Charles D’Olive: Ten Fun Facts


  1. He was the last WWI aviator to be declared an ace in 1963, his final victory being credited to him following a records correction.
  2. He entered the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps in 1917 as a private, quickly becoming a sergeant when ground school began. There were no barracks and no uniforms. 4th School Squadron Cadets received pay of $100 per month to finance boarding in Memphis, Tennessee where they used the bowl of the half-mile racetrack at the fairgrounds as a landing field. The Squadron had a total of three Jennies at the time, which were disassembled and transported by freight train to Ashburn Field, Chicago when the squadron was relocated. Cadets commissioned as lieutenants the day they soloed.                                           
  3. He was roommates with Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s youngest son, while the two attended gunnery school together in Arcachon.
  4. He was both the first in the 93rd Aero Squadron to score a victory on 12 September 1918, shooting down a Fokker D.VII near Vieville-en-Haye. The 93rd continues its legacy today as the 93rd Bomb Squadron, part of Air Force Reserve Command operating out of Louisiana.
  5. On 18 October 1918, the day he scored his fifth and final victory shooting down a German plane, he himself was also shot down.
  6. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross “for extraordinary heroism in action near St. Benoit, France, September 13, 1918, First Lieutenant D’Olive, in conjunction with another American pilot, engaged and fought five enemy planes. Outnumbered and fighting against tremendous odds, he shot down three enemy planes and outfought the entire enemy formation.”
  7. He joined the Daedalians in 1964, after being introduced to the organization by Howard Johnson at a formal dining out given by the 170th Fighter Group of the Montana Air National Guard. He had been invited to address a group of Montana’s surviving WWI pilots being honored at the event. Eddie Rickenbacker, fellow ace and good friend, was one of his references.
  8. Following the war, he became a business executive in Iowa. He remained active in several WWI aviation organizations and encouraged and mentored a number of young pilots throughout his life.
  9. The Air Force Reserve Command Historian Office commissioned a painting in 2016 of his September 1918 three-victory flight. It was unveiled at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on 1 October 2016.
  10. His definition of a hero, shared at a Daedalian event in 1971 was “dumb enough to get in a jam, lucky enough to shoot himself out while someone was watching.”