rougher than it seemed from the air to be, his machine was put out of commission. There he was alone at night in a strange and unfriendly country. Then as he afterward found out, he was about 35 miles below the camp. He hastily took from the wrecked machine a few small articles that he needed, and went towards the light nearby to consult his map. The light, he found, was caused by a burning crosstie. He was near a railroad. While consulting his map, he wa hailed by a few mounted Mexicans who were approaching possibly fifty yards away. On seeing the Mexicans, Capt. Willis quickly slipped down behind the railroad bank into the darkness, and with his pistol ready for defense awaited them, but the Mexicans rode away and left him. He walked all night in the direction of the United States, and the next morning he was on a ridge lookng across a valley toward another ridge in the direction of home. While on his way across the valley, before about to meet some Mexicans, he lay down in the tall grass to conceal himself, and there he had to lie the entire day in the broiling hot sun and without water. When night came on he resumed his walk toward home and about two o'clock a.m., to his great joy, he came upon the rest of the squadron, who had found a place a few miles from the camp suitable for aeroplanes to rise and land. His friends were overjoyed to see him safe, for he had been lost nearly forty hours and they had almost given him up.
On April 19, a few weeks after his trying experience, recorded above, Capt. Willis and Lieut. Dargue, (Herbert A. Dargue), were detailed to fly some distance below the camp on a reconnoitering expedition. Lieut. Dargue as pilot and Capt. Willis as observer. When about sixty-five miles from the camp, having fulfilled their mission, the two aviators started on the return trip. They had flown but a short distance when, in attempting to go over a mountain, the machine became unmanageable, and they crashed into the side of the mountain. The machine totally wrecked, Lieut. Dargue was stunned into insensibility, but did not receive a scratch. Capt. Willis was caught under the wreck and was held hard and fast by one leg and foot. When Lieut. Dargue came to himself, it took him quite a while to extricate his companion from the wreck. Capt. Willis did not at all lose consciousness, but he received a serious wound nine inches long, the scalp lying back, and foot and leg badly bruised, but apparently not broken, although it was afterwards discovered, a bone in the foot was broken. The two aviators, one with a bad scalp wound and broken foot, started to walk sixty-five miles back to camp over rough, stony ground covered with tough grass. It took them forty-five hours, walking day and night, to get to the camp. Long before they arrived, Capt. Willis felt as if every step would be the last.
After the aeroplane accident, Capt. Willis was sent to Columbus, in an automobile, with four other men and only three rifles. On the way they were fired on by some sniper, but fortunately escaped unhurt. From Columbus, Capt. Willis was sent to the base hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Having recovered from his hurts, after spending ten or twelve weeks in the hospital, he returned to Columbus ready and anxious to fly again.
While at Columbus, about the first of October 1916, he was ordered to Washington to attend a sitting of a machine-gun board appointed to choose machine-guns for the United States Army. Capt. Willis was the recorder of the board and also a member. In the spring of 1917, the board was in session several weeks at Springfield, Massachusetts. The last account of the board was to pass the following resolution:
Springfield Armory, Massachusetts
May 31, 1917
Before adjournment the Board places on its record its appreciation of the faithful work done by the Recorder, Capt. Robert Henry Willis, Jr., Signal Corps, who is also a member. Capt. Willis has not spared himself, but has given time, thought and great care to all the details, spending many nights at his desk after days on the range or in the experimental room
In the recording of the data resulting from the tests, Capt. Willis has personally attended to all the minute and exacting work so as to insure accuracy throughout.
The Board's duties have been materially assisted by the thoughtful care of Capt. Willis in the preliminary arrangements and in the devising of blanks and supervision of clerks and other employees.
In conclusion, the Board thanks Capt. Willis for his assistance and wishes him the success which is sure to follow such single minded attention to his duty.
F. H. French
Brigadier General U.S. Army
President of the Board