United States Army Air Forces officer's service cap; olive drab (Shade No. 51) wool service cap with russett brown leather visor and chin strap; brass United States eagle crest on peak (American Bald Eagle with a shield on its chest, olive branch in right talon and arrows in the left talon, field of 13 stars in field that surmounts the eagle, banner with embossed letter text "E PLURIBUS UNUM" in eagle's beak; two brass buttons on chin strap; brown cow hide sweat band.
This hat was worn by Alexander de Seversky, a Russian-American pioneer aviator, born in Triflis, Russia on June 7, 1894. In 1914, Seversky graduated from the Imperial Russian Naval Academy with an aeronautics engineering degree. In 1915, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Imperial Naval Air Service. He served in the Baltic fleet during World War I and flew his first mission on July 2, 1915, but was shot down and as the aircraft crashed into the water one of its own bombs exploded. His right leg had to be amputated from the knee down, but after a quick recovery he was made Inspector of Aircraft Production of the Petrograd District for the Russian Navy and was not allowed to fly. Seversky shot down 13 German fighters in 57 flights during the war, making him one of Russia's top flying aces. Seversky was sent to the United States in 1918 as the assistant naval attaché to the Russian Embassy. He chose to stay in the U.S. when the Russian Revolution began and officially became a citizen in 1927. The U.S. War Department called for Seversky's services in 1921 employing him as a test pilot, engineer and special consultant to Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. In 1926, Seversky was promoted to major in the U.S. Army Air Corps Special Reserves.
In later years, Seversky became a prolific writer, lecturer and was a special consultant during WW II to Robert P. Patterson, the Secretary of War. Through these activities he continually conveyed his beliefs about the strategic importance of air power. After the war, Seversky was honored for his services and given the Medal of Merit by President Harry Truman. In 1942 he finished his best seller Victory Through Air Power, which was turned into a film by Walt Disney.
The United States Army Air Forces service cap was the stand uniform cap issued to all American soldiers. Many pilots and crew members removed the hat ring to give their service caps the "crushed" look.