CORNING - The 2019 Memorial Day Ceremonies will culminate Monday, May 27, with military honors to a Corning man who fought in World War I.
Reginald Sinclaire, who joined France’s Service Aeronautique in June 1917, flew 167 combat missions in WWI. The military honors for the WWI veteran will be held at noon May 27, at Hope Cemetery, following the annual celebration.
The Memorial Day Ceremonies will kick off at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park, off Park Avenue, said Dick Naylor, team captain of the Corning American Legion Ritual Team.
The annual Memorial Day event will include a welcoming and prayer, Corning City Mayor Bill Boland will make comments, taps, a wreath presentation and benediction. After the ceremonies the celebration will move to nearby Hope Cemetery.
“We are looking forward to the military honors for Reginald Sinclaire,” Naylor said. “It’s quite a piece of history we stumbled on and thought it would be an honorable thing to do on Memorial Day.”
Sinclaire was born on August 30, 1893, in Corning. He died Feb. 15, 1989, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was eventually buried in Hope Cemetery, without military honors.
Local historian Tom Dimitroff provided some history of Sinclaire.
Early in the 1900s, things in Europe were not good. At the time of war breaking out in Europe, Sinclaire was a patriotic 21-year-old.
He also had a fascination for everything related to flying an airplane, as primitive as they were at that time. Although America remained neutral, most Americans favored the Allies.
After the Axis powers violated our neutrality numerous times, on April 7, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Axis countries. Congress did.
As soon as the war included America, Sinclaire tried to join America’s aviation forces, but was turned down. He heard the France was building an aviation force of Americans. So on June 15, 1917, an ambitious and daring young Sinclaire joined France’s Service Aeronautique.
Sinclaire immediately started in the French flying school where in addition to learning flying skills, he traveled to Avord, Pau, to attend aviation and gunnery training. Sinclaire earned his brevet on the Caudron on Oct. 2, 1917.
After graduation, Sinclaire was assigned to Escadrille SPA in Groupe de comant 20. He engaged in 30 aerial combats in which he had three confirmed victories and shot down eight enemy aircraft, giving him the honor of being an Ace.
All of this time the American flyers wore American uniforms and their planes carried American insignias. Sinclaire was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with three palms.
After the war, Sinclaire continued his aviation activities. In 1928 he designed and built his own racing plane. Flying this plane himself, he took second place in the National Air Races.
When the United States entered World War II, Sinclaire was given a commission in the United States Navy. He was assigned to be in charge of the Naval Aviation’s gunnery training program at Koneo Bay, Hawaii.
Sinclaire also served as a commander of Admiral King’s staff at the Naval Department in Washington, D.C. He retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of commander.