Raoul Lufbery was born on March 21, 1885, in Chamalieres, France. He emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1891, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1907, serving in the Philippines until his discharge in 1909. After leaving the Army, he worked as a mechanic for Marc Pourpe, a French exhibition flyer, and was in France when World War I began. Lufbery joined the French Foreign Legion in August 1914, and transferred to the French Air Service on July 29, 1915, joining the Escadrille Americaine on May 24, 1916. He was credited with the destruction of 16 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before transferring to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a Major on January 10, 1918, having previously been commissioned while serving as commander of the Lafayette Escadrille on November 7, 1917. Maj Lufbery was briefly assigned as commander of the 95th Aero Squadron from January to February 1918, and served as a combat instructor with the 94th Aero Squadron from February 1918 until he was killed in action on May 19, 1918. Although he wasn't officially credited with any air victories while serving with the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps, it is believed he did destroy at least 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. He is also unofficially credited with the destruction of over 25 aircraft that were never credited to him while flying with the French Air Service. He is buried at the Lafayette Memorial du Parc de Garches in Paris, France. Roaul Lufbery was the first American Fighter Ace.
His French Medaille Militaire Citation reads:
A model of skill, sangfroid and courage. He has distinguished himself through the numerous long distance bombardments and by the daily combats which he has with enemy planes. On 31 July 1916, he never hesitated to attack at close range, a group of four enemy planes. He downed one of them near our lines. He succeeded in downing another on 4 August 1916.
His French Legion of Honor Citation reads:
He enlisted under the French colors for the duration of the war. Has given proof as a pursuit pilot of remarkable audacity and has downed up to 27 December 1916, six enemy aircraft. Already cited twice in orders and has the MÃ©daille Militaire.