Ralph Ambrose O'Neill

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Ralph Ambrose O'Neill
Ralph Ambrose O'Neill.jpg
Ralph Ambrose O'Neill.
Nickname(s) Rodolfo O'Neill, while in Mexico.
Born (1896-12-07)December 7, 1896
Durango, Durango, Mexico
Died October 23, 1980(1980-10-23) (aged 83)
Redwood City, California
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Air Service, United States Army
Rank Lieutenant
Unit 147th Aero Squadron
Battles/wars World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War I
Adolfo de la Huerta's rebellion (Mexico).
Awards Distinguished Service Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and French Croix de Guerre.

Ralph Ambrose O'Neill (December 7, 1896 - October 23, 1980) was a flying ace from World War I credited with five aerial victories.

Biography[edit]

O'Neill was born in Durango, Durango, Mexico on 17 December 1896 to an American father and a Mexican mother. He was raised in the United States and entered the United States Air Service in August 1917. In March 1918, he was assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron, flying the Nieuport 28 and the SPAD S.XIII. From 2 July to 31 October 1918, teaming with such squadron mates as Kenneth Porter, James Meissner, Francis Simonds, and James Healy, he shot down five German airplanes. He won a Distinguished Service Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Croix de Guerre with palm in the process.[1]

After the war, he returned to the United States and left the U.S. Air Service on February 19, 1919.

In August 1920, he signed a five-year contract to set up a functional Mexican Air Force and train Mexican pilots, as Mexico was undergoing numerous rebellions and coups. In 1923, he flew several combat missions against Adolfo de la Huerta's rebellion. He left Mexico in December 1925 with the rank of general, and began a career in civil aviation. He founded the New York, Rio, and Buenos Aires Line, flying the first airmail from Argentina to Miami in a Sikorsky S-38.[2][3][4]

Military awards[edit]

  • Distinguished Service Cross (DSC):
First citation:
For extraordinary heroism in action near Château Thierry, France, 2 July 1918, Lt. O'Neill and four other pilots attacked twelve enemy battle planes. In a battle within the enemy's lines, they brought down three German planes, one of which was credited to Lt. O'Neill.
Second citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Ralph Ambrose O'Neill, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Chateau-Thierry, France: On July 5, 1918, First Lieutenant O'Neill led three other pilots in battle against eight German pursuit planes near Chateau-Thierry. He attacked the leader, opening fire at about 150 yards, and closing up to 30 yards range. After a quick and decisive fight the enemy aircraft fell in flames. He then turned on three other machines that were attacking him from the rear and brought one of them down. The other five enemy planes were driven away.
Third citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Ralph Ambrose O'Neill, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Fresnes, France, July 24, 1918: Lieutenant O'Neill, with four other pilots, engaged 12 enemy planes discovered hiding in the sun. Leading the way to an advantageous position by a series of bold and skillful maneuvers. Lieutenant O'Neill shot down the leader of the hostile formation. The other German planes then closed in on him, but he climbed to a position of vantage above them and returned to the fight and drove down another plane. In this encounter he not only defeated his opponents in spite of overwhelming odds against him, but also enabled the reconnaissance plane to carry on its work unmolested.
  • Croix de Guerre

Confirmed victories[edit]

Date Aircraft Opposing aircraft Location Credit shared with
2 July 1918 Nieuport 28 Pfalz D.III Château-Thierry Lt TC Bronson, Lt CW McDermott, Lt MO Parry, Lt Kenneth Porter, Lt JH Stevens
5 July 1918 Nieuport 28 Pfalz D.III Château-Thierry Lt Francis Simonds
24 July 1918 Nieuport 28 Fokker D.VII Bois de Eere Lt TJ Abernathy, Lt James Healy, Lt AH Jones, Lt CP Porter
24 July 1918 Nieuport 28 Fokker D.VII Bois de Eere Lt TJ Abernathy, Lt James Healy, Lt AH Jones, Lt CP Porter
10 October 1918 SPAD XIII (S4625) Rumpler C Bantheville Lt James Meissner, Lt GC Waters

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ American Aces of World War I. p. 74. 
  2. ^ Skyways. January 1999.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ His book, entitled "A Dream of Eagles," was published in 1973 and describes how he formed his airline to South America. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (January 1, 1973). ISBN 978-0395166109
  4. ^ Ralph O'Neill in México. Santiago A. Flores (Article in Spanish).

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]