Little, Orville A. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Orville A. Little was a mechanic for the airplanes used in World War I. Born in Indiana to a farming family, Little enlisted with the American Air Service in the fall of 1917 and was stationed at Everman, Texas, and trained in the flying fields outside of Fort Worth. Often, Orville's duties extended beyond engine repair and basic guard duty; in Texas he helped out with various sheet metal projects and designed and painted emblems on many of his squadron's planes. By the spring of 1918, Orville and his squadron found themselves traveling to New York in preparation to go overseas. It is unclear whether they landed first in Belgium or England, but they proceeded across France until they joined the American front in July of that year. Orville routinely wrote to his family detailing the states and countries he traveled through, the agricultural practices of those communities, and the reception he and his companions received, but as they approached the front his letters comment more on the destruction of the surrounding towns and the constant shelling from enemy artillery.
On October 30, 1918, Orville crossed the Hindenburg Line with American and British troops in pursuit of retreating German forces. Although armistice was reached within two weeks of that time, his squadron remained abroad for several months. Orville returned home, uninjured, in March 1919.