Manfred von Richthofen may have been called “Little Manny” by his mother, but we all simply knew him as “The Red Baron“. Like Santa, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Torgo, The Red Baron conjures up mystical images…albeit different mystical images than Torgo. A foggy morning with dew heavy on the ground. The bright red Fokker Triplane in the misty background. The goggled young man standing there giving his love a last embrace…ok, even I’m about to gag.
Seriously, Richthofen has done it all. He’s gone airplane-to-doghouse with America’s most loved beagle (a close second?…this beagle). He’s had songs written about him, he’s had video games created in his honor. He’s even got his own line of frozen pizzas, which aren’t too bad, especially the pepperoni when it’s hot from the oven with a little extra parmesan. Not bad for a guy who died 30+ years before Snoopy darkened the newspapers’ whitespace and nearly 60 years before computer games hit the scene.
So who was this not-masked man? The Red Baron was the greatest ace of World War I, shooting down 80 aircraft before being shot down and killed on April 21, 1918. There is still mystery as to who gets credit for downing the Baron. He was in enemy territory in pursuit of an enemy airplane, being pursued by another enemy airplane, and being shot at by numerous enemies on the ground. But students of this famed final fight strongly agree that ground fire is what killed Richthofen, who was able to land his plane in his dying moments.
Legendary in life, and even more legendary in death…The Red Baron.
Recommended Activity: Honor The Red Baron’s passing. Read a book about The Red Baron that was written by The Red Baron. Eat a Red Baron pizza or listen to the recording of that famous song about Snoopy’s fight with him…several times. Better yet, get together with your neighbors and re-enact the Baron’s last dogfight on your front lawn…guns, airplanes, and artillery recommended but not required. And don’t forget your helmet…