Mr. Speaker, as we remember the 100th anniversary of the great World War I, it is vital to honor American pilots who fought for freedom in Europe before the United States officially entered the war.
Under the French Air Service, the Lafayette Escadrille was formed. It was an all-American, all-volunteer squadron.
In 1916, 224 Americans formed the unit. They wore French uniforms, and assembled on their biplanes was a courageous Native American chief.
Being a pilot in World War I was deadly dangerous. The life expectancy of an Allied pilot was 11 days. Daily combat operations saw casualty rates of 400 percent. Fifty-one Americans were killed in combat, and the Americans downed 199 enemy planes. They flew in all the major battles over the Western Front's bloody trenches of no man's land.
In 1918, when the United States entered the war, these men of the Lafayette Escadrille were incorporated into the United States Air Service. These young flyboys of World War I were some of America's best. They went over there and flew the skies fighting for freedom, proudly proclaiming, ``Lafayette, we are here.''
And that is just the way it is.