Movie pays homage to American veterans

Published 4:18 pm Friday, November 11, 2016

“James Baugham and his friends are not, and never will be, forgotten,” said Marie-Claire Riebill, an honorary consul of France, during a Veterans Day screening of “Lafayette Escadrille” at the Turnage Theatre on Friday.

Riebill, in brief remarks before the film was shown, talked about how James Henry Baugham, a Washington resident, fought for France as a member of the famed Lafayette Escadrille during World War I. She told how Baugham, a student at North Carolina State University, saw an advertisement in a Raleigh newspaper. France advertised in the United States of America for men to come fight for it. Baugham and 200 other men answered the advertisement and headed to France to fight.

“I happen to work on the campus of North Carolina State University for a French business school. … When I was researching James Baugham, I was stunned to discover that he was a freshman at North Carolina State University. He was at the college of agriculture and engineering,” Riebill said. “Would you believe it, my office has an office that looks at the engineering college. … Here I was looking for a link, and we both were at the same university.”

Riebill noted that Baugham was 17 at the time, too young to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. When he saw the advertisement in the newspaper, he made the decision to go to France at fight for the French, she said.

Riebill suggested an effort be started to raise money to erect a memorial to the Americans who fought for France during World War I at the Mall in Washington, D.C. “So, maybe we should have a fundraiser,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Riebill said she attended a wreath-laying ceremony a the bell tower at the NCSU campus at 6:30 a.m. Friday, when French students showed their appreciation for the sacrifices Americans made while fighting for France.

Riebill told the audience that “turnage” in French means filming.

Blount Rumley, a Navy veteran and relative of Baugham, noted that Baugham, James R. McConnell, Kiffin Yates Rockwell and Arthur Blumenthall — the only North Carolinians to fly for the French against Germany — all died during the war.

After quitting college, Baugham attended the civilian Curtiss Aviation School at Newport News, Virginia, where he earned a flying license. In France, Baugham was credited with shooting down four German planes. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire. During one flight, he was shot down, landed between French and German forces and escaped to the French side in a storm of bullets.

Baugham died July 2, 1917, after his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, shrapnel wounded him and his plane crashed the day before, a year after he arrived in France.

“Lafayette Escadrille” made its world premiere at the Turnage Theatre in 1958. A memorial to Baugham is erected at Oakdale Cemetery.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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