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Nebraska Department of Aeronautics
Mr. Ronnie Mitchell, Director

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Orville A. Ralston, an Ainsworth, Nebraska dentist and aviation promoter, was Nebraska’s only World War I ACE, one of the “War Birds.” One of the first American Contingent with the Royal Flying Corps, Ralston was later named “C” Flight Commander with the Seventeenth Aero Squadron, U.S. Aero Service. From December 19,1917 to March 3,1919, he scored  numerous victories flying Viper SE5-type aircraft, as well as “Sopwith Camels.” He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, our Nation’s highest award for courage and valor in combat, and two golden service chevrons.

Ralston lived in Ainsworth from 1920-36, serving as City Councilman and Mayor, chairing the committee that established the first   Ainsworth Municipal Airport. He served in the Air Services Reserve Corps, participated in “Air Circus” and brought Air Shows to the community. As World War II began, he volunteered for service and was appointed to the rank of Major in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was killed in a plane crash in 1942, as a passenger on a B-17 training mission.

 

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