North High School Wall of Honor
MG Jacob Earl Fickel (USAF, ret.)
Class of 1899
Spanish American War, WWI, WWII
Years of Service: 1904-1946
Research done by Claradell Shedd, class of 1953.
Jacob Earl Fickel
Fickel was a former enlisted soldier who was awarded a commission in 1907. He was assigned to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps during the First World War but did not qualify as an aviator until the war was over. He attended the Command and General Staff School and Army War College between the wars and eventually rose to command 4 Air Force when war broke out in the Pacific. He spent the remainder of the war in technical training commands. In July, 1909, while in Des Moines, he lived at 1810 9th Street. His parents were Joel and Margaret Fickel. He married Marion Allison.
Fickel, Jacob Earl (1883-1956)
Year   Rank   Status
1883   x   born: January 31, 1883;
Des Moines, IA
1904 x Enlisted/
Regular Army/PVT
x Enlisted in the Regular Army. He enlisted in the Regular Army in 1904 and served as a private, corporal, sergeant, and first sergeant of Company K, 27th Infantry, until February 1907, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in Infantry.
1907 x 2nd Lieutenant x Commissioned in the Infantry. Assigned to 29th Regiment at Fort Douglas. In August, went to Philippine Islands and served at Fort William McKinley.
1909-1911 x Assigned x 29th Infantry, Fort Jay, NY
1910 x 1st Lieutenant x Armament Experiment. Another photo shows Charles Foster Willard at the controls of a Curtiss aircraft and Jacob Earl Ficel sitting beside him holding a .30-caliber Springfield rifle at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet which was held in Atlantic, MA from September 3-13, 1910 and sponsored by the harvard Aeronautical Society. From this experiment, Jacob Fickel is credited with firing the first shot from an airplane (and thus introducing armaments to all aircraft).
1911 x 1st Lieutenant x *13th Infantry Regiment
1912 x Family x About 1912: Married Marion Allison
June 23, 1913 x Family x Son, Arthur Allison Fickel, born in New York, New York; Graduated, 1935 West Point; COL, US Army; Died: December 31, 1993, Fort Belvoir, Fairfax, VA 22060
1913 x Stationed x To Philippine Islands, Fort William McKinley and at Camp McGrath until March 1917.
1916 x Captain x x
Nov, 1917
x Stationed x Instructor, Officers Training Camp, Fort Benjamin Harrison.
Nov, 1917-
May, 1918
x Stationed x Washington, D.C.; Headquarters, Aviation Section of the Signal Corps.
December 30, 1917 x Family x Son, Stanton Livingston Fickel, born in District of Columbia; COL, US Army; Died: August 30, 2003, San Antonio, Bexar, TX
May, 1918-
Nov, 1918
x Training/Education x Flight Training; Rockwell Field, CA
Nov, 1918-
x Stationed x Commander, Carruthers Field, Texas
x Stationed x Washington, D.C.: Staff, Chief of Air Service
1920 x Major x In 1920 Census, lived in Washington, D.C.
x Stationed x **Spruce Production Company, Portland
1922 x Stationed x Chief, Supply Division, Air Service
June, 1925 x Education x Graduated from Air Corps Technical School, Langley Field, VA
June, 1926 x Training/Education x Graduates from Command and General Staff School; Fort Leavenworth, KS, (with honors)
June, 1926-
April, 1927
x Stationed x Executive Officer, Materiel Division, McCook Field
April, 1927-
July, 1927
x Training/Education x Air Corps Advanced Flying School; Kelly Field, TX
July, 1927-
July, 1930
x Stationed x Executive Officer, Materiel Division, McCook Field
1930 x Lt. Colonel x In 1930 Census, lived in Van Buren, Montgomery, Ohio, USA
June, 1931 x Training/Education x Graduates from Army War College
December 14, 1931 x Enroute x Departed from Cristobal, Canal Zone, Panama arriving on December 14, 1931 in New York, New York onboard the Ancon
June, 1931-
x Stationed x Chief, Buildings and Grounds Division
Office of the Chief of the Air Corps
x Colonel x Commandant, Air Corps Advanced Flying School and Commanding Officer of Kelly Field, Texas
March, 1939
x Stationed x Air Officer on Staff, IX Corps Area; Presidio, San Francisco, CA
1938 x Stationed x Director of Aircraft Production
1939 x Brigadier General x Commanding General, 1st Wing, General Headquarters Air Force, March Field, California
1940 x Stationed x Assistant to the Chief of the Air Corps
1940 x Major General x Commanding General, Southwest Air District, March Field; Riverside, California
Dec. 18,1940-April 2,1942 x Major General x Commanding General of the Fourth Air Force, Riverside, CA; from 07/12/41, Hamilton Field, CA; from 05/01/42, San Francisco, California. General Fickel was in command of the Fourth Air Force when war broke out in the Pacific.
March 5,1942-
x Stationed x Commanding General of the 3rd District, U.S. Army Air Forces Technical Training Command, Tulsa, Oklahoma
1943-45 x Stationed x Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Forces Eastern Technical Training Command, Greensboro, North Carolina
1945-46 x Stationed x Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces Western Technical Training Command, Denver, Colorado
1946 x Retired x Retired (disability in the line of duty)
August 7, 1956 x Deceased x Died while visiting his son in Wiesbaden, Germany. Buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Bexar, TX; Plot: Section B Site 223A
*13th Infantry Regiment
From 1867-71 the regiment fought in the Indian Wars in Montana and North Dakota. In June 1898 the regiment was sent to Cuba and led the 1st Infantry's attack on San Juan Hill, capturing the Spanish flag. In 1897 the 13th US Infantry had been filmed at Fort Jay on Governors Island, New York where they were posted in the years before World War I. The regiment saw combat in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, and was assigned to the 8th Infantry Division in June 1918. As a member of this organization, the regiment did not participate in WWI.

