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Son of Early 105th Aviator Shares Father’s Story

Dr. and Mrs. Seward hold a copy of The Tennessean from 1923 and a photo of Lieutenant J.A. Seward when he was with the 105th Squadron in the 1920s.
(Photo by MSgt Julius Shook, 118th Air Wing/Public Affairs.)

Dr. and Mrs. Seward hold a copy of The Tennessean from 1923 and a photo of Lieutenant J.A. Seward when he was with the 105th Squadron in the 1920s. (Photo by MSgt Julius Shook, 118th Air Wing/Public Affairs.)

Nashville -- In August 1923, The Tennessean printed a story with the headline "TN Air Squadron Best in the United States" featuring several aviators from the Nashville-based flying wing. It praised their service in the first World War. Stationed at Blackwood Field in Nashville, Tennessee, the 105th Squadron was the second flying unit in the nation to be established under the National Protection Act. The army aviators who made up the 105th officially began flying missions in 1922. The Army Air squadron's short history and information about the unit's Curtiss JN-6HG "Flying Jennies" ran down the sides of the page with photos of the Nashville aviators in the center.

Today, a copy of that paper is yellowed and fragile in the hands of Dr. John Seward, a retired physician who lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Lorna. Dr. Seward's father, Lieutenant J.A. Seward, was one of the original aviators with the 105th Squadron. During a recent Nashville visit, Dr. Seward toured the 118th and shared his father's story.
Lieutenant Seward graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1914. When the United States entered the first World War in 1916, Seward tried to join the Army Air Corps as a pilot. However, he was given unwelcome news when he was told he had to weigh at least 120 pounds and did not qualify as a pilot. Through a friend, he discovered the 105th Squadron and joined the fledgling unit in 1921. He flew with the 105th during many aircraft changes in the 1920s and 1930s. Lieutenant Seward eventually left the 105th before World War Two.

Lieutenant J.A. Seward's story is one of patriotic determination and a love for his country, characteristics still seen eighty-nine years later at the 118th Airlift Wing. The 118th is rich with military history in both Tennessee and the United States.
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