Banking gently, the DH-4 braved a burst of German gunfire and rushed low over the Argonne Forest. The observer began dropping packages. Somewhere below, surrounded by the enemy, lay the injured and dying men of Americas lost battalion. It was October 6, 1918--date of the first aerial re-supply drop in combat history. The next day, an air drop team spotted the battalion's exact position and the survivors were rescued.
The Lost Battalion was the name given to the approximately 554 men of the 306th, 307th, and 308th infantry companies that were isolated by German Forces during the American attack on the Argonne forest in 1918. Of the 554 men isolated, roughly 197 were killed, 150 were captured or missing, and only 194 were rescued. They launched an attack on a key German defensive point believing that French and American forces were supporting their flanks but became isolated and surrounded by Germans. Attempts to resupply the battalion by airdrop failed, with all supplies either off-target or falling into German hands. Valiant efforts were made to supply and rescue these men, and one such effort is pictured here. The DH-4 aircraft pictured braved German fire to complete the first aerial resupply drop in combat history on October 6th, 1918 in an attempt to supply the Lost Battalion somewhere below. The mission was flown by 1st Lt Harold Goettler and 2nd Lt Erwin Bleckley of the 50th Aero Squadron, who were shot down. Both posthumously received the Medal of Honor. While the supplies did not reach the men of the Lost Battalion below, an air drop team spotted the battalion’s position the next day, and the men were rescued.