broke out in the Pacific. He spent the remainder of the war in technical training commands. In July, 1909, while in Des Moines, he lived at 1810 9th Street. His parents were Joel and Margaret Fickel. He married Marion Allison.|
From 1867-71 the regiment fought in the Indian Wars in Montana and North Dakota. In June 1898 the regiment was sent to Cuba and led the 1st Infantry's attack on San Juan Hill, capturing the Spanish flag. In 1897 the 13th US Infantry had been filmed at Fort Jay on Governors Island, New York where they were posted in the years before World War I. The regiment saw combat in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, and was assigned to the 8th Infantry Division in June 1918. As a member of this organization, the regiment did not participate in WWI.
**Spruce Production Company, Portland
Though located some distance inland, Portland (122.717W 45.563N) was a major port because it was readily accessible to oceangoing vessels via the Columbia River. Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation produced tankers at Swan Island Shipyard with 8 ways, and additional major shipyards were under construction in nearby Vancouver in 1941 under a contract between the Maritime Commission and Kaiser Shipbuilding. At the time war broke out, the city was garrisoned by 29 Engineer Regiment.
Pendleton Field, a major military airfield, was located nearby (122.595W 45.575N). 64 Transport Wing had its headquarters here, and the field based 25 C-47s of 16 Transport Squadron, 52 B-25s of 17 Medium Bomber Group, and 75 P-40s of 55 Interceptor Group.
General Jacob Earl Fickel (31 January 1883 7 August 1956) had
a prominent career in the United States Air Force usually associated
with being an instructor of aviation.
Fickel is credited with firing the first recorded gunshot ever from an airplane on August 20th, 1910. From his passenger seat he fired a rifle twice at a target from an altitude of 100 feet with Glenn H. Curtiss flying the airplane. It was done at Sheepshead Bay Race Track near New York City. He is crediting with proving that a gun could be fired from an airplane without the plane breaking up into pieces due to the guns recoil.
Fickel became the first aerial gunner in America. These experiments led to low recoil machine guns. Soon thereafter machine guns were added to planes for air-to-ground attack or air-to-air fighting. The first airplane machine guns were patented by Samuel Neal McClean. He sold his rights to the Automatic Arms Company in late 1910. Issac N. Lewis working for the company later improved the technology on this airplane machine gun system.
The first use of an airplane machine gun in combat
was in August 1914 with the first recorded airplane shot down in air-to-air
fighting in October of that year. By 1915 air combat was an integral
part of World War I fighting.
General Fickel was born in Des Moines, IA, on Jan. 31, 1883. He enlisted in the Regular Army in 1904 and served as a private, corporal, sergeant, and first sergeant of Company K, 27th Infantry, until February 1907, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry.
During his three years of enlisted service, General Fickel was stationed at Columbus Barracks, OH; Fort Sheridan, IL.; and Fort Leavenworth, KS. Shortly after receiving his commission, he joined the 29th Infantry at Fort Douglas, UT, and in August 1907 sailed with that regiment for the Philippine Islands. He served at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines until the summer of 1909 when he returned to the United States for station at Fort Jay, NY., with the 29th Infantry until January 1912, and at Fort Niagara, NY., until November 1913.
General Fickel then sailed for a second tour of duty in the Philippine Islands with the 13th Infantry, serving at Fort William McKinley and Camp McGrath until March 1917. Returning to the United States, he was assigned to duty as an instructor at the Officers Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN., where he remained until November 1917 when he was ordered to Washington, D.C., for duty with the Headquarters of the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. He served in that capacity until May 1918 when he was ordered to Rockwell Field, CA., as a student officer at the flying school. Upon completion of his course in November 1918, he assumed command of Carruthers Field, TX, where he remained until January 1919.
General Fickel was then ordered back to Washington, D.C., where he served in the Office of the Chief of Air Service until March 1921. His next duty was with the U.S. Spruce Production Corporation at Portland, Ore., where he served until the summer of 1922, returning to Washington for a two-year tour of duty as Chief of the Supply Division of the Air Service. In June 1925, he graduated from the Air Corps Technical School at Langley Field, Va., and in June 1926 from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
He next served as Executive of the Materiel Division at McCook Field, OH, until April 1927, after which he attended the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX, for three months. He then returned to McCook Field where he reassumed the duties of Executive Officer, Materiel Division, for a period of three years.
He then attended the Army War College, Washington, D.C., from which he graduated in June 1931. His next assignment was duty as Chief of the Buildings and Grounds Division in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, Washington, D.C., in which capacity he served until January 1935.
From February 1935 to June 1936, General Fickel was Commandant of the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX. He was then ordered to duty as Air Officer of the Ninth Corps Area, with Headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA., in which capacity he served until March 1939. He was then assigned to command the 1st Wing of the General Headquarters Air Force at March Field, Calif., with the temporary rank of brigadier general.
In February 1940, he was appointed Assistant Chief of Air Corps in Washington, D.C., and was later assigned to Riverside, CA., on Oct. 12, 1940, as Air District Commander, transferring as Commanding General of District No. 3 Technical Training Command, OK, on March 5, 1942.
|Died: August 7, 1956; Wiesbaden, Germany|
|Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"|
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