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CSAF receives prestigious French Air and Space Force award

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. accepts a pin from the French Air and Space Force’s Fighter Squadron 2/4 Lafayette. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. accepts a pin from the French Air and Space Force’s Fighter Squadron 2/4 Lafayette. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. was ceremoniously conferred a pin from the French Air and Space Force’s Fighter Squadron 2/4 Lafayette.

Brown now joins the ranks of the only two other Americans who have received this distinguished gift – President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart.

On April 18, 1916, the American Escadrille N124, later called the Lafayette Escadrille, was manned with 38 U.S. volunteers under the command of French air force Captain Georges Thénault. The group, mostly filled with American aviators, fought for the French during World War I.

“The pin the escadrille presented to me is part of a 105-year, proud tradition, and this honor represents a strong bond between our two nations,” Brown said.

The recognition from France, a strategic and critical partner in the European theater, honors the incredible individual achievements and contributions Brown has made to advancements in aviation.

Brown was also presented with a painting of Eugene Bullard, by Béatrice Roche Gardies, an award-winning French artist.

When WWI started in 1914, Eugene Jacques Bullard, an American living in Paris, enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and rose to the rank of corporal. In August of 1917, Bullard became the first African American military pilot to fly in combat. He was one of only a few African American pilots who fought in World War I.

For his bravery, Bullard received the Croix de Guerre and other decorations.

After the war, Bullard remained in France as an expatriate. When the Germans invaded France in May 1940, the 46-year-old Bullard rejoined the French army. On Sept. 14, 1994, the secretary of the Air Force posthumously appointed him a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

“I’m humbled to receive these honors,” Brown said. “Heroes like Eugene Bullard made incredible advancements to aviation and paved the way for so many."

The painting of Bullard will be displayed in the Pentagon, as part of the Department of the Air Force Art Collection, for the next three years.

More information about Bullard, is available here and here.