November 27, 1895 - November 5, 1918
Karl West was from Danville, the son of Mr. And Mrs. I. D. West, but beginning in the fall of 1904 at the age of 8 he attended the model school at the Bloomsburg State Normal School, which was a campus elementary school for training student teachers. He went to the model school for five years, finishing in the spring of 1909.
In August of 1917 he went to France to begin flying school, and was commissioned a first lieutenant as a pilot in 20th Aero Squadron, 1st Day Bombardment Group. By the last full month of the war he was an experienced pilot, and in October 1918 participated in every raid made by the squadron in the Argonne-Meuse sector, earning him a citation for exceptional devotion to duty. West was also commended for having shot down a German Fokker plane on October 23. The war was almost over, but he would not live to see it end.
On November 5, six days before the armistice took effect, a group of eight planes, including Lt. West's, was sent on a bombing raid far behind enemy lines. Before reaching the objective they were attacked by fourteen German planes, but were able to continue on to drop their bombs on the town of Monzin. At this point six more Germans attacked, and West's plane was seen spiraling down. It was thought the motor had been hit, causing it to stall. The enemy continued to fire at the plane as it fell, but before it had begun its fall West shot down at least one of the Germans. The plane carrying Lt. West was last seen bursting into flames after crashing.
A hero had died, and as Karl West's good friend Lt. Lewis H. Turnbull wrote in tribute:
"I cannot speak too highly of Karl's work at the Front. He was a brave and courageous officer and a credit to his Organization. Karl was always eager to go on all bombing missions and was an exceptionally good flyer. His loss was deeply felt by the entire squadron. In his last combat Karl bore himself with his accustomed bravery, and he went down only because of the overwhelming odds against him. He died a noble death for his country."
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