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First Name: Paul

Last Name: Baer

Birthplace: Fort Wayne, IN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Service, U.S. Army (1918 - 1926)

Middle Name: Frank

Date of Birth: 29 January 1894

Date of Death: 09 December 1930

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served:
Paul Frank Baer

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Paul Frank Baer
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Service

Paul Frank Baer was born on 29 January 1894 in Fort Wayne, IN.

Baer quit selling Cadillacs to join the military. He was described as short, sturdy, pink-cheeked, square-featured, with brown hair and blue eyes.

World War I

He joined the Lafayette Flying Corps in 1917 and was posted to Escadrille 80 from August 1917 to January 1918. He joined the Lafayette Escadrille in February, just in time for its transition into the 103rd Aero Squadron. He scored his first aerial victory for the 103rd on 11 March 1918; it was the first triumph of the U.S. Army Air Service. He continued to score and, on 22 May he shot down his ninth enemy aircraft (confirmed). However, he too was shot down during this victory, and fell into German hands. He remained a prisoner of war until after the armistice. If his seven unconfirmed wins had been verified, he would have been one of the leading American aces.

Post-War Service

He continued to fly after the war. In late 1919, he became a member of the American Flying Club and tried, unsuccessfully, to raise a squadron of fifteen American aviation combat veterans to form a "Pulaski Squadron" to support the Polish drive for independence. Baer foresaw his role as commanding the unit with the rank of Major. He claimed to have Paderewski's support for his efforts.

Baer went on to forge a career in civil aviation. By 1927, he was a Department of Commerce aeronautics inspector in San Antonio, TX. He then spent about a year flying as a commercial pilot in South America.

On 9 December 1930, Baer died in an aircraft accident in Shanghai. He was taking off in a floatplane with a Russian woman as his passenger. Baer's plane struck the mast of a junk on the Yangtze River and crashed. He was believed to have about 3,500 flight hours experience when he died.

Medals and Awards

Baer was the recipient of two awards of the Distinguished Service Cross.

Citation for First Award: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Paul Frank Baer, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism on 11 March 1918. First Lieutenant Baer attacked, alone, a group of seven enemy pursuit machines, destroying one, which fell near the French lines northeast of Reims, France. On 16 March 1918, he attacked two enemy two-seaters, one of which fell in flames in approximately the same region.

Citation for Second Award: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Paul Frank Baer, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action. First Lieutenant Baer brought down enemy planes on 5, 12, and 23 April 1918 and on 8 May 1918. First Lieutenant Baer destroyed two German machines, and on 21 May 1918, he destroyed his eighth enemy plane.


Baer Field, the principal airport in Fort Wayne, IN, is named in his honor.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Paul Frank Baer died on 9 December 1930 in a plane crash in Shanghai, China. He is buried at Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, IN.

Honoree ID: 2089   Created by: MHOH




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