During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were children of the wealthy who were attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in bronze with the squadron emblem for every member of his squadron. He carried his medallion in a small leather pouch about his neck.
Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the lieutenant's aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire and he was forced to land behind enemy lines, where was immediately captured by a German patrol. To discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. At one point, he was taken to a French town near the front so he took advantage of a night bombardment; he donned civilian clothes, and escaped. However, he was without personal identification.
He succeeded in avoiding German patrols and reached the front lines, crossed no-mans-land, and eventually stumbled into a French outpost. Unfortunately, the French in this had been plagued by saboteurs who sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a German saboteur, and made ready to execute him. Just in time, the pilot remembered his leather pouch containing the medallion and showed the medallion to his would be executioners. His French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion and delayed long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine.
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