Attached to the British Air Service
1st Lt. John Grider, the son of a planter, entered the U.S. service from Arkansas. Before entering the service, he was married to Marguerite Samuels and had two sons, John and George. John went on to be a captain in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War. George became a naval officer as well, and eventually a U.S. Congressman.
Grider divorced his wife shortly before departing for World War I. He traveled to Chicago, Ill., and enlisted as a cadet in the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He arrived in England in October 1917, and was stationed in Oxford. Because the United States had not yet organized its own air service, Grider was assigned to No. 85 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
Grider had only been in France for one month when he was shot down on June 18, 1918. His aircraft disappeared after shooting down an enemy plane near Armentieres, France. His body was never recovered, but a German pilot confirmed his death.
Grider kept a diary during the war, which was later published and inspired a documentary. Grider’s diary describes his experiences as a member of the “Three Musketeers”, three U.S. southerners who flew with the Royal Air Force.
John Mc G. Grider is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Flanders Field American Cemetery.