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RICKENBACKER, Eddie (1890-1973)

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RICKENBACKER, Eddie, full name Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (1890-1973) , American aviator, born in Columbus, Ohio. Before 1917 he was an automobile racer, winning many championships. During World War I he served in the U.S. Air Service in France as commanding officer of the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron; he shot down 22 planes and 4 observation balloons, becoming the leading American combat pilot. Rickenbacker received the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and other decorations. Following his military career he was associated with several automotive and aviation companies. He became (1938) president of Eastern Air Lines and served (1954-63) as board chairman of the company. He wrote Fighting the Flying Circus (1919); Seven Came Through (1943), about his 3-week ordeal on a life raft in World War II; and Rickenbacker: An Autobiography (1967).

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