Billy Lee Dougan, was born in Salem, Missouri and went to school here. Billy joined the British Army in the summer of 1915, enlisting in Windsor, Canada. He was assigned to the 23rd Battalion foot soldiers. He was transferred to the Motor Transport Division located in France. Billy was there for a year when he decided to apply for the Air Corps. Not long after applying he was soon transferred again. The Air Corps sent Billy to England where he was trained for six months.
After his training he was sent to France for aerial combat. The 29th Squadron, which he was assigned to, was advised on September 28, 1918 to engage the enemy. He was soon in aerial combat with a German pilot. The fight didn’t last long and the German pilot fled. Billy soon spotted a balloon tethered to the ground with a crew of forty men. He turned his plane downward to attack the balloon when he was hit by six bullets to his leg. In Billy’s retreat a seventh bullet pierced his lung. Billy passed out and the plane dropped 200 yards crashing into the top of a two-story house. He climbed out of the wreckage only to be met by a German Officer.
Billy lay on the ground for six hours until an ambulance took him to an enemy field hospital where he was left in a morgue for three days to die. He had to leave his trusted plane which had shot down nine enemy planes during his 1,200 hours of military flight. He survived this ordeal and on Christmas day, 1918 he arrived at Prince Wales Hospital in England. He received a personal letter from King George and a pack of cigarettes from author Elinor Glynn. He was discharged in October 1919.
Billy came back to the states after being discharged and began crop dusting and barn storming with his plane. This brings us to Main Street in Salem. Billy visited Salem with his airplane, flying down Main Street with the wings of his plane level with the top of the buildings. He flew around the steeple of the First Christian Church several times and then dipped his tires in the “cut” and at Bonebrake Spring. Another trip to Salem Billy brought a parachutist who leapt from his plane and landed in the vicinity of the old High School on Tenth Street. Billy was the grandson of Judge L.B. Woodside.