In the Lafayette Escadrille, death truly was the greatest tragedy. Each death weighed heavily on the men left behind, and perhaps no man in the Escadrille had to endure as many funerals of friends and comrades as Charles Chouteau Johnson. A native of St. Louis, Johnson volunteered for the Ambulance Corp in France. However, like many of his fellow aviators, the horrors of the battlefield prompted Johnson to seek a more active role in the war. On May 29th, 1916, Johnson became one of the first members of the Lafayette Escadrille, and established himself as capable pilot. As original member after original member found their demise in the skies of France, Johnson became something of a mythological figure to younger aviators, and he enjoyed relaying stories of the old-days, when he and his fellow founding members began making history with the Escadrille. Johnson had the good luck to never have been injured during his 17 months on the front, but the task of repeatedly burying began to take its toll on him. Though it pained him to leave his beloved Escadrille, Johnson decided to accept an instructor position at the American Aviator School in Tours. The combat experience gained by Johnson and passed on to his students at the school was invaluable to the United States as it began to form its own air force.