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Floyd Bennett Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103564).

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Bennett, Floyd (25 October 1890–25 April 1928), aviator, was born at Truesdale Hill, Town of Caldwell (now Lake George), New York, the son of Wallace Bennett and Henrietta (maiden name unknown). At age nine he went to live with his uncle and aunt in Warrensburg, New York, where he attended public schools and did farm work. He left school at age seventeen and worked for a year in a lumber camp near Lake George to earn money to attend an automobile school in Schenectady. He then worked at the People’s Garage in Ticonderoga. He eventually became co-owner but later sold his share and moved to Hague, New York, where he was employed as a mechanic in R. F. Bolton’s garage. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 15 December 1917, serving at naval air stations at Bay Shore, New York; Hampton Roads, Virginia; and Pensacola, Florida. In 1918 he married Cora Lillian Orkins of Ticonderoga; they had no children....

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Brown, Jesse Leroy (13 October 1926–04 December 1950), naval aviator, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the son of John Brown, a farmer. His mother’s name is not known. From the time he was a small boy, Brown was interested in flying: at the sight of an airplane flying above, he turned to a friend and said, “Some day I’m going to fly one of those” (Weems, p. 36). He held fast to his dream. He studied hard at the all-black Eureka High School, and his principal, recognizing that the school did not prepare students well for college, taught Brown and other promising students more advanced subjects. He was also an excellent athlete, participating in basketball and track and playing halfback on Eureka’s state championship football team....

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Jesse L. Brown, ca. 1950. In the cockpit of an F4U4 Corsair fighter. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy (USN 1146845).

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Byrd, Richard Evelyn (25 October 1888–11 March 1957), naval aviator and explorer, was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of Richard Evelyn Byrd, an attorney, and Eleanor Bolling Flood. The family had long been prominent in Virginia; Byrd’s brother Harry Flood Byrd served as governor and several terms as a U.S. senator. After traveling alone around the world at the age of twelve, Byrd attended the Shenandoah Valley Military Academy, Virginia Military Institute (1904–1907), the University of Virginia (1907–1908), and the U.S. Naval Academy, receiving his ensign’s commission in 1912....

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Richard E. Byrd Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1928. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G412-BN-5390-001-B-x).

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Rodgers, John (15 January 1881–27 August 1926), naval officer and aviator, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Rear Admiral John Augustus Rodgers and Elizabeth Chambers. The son and grandson of distinguished naval officers, Rodgers attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1899 to 1903 and reached the rank of commander on 4 November 1920. At the time of his death, he was listed for promotion to captain....

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Rosendahl, Charles Emery (15 May 1892–14 May 1977), aviator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Charles Oscar Rosendahl and Hannah Johnson. Rosendahl attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, graduating with a B.S. in engineering in 1914. He followed a fairly routine career in the navy for the next nine years, serving as a line officer on destroyers and cruisers and seeing duty in the European theater during World War I. During 1921–1923 Rosendahl served as an instructor in engineering at the Naval Academy....

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John H. Towers. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Towers, John Henry (30 January 1885–30 April 1955), U.S. Navy officer and aviation pioneer, was born in Rome, Georgia, the son of William Magee Towers and Mary Norton. He received his education at local schools, the Georgia School of Technology (now the Georgia Institute of Technology) in Atlanta, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After graduation from Annapolis he served the customary two years at sea, as a midshipman assigned to the battleship ...