My correspondent was correct...
Received the following response back to my request for a reference...
I have a book 'Marine Corps Aviation: The early Years 1912-1940 by Lt.Col. Edward C. Johnson, USMC and published by the History & Museums Division, HQMC 1977--Reprinted 1991. )on page 20 Paragraph 2 it states...
'During 1918, the authorized strength of Marine aviation was set at 1500 officers and 6000 men. To reach this number of personnel, Marine aviation, besides recruiting more officer pilots, began training enlisted aviators.
The first class of 25 candidates entered this program on 10 July 1918. These Marines, who had to meet special educational and physical qualifications, received the temporary rank of gunnery sergeant.
Candidates who successfully completed flying school received commissions as second lieutenants in the Marine Reserve Flying Corps.'
Ref: Major General Comandant, Annual Report
Also the following from...
"TRAINING OF OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN.
During the war the Marine Corps selected and trained its own flyers and mechanics, and had its own aviation field and equipment. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass., enlisted Marines selected as promising flying material and given the rank of gunnery sergeant, took a 10 weeks' course in groundwork, and about 80 men a month were graduated.
After ground graduation they did their actual flying at the Marine flying field, Miami, Fla. This course embraced preliminary, acrobatic, and formation flying, bombing, gunnery, and reconnaissance work, including photographing. Upon qualifying they were commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps Reserve Flying Corps.
Marine flying candidates were all enlisted Marines, of superior physique, weighing from 135 to 165 pounds, and with at least two years' college or university study to their credit. The age limits were 19 to 39 years. Marine Corps mechanics, riggers, and armorers were trained at the Marine Corps section of the naval school for mechanics, Great Lakes Training Station, Chicago, Ill., the course covering eight weeks, and at a similar school in aviation mechanics at San Diego, Calif.
In December, 1917, 2 Marine officers and 10 enlisted men were sent to the Army balloon school at St., Louis, Mo., and later to Omaha, Nebr., for training."
And, from Robert Sherrod's History of Marine Corps Aviation in WW II, Combat Forces Press, 1952, PG 10...
"In the summer of 1918 the Marines began drawing their flying students from the school the Navy had set up in April at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Promising volunteers were sent there and given the rank of chief petty officer or gunnery sergeant during their preliminary training."
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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