The Dazzling American Birdman

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The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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The Dazzling American Birdman

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | November 10, 2017

First Lieutenant Walter A. Jones was a pilot in the 17th Aero Squadron. He died in plane a accident at Fort Worth, TX on this day in 1917. Jones' Gold Star Roll file includes extensive documentation of his life, including two photographs, a copy of an article that was found in his pocket titled "American Birdman Dazzles Camp Bowie," and a transcribed copy of a Minnesota Daily article in response to his death.

The Daily article describes him as "one of the best liked fellows of school," and reports that he is the first University of Minnesota student to die in the war. The article expresses sorrow, shock, and patriotism in response to his loss. It also reports that he was a member of the Garrick Club (a drama group), treasurer of Tau Shonka (an interfraternity service society), in a sophomore vaudeville and the Jazz band, and a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Elsewhere in his file his father also reports that Jones was involved in golf, basketball, and tennis and played the violin, mandolin-guitar, and sang.


Goldstar Roll

Citation: "Jones, Walter A." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.4F