Americans and 303 - Kosciuszko Squ

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Jan 29, 2005
Monroe, New York USA
American connection of 303 - Kosciuszko Squadron ?
A very strong one. The squadron was actually founded by Americans twenty years before World War II began. In 1919, as Poland was fighting a nasty little war with the newly created Soviet Union, a former U.S. Army pilot named Merian Cooper, who had flown in World War I, recruited several other American pilots --Elliott Chess, Carl Clark, Edward Corsi, George Crawford, Cedric Fauntleroy, Edmund Graves, Arthur Kelly, Edwin Noble, Harmon Rorison and Kenneth Shrewsbury---and traveled with them to Poland. There, they formed the squadron, which they named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish hero of the American Revolution who later led an unsuccessful rebellion to free Poland from Tsarist Russia. The Americans even designed a squadron insignia, featuring 13 stars and stripes in honor of the 13 original American states. When the Red Army invaded Poland in 1920, the American fliers helped drive them back. The war ended soon thereafter, and the Americans returned home, but the Kosciuszko Squadron, now made up entirely of Poles, became a permanent part of the Polish Air Force.To honor three American pilots who perished during the Russo- Polish War, the Poles erected a monument in Lwow with an inscription that read: "They died so that we can live free."

After Germany defeated Poland at the outset of World War II, most of the men in the squadron made their way to England and were assigned to a new squadron, which the RAF designated as "303," but which the Poles continued to call the Kosciuszko Squadron. They painted the squadron's insignia, with its stars and stripes, on all their planes.
Merian Cooper, meanwhile, went to Hollywood and became a well-known movie director and producer. He was responsible for making King Kong and later was head of production at RKO Studios. Then he formed a partnership with John Ford and produced some of Ford's most famous movies, including The Quiet Man and The Searchers. When the U.S. got into World War II, Cooper went back into the U.S. Army Air Corps and eventually became deputy chief of staff for all air units in the Pacific. But the achievement he was proudest of, to the end of his days, was the founding of the Kosciuszko Squadron.


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Those were true heroes...People who not only fight for their own country but extend their ideals and try to protect other threatened cultures are indeed meant to be remembered.

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