September 1918. The Western Front
Enter Second Lieutenant. FRANK LUKE JR. A Native of Phoenix Arizona, German-American, athletic, a crack shot and horseman, copper miner, brawler, football star. A true friend and a fearsome enemy. Almost civilized.
In time he would be nicknamed ‘The Arizona Balloon Buster’ by accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat of downing more than fifteen German observation balloons (called ‘Drachen’) and three enemy planes in a flying career the history books call, ‘The September Rampage’. A spree that lasted just seventeen days and culminated in his death while downing three balloons in just 10 minutes. And in true American fashion being under arrest for insubordination at the same time.
On his final mission, gutshot, mortally wounded, his plane damaged, he was forced down behind German lines. And when he had a chance to surrender, the 21-year-old instead turned and took on a company of German infantrymen with only a pistol until he was shot dead. True to himself, even at the end.
Luke Air Force base, Arizona, is named in his honor.