'Ace of Aces' legacy celebrated by Columbus community

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley Williams
  • 121st Air Refueling Wing
Airmen with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, along with members of the Rickenbacker-Woods Foundation, joined together to celebrate the 125th birthday of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Oct. 8, 2015.

Rickenbacker, born in Columbus, Ohio in 1890, was a well-known race car driver, racing in the Indianapolis 500 three times, before joining the Army in 1917.

Starting out as a driver for the general staff, Rickenbacker met Col. Billy Mitchell, who would later help the 27-year-old get involved with the newly formed aviation service.

Soon after earning his wings, Rickenbacker became known as the "Ace of Aces" for his 26 confirmed aerial victories during World War I.

Rickenbacker held the American record until World War II.

After passing away in 1973, Rickenbacker was laid to rest in Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.

Lockbourne Air Force Base, in his hometown of Columbus, was renamed in 1974 as Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base and shares an airfield with Rickenbacker International Airport.

In remembrance of Rickenbacker, The Franklin County Board of Commissioners has officially recognized October 8 as Captain Eddie Rickenbacker Day in the City of Columbus.

"It is a great honor to celebrate the legacy of Columbus' own World War I 'Ace of Aces' while bringing focus to a site with state and national historic importance," said Lucy Wolfe, board chair.

Airmen with the 121st ARW honored Rickenbacker with a wreath-laying during a graveside ceremony.

"I am grateful to preserve his heritage through the ceremony that we performed," said Airman 1st Class Brayden Pratt, with the 121st ARW. "It's humbling to be a part of this military tradition that commemorates the legacy and pays respect to Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker."

Accompanying the 121st ARW, were members of the Columbus Downtown High School Jr. ROTC Color Guard who posted the colors during the ceremony.

A groundbreaking event was also held later that evening at Rickenbacker's boyhood home on Livingston Ave.