Arthur Bluethenthal Grave, Wilmington
The Arthur Bluethenthal grave marker is a block of granite on a single, rounded edge, base. The entire front face is covered with a bronze tablet of which the most prominent feature is the squadron insignia for the Lafayette Escadrille above a short inscription about his service in France during World War I. The insignia is in relief and pictures a left-facing Native American in full-feathered headdress with a swastika on the headband. Of note is that Bluethenthal was not a member of the Lafayette Escadrille which was a fighter plane unit comprised almost entirely of American volunteers. As the inscription correctly notes he was a member of the Lafayette Flying Corps, a designation applied to any American flying with the Lafayette Escadrille or individually in a regular French squadron as was the case with Bluethenthal. News stories of the time tended to report all American flyers as being members of the Lafayette Escadrille.
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ARTHUR BLUETHENTHAL / SERGEANT LAFAYETTE FLYING CORPS / BORN AT WILMINGTON, N.C. NOVEMBER 1, 1891 / KILLED IN AERIAL COMBAT, AT COIVREL, FRANCE, / JUNE 5, 1918.
March 17, 1921
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Belton, Tom. 2003. “The Two World Wars,” NCPedia.org, (accessed August 2, 2017) Link
Parramore, Thomas C. “Gory Glory Hallelujah: The Lafayette Flying Corps,” First to Fly: North Carolina and the Beginnings of Aviation, (UNC Press Books: Chapel Hill, 2003) Link
Seymour, James William Davenport., ed. “Arthur Bluethenthal,” Memorial Volume of the American Field Service In France, “Friends of France,” 1914-1917 (American Field Service, 1921) Link
“Arthur Bluethenthal,” Find A Grave.com, (accessed July 26, 2017) Link
“Bluethenthal, Arthur “Blue”,” Jews in Sports, (accessed July 26, 2017) Link
“Croix De Guerre.,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), March 17, 1917
“Funeral Yesterday of Arthur Bluethenthal,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), March 18, 1921
“Lafayette Flying Corps,” The-Wandering.com, (accessed August 2, 2017) Link
“To Join Aviation Corps.,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), June 17, 1917
“Wilmington Mourns Her First to Fall,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), June 17, 1917
Funeral services were held at the home of Arthur Bluethenthal’s parents prior to internment.
In 1916, prior to United States involvement in World War I, Blumenthal volunteered for the American Ambulance Field Service in France. For his bravery retrieving French wounded during the battle of Verdun (February 21, 1916 – December 18, 1916), Bluethenthal was award the Croix De Guerre, a French military decoration. In June 1917, he then joined the French Foreign Legion Air Service. While serving with Escadrille 227 he was killed on June 5, 1918 while on a bombing raid behind German lines near Coivrel, France. Blumenthal was the first person from New Hanover county to die in combat while serving in the first World War and the third North Carolinian to die while flying for France. Kiffen Rockwell was killed on September 23, 1916 and James Rogers McConnell had died on March 19, 1917, both while flying with the Lafayette Escadrille.
Bluethenthal had earned fame prior to World War I as a member of the Princeton football team. He was a First Team All-East center in 1911. He also served as an assistant football coach at Princeton University and then the University of North Carolina. On Memorial Day, May 30, 1928, the Wilmington airport was named Bluethenthal Field in his honor.
The grave is located at Oakdale Cemetery, North 15th Street, Wilmington, NC, Section G lot #28.
The grave sits in the grass, surrounded by gravestones.