Anyone in search of a definition for a "warrior- can do it with one word, Rickenbacker. Captain Eddie Rickenbacker became the American ace of aces during World War I by having more victories than any American pilot of that war or any other. By the end of the war in 1918, Rickenbacker had destroyed twenty-two airplanes and four balloons, bringing his total to twenty-six. The next highest American pilot had a total of eighteen, with fourteen of the kills being balloons. Rickenbacker by nature demonstrated rare leadership, courage, and skill as a pilot, all of which proved to be valuable attributes, both as a solider and later as the commander of the 94th Aero Squadron.
Eddie Rickenbacker, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 8, 1890, the son of Swiss immigrants William and Elizabeth Reichenbacher. At a very young age, some claiming twelve while others said he was fourteen, Rickenbacker's father was murdered and Eddie dropped out of school and worked at various jobs to help support the family. "While still in his teens he took a position with the Frayer-Miller Air-Cooled Car Company, a move which proved to be a turning point in his life- (Hudson 72). In his spare time he would take correspondence courses in mechanical engineering and draftsmanship. In 1910, Rickenbacker became a professional racecar driver and by 1917 he was one of the top drivers in the world earning upwards of $40,000 a year. The tools he learned as a racecardriver and his natural talent to control his car at high speeds will come in handy when he becomes a fighter pilot.
When the United States entered the war in 1917, Rickenbacker was in England organizing a racing team for the Sunbeam Motor Company. When he came back to the States, he went to Washington and proposed creating an air squadron made up solely of racecar drivers. "He reasoned that their quick reflexes, their knowledge of engines, and their familiarity with high speeds would qualify them as excellent battle pilots- (Normau 504).