**Spruce Production Company, Portland
Though located some distance inland, Portland (122.717W 45.563N) was a major port because it was readily accessible to oceangoing vessels via the Columbia River. Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation produced tankers at Swan Island Shipyard with 8 ways, and additional major shipyards were under construction in nearby Vancouver in 1941 under a contract between the Maritime Commission and Kaiser Shipbuilding. At the time war broke out, the city was garrisoned by 29 Engineer Regiment.

Pendleton Field, a major military airfield, was located nearby (122.595W 45.575N). 64 Transport Wing had its headquarters here, and the field based 25 C-47s of 16 Transport Squadron, 52 B-25s of 17 Medium Bomber Group, and 75 P-40s of 55 Interceptor Group.
Major General Jacob Earl Fickel (31 January 1883 – 7 August 1956) had a prominent career in the United States Air Force usually associated with being an instructor of aviation.

Fickel is credited with firing the first recorded gunshot ever from an airplane on August 20th, 1910. From his passenger seat he fired a rifle twice at a target from an altitude of 100 feet with Glenn H. Curtiss flying the airplane. It was done at Sheepshead Bay Race Track near New York City. He is crediting with proving that a gun could be fired from an airplane without the plane breaking up into pieces due to the gun’s recoil.

Fickel became the first aerial gunner in America. These experiments led to low recoil machine guns. Soon thereafter machine guns were added to planes for air-to-ground attack or air-to-air fighting. The first airplane machine guns were patented by Samuel Neal McClean. He sold his rights to the Automatic Arms Company in late 1910. Issac N. Lewis working for the company later improved the technology on this airplane machine gun system.

The first use of an airplane machine gun in combat was in August 1914 with the first recorded airplane shot down in air-to-air fighting in October of that year. By 1915 air combat was an integral part of World War I fighting.

Biography from U.S. Air Force files:
Retired Sep. 1, 1946. Died.

General Fickel was born in Des Moines, IA, on Jan. 31, 1883. He enlisted in the Regular Army in 1904 and served as a private, corporal, sergeant, and first sergeant of Company K, 27th Infantry, until February 1907, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry.

During his three years of enlisted service, General Fickel was stationed at Columbus Barracks, OH; Fort Sheridan, IL.; and Fort Leavenworth, KS. Shortly after receiving his commission, he joined the 29th Infantry at Fort Douglas, UT, and in August 1907 sailed with that regiment for the Philippine Islands. He served at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines until the summer of 1909 when he returned to the United States for station at Fort Jay, NY., with the 29th Infantry until January 1912, and at Fort Niagara, NY., until November 1913.

