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Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Kiffin Y. Rockwell

 
 
Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2010
1. Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker
On September 23, 1916, during his first mission after returning from leave, Rockwell engaged in a dogfight with a German plane. He was shot in the chest, making him the second American killed in aerial combat. Rockwell was memorialized and honored in numerous ways both in France and the United States. During his graveside service at the base at Luxeuil, French aviator Georges Thenault, commandant of the Layfayette Escadrille said, “His courage was sublime. . . . The best and bravest of us is no longer here.” He was awarded posthumously the Cross of the Legion of Honor. The Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Newport, Tennessee, and in Asheville are named in Kiffin Rockwell’s memory. (N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources)
Inscription. World War I soldier, aviator. First pilot of Escadrille Lafayette to shoot down enemy plane. Killed in action, Sept. 23, 1916. Home 200 yds. W.
 
Erected 1954 by Archives, Conservation and Highway Departments. (Marker Number P-44.)
 
Location. 35° 36.448′ N, 82° 33.235′ W. Marker is in Asheville, North Carolina, in Buncombe County. Marker is at the intersection of Merrimon Avenue (U.S. 25) and Hillside Street, on the right when traveling south on Merrimon Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Asheville NC 28801, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Jeter C. Pritchard (approx. 0.3 miles away); 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery (approx. 0.3 miles away); Locke Craig (approx. 0.4 miles away); Riverside Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); Thomas Wolfe House / Dixieland (approx. 0.7 miles away); Zelda Fitzgerald (approx. ¾ mile away); The University of North Carolina at Asheville (approx. ¾ mile away); Buncombe Turnpike (approx. ¾ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Asheville.
 
Regarding Kiffin Y. Rockwell. Aviator Kiffin Rockwell was among four North Carolinians who flew for France in World War I.
Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker, looking north along Merrimon Avenue (US25) image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, May 22, 2010
2. Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker, looking north along Merrimon Avenue (US25)
The others were James Baugham of Washington, Arthur Bluethenthal of Wilmington, and James McConnell of Carthage. Owing to the dedication of his brother, Colonel Paul Rockwell of Asheville, to his memory, Kiffin Rockwell’s story is the best known.

Rockwell was born to James Chester and Loula Ayres Rockwell in Newport, Tennessee, on September 20, 1892. His family, with the exception of his father who had died when he was one year old, moved to Asheville when Kiffin was fourteen. After spending summers with his grandfather, a Civil War veteran, he developed a strong interest in the army and in 1908 enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute. The next year Rockwell received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, but declined it because he believed he would not see wartime service serving in the Navy. Rockwell transferred to Washington and Lee University where graduated with a degree in journalism. After graduation he spent some time traveling out west and settled in Atlanta, where he got a job with an advertising agency. He was there in August 1914 when Germany declared war on France.

On August 7, three days after war had broken out and President Woodrow Wilson had issued a neutrality proclamation for the United States, Kiffin and his brother Paul sailed for France and volunteered for the French army. As members of the French Foreign Legion, both men were
Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker, Newport, Tennessee image. Click for full size.
VMI Archives photo
3. Kiffin Y. Rockwell Marker, Newport, Tennessee
* see related markers
severely wounded. After recovering from the thigh injury that ended his infantry service, Kiffin Rockwell became one of the first Americans to join the newly formed Lafayette Escadrille, an American volunteer aerial combat squadron. Twenty-eight days after he joined the squadron and with only brief training and no previous aviation experience, on May 18, 1916, Rockwell became the first American to shoot down an enemy plane. For the next four months he participated in every mission his squadron was assigned and shot down a second plane.

On September 23, 1916, during his first mission after returning from leave, Rockwell engaged in a dogfight with a German plane. He was shot in the chest, making him the second American killed in aerial combat. Rockwell was memorialized and honored in numerous ways both in France and the United States. During his graveside service at the base at Luxeuil, French aviator Georges Thenault, commandant of the Layfayette Escadrille said, “His courage was sublime. . . . The best and bravest of us is no longer here.” He was awarded posthumously the Cross of the Legion of Honor. The Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Newport, Tennessee, and in Asheville are named in Kiffin Rockwell’s memory. (North Carolina Office of Archives and History)
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. in
Kiffin Y. Rockwell in Paris, September 1916. image. Click for full size.
VMI Archives photo, circa 1916
4. Kiffin Y. Rockwell in Paris, September 1916.
Newport, Tennessee
 
Also see . . .  V.M.I. Archives. Kiffin Yates Rockwell was born in 1892 in Newport, Tennessee. After completing his preparatory schooling at the Orange Street School in Asheville, he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute in 1908 (Submitted on May 31, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 
 
Categories. MilitaryNotable PersonsWar, World I
 
Kiffin Y. Rockwell , Original Escadrille Americaine, circa May 1916 image. Click for full size.
VMI Archives photo, circa 1916
5. Kiffin Y. Rockwell , Original Escadrille Americaine, circa May 1916
The Lafayette Escadrille (from the French Escadrille de Lafayette), was a squadron of the French Air Service, the Aéronautique militaire, during World War I composed largely of American volunteer pilots flying fighters.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 31, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 824 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 31, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.
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