General Fickel then sailed for a second tour of duty in the Philippine Islands with the 13th Infantry, serving at Fort William McKinley and Camp McGrath until March 1917. Returning to the United States, he was assigned to duty as an instructor at the Officers Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN., where he remained until November 1917 when he was ordered to Washington, D.C., for duty with the Headquarters of the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. He served in that capacity until May 1918 when he was ordered to Rockwell Field, CA., as a student officer at the flying school. Upon completion of his course in November 1918, he assumed command of Carruthers Field, TX, where he remained until January 1919.

General Fickel was then ordered back to Washington, D.C., where he served in the Office of the Chief of Air Service until March 1921. His next duty was with the U.S. Spruce Production Corporation at Portland, Ore., where he served until the summer of 1922, returning to Washington for a two-year tour of duty as Chief of the Supply Division of the Air Service. In June 1925, he graduated from the Air Corps Technical School at Langley Field, Va., and in June 1926 from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

He next served as Executive of the Materiel Division at McCook Field, OH, until April 1927, after which he attended the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX, for three months. He then returned to McCook Field where he reassumed the duties of Executive Officer, Materiel Division, for a period of three years.

He then attended the Army War College, Washington, D.C., from which he graduated in June 1931. His next assignment was duty as Chief of the Buildings and Grounds Division in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, Washington, D.C., in which capacity he served until January 1935.

From February 1935 to June 1936, General Fickel was Commandant of the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX. He was then ordered to duty as Air Officer of the Ninth Corps Area, with Headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA., in which capacity he served until March 1939. He was then assigned to command the 1st Wing of the General Headquarters Air Force at March Field, Calif., with the temporary rank of brigadier general.

In February 1940, he was appointed Assistant Chief of Air Corps in Washington, D.C., and was later assigned to Riverside, CA., on Oct. 12, 1940, as Air District Commander, transferring as Commanding General of District No. 3 Technical Training Command, OK, on March 5, 1942.

First lieutenant, 1911; captain, 1916; major (temporary), 1917; lieutenant colonel (temporary), 1918. He reverted to his permanent Regular Army rank of captain on April 15, 1920; major, July 1, 1920; lieutenant colonel, 1930; colonel, 1935; brigadier general (temporary), March 1939; major general (temporary), Oct. 1, 1940.
(Current as of March 7, 1942)

In NY Times:
Maj. Gen Jacob Earl Fickel Dies at 73; Proved Shooting From Plane Feasible Published: August 10, 1956, Friday Page 17, 255 words WIESBADEN, Germany, Aug. 9 (AP)--Maj. Gen. Jacob Earl Fickel of the Air Force, retired, died of a heart attack Tuesday while visiting a son here, European headquarters of the Air Force announced today. His age was 73.

Wikipedia sheet on MG Jacob Earl Fickel:

The photograph is of Glenn Hammond Curtiss and Lieutenant Jacob Earl Fickel at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet held in Atlantic, MA from September 3-13, 1910 and sponsored by the Harvard Aeronautical Society.
August 20, 1910 with pilot Glenn Hammond Curtiss; (.30-caliber Springfield Rifle)
Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
The photograph is of Charles Foster Willard and Lieutenant Jacob Earl Fickel at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet held in Atlantic, MA from September 3-13, 1910 and sponsored by the Harvard Aeronautical Society.
Charles Foster Willard and Lt. Jacob Earl Fickel Fort Sam Houston Nat'l Cemetery
Some Duty Station Assignments
Fort Benjamin Harrison Carruthers Field Langley Field, VA
Warren AFB, Cheyenne,WY
Kelly Field, TX March Field, CA Hamilton AFB, CA
Jacob Earl Fickel
Major General
United States Army Air Corps
US Army Seal

29th Infantry Regiment

13th Infantry Regiment
Command Pilot Wings

Jacob Earl Fickel

Command and General Staff College

4th Air Force

Major General

National Defense
; Navy Occupation Medal
Good Conduct Med
The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Jacob Earl Fickel's 1899 class page is:
Wikipedia entry for Jacob Earl Fickel:
Died: August 7, 1956; Wiesbaden, Germany
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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