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Arthur "Bluey" Bluethenthal
Born (1891-11-01)November 1, 1891
Wilmington, North Carolina
Died June 5, 1918(1918-06-05) (aged 26)
near Maignelay, France
Cause of death aerial combat with four German planes
Place of burial Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC
Citizenship U.S.
Alma mater Princeton University
Occupation bomber pilot
Known for All American center for Princeton football team; highly decorated fighting for France in World War I
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 186 lb (84 kg)
Religion Jewish

Arthur Bluethenthal, nicknamed "Bluey" (November 1, 1891, in Wilmington, North Carolina – June 5, 1918), was an All American football player for Princeton University, who died in combat fighting for France in World War I.[1]

Early life[]

The son of Leopold and Johanna Bluethenthal, he attended Phillips Exeter Academy prior to attending Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1913.[2]

Football career[]

At Princeton University the 5' 9", 186-pound Bluethenthal played center from 1910–12. In 1911, he was named first team All-America by a number of newspapers, Walter Camp second team All-America, and first team All-East in a consensus of 28 newspapers. That year, the Tigers were 8–0–2, and yielded only 15 points the entire year. In 1912, Walter Camp selected him as third team All-America. Bluethenthal is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[3][4]


After he graduated in 1912, Bluethenthal became the line coach for the Princeton Tigers, and then for the University of North Carolina.[3][4][5][6]

World War I[]

In 1916, a year before the United States entered World War I, he joined the French Foreign Legion and served at the Battle of Verdun with the French 129th Infantry Division. France awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Star for conspicuous bravery.[2][3][4]

On June 1, 1917, he joined the French flying corps, flying a single engine Breguet bomber in the Escadrille Breguet 227 of the Lafayette Flying Corps, as the only American in the squadron.[2][4][7][8] He was killed in battle in aerial combat with four German planes while directing artillery fire on June 5, 1918, near Maignelay, France, 50 miles north of Paris.[5][7][9][10] He was the first North Carolinian killed in World War I. His body was brought home in 1921, and he was buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.[5][8] France posthumously awarded him a second Croix de Guerre, with Palm. He also received the Médaille Militaire.[3][4]

A June 1918 tribute to Bluethenthal by Captain Hugh Alwyn Inness-Brown in the Paris Herald said:

In the death of Arthur Bluethenthal, killed in an aerial battle some days ago, France and America lost one of their staunchest patriots. To come to death alone, high in the air, with no friend to tell the story of the struggle and to be buried in a lonely spot near the front, unofficially, with little publicity, would have been the fate that Bluethenthal would have desired, could he have chosen. At all times, he shunned being considered a hero, and when a friend said to him jokingly that his fear of publicity amounted to conceit, he replied, 'Conceit it may be, but I've always taken serving France so seriously that I hardly ever want to talk about it.'[3]


The airport in Wilmington, North Carolina, was named Bluethenthal Field on Memorial Day, May 30, 1928, in his honor.[3][4][5][11] Bluethenthal was Jewish, and was a member of Wilmington's Temple of Israel, the first synagogue in North Carolina.[3]

See also[]

  • List of select Jewish football players


  1. Bob Wechsler (2008). Day by day in Jewish sports history. KTAV Publishing House. ISBN 1-60280-013-8. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James William Davenport Seymour (1921). Memorial volume of the American field service in France, "Friends of France", 1914–1917. American field service. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Bluethenthal, Arthur "Bluey"". Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Joseph Siegman (2000). Jewish sports legends: the International Jewish Hall of Fame. Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-284-8. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Marimar McNaughton (January 2009). "Home of Distinction: Family Treasure". Wrightsville Beach Magazine. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  6. "Tiger Football Coaches-Princeton Selects Bluethenthal and Andrews to Drill Eleven". The New York Times. April 15, 1913. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomas C. Parramore (2003). First to Fly: North Carolina and the Beginnings of Aviation. UNC Press Books. ISBN 0-8078-5470-0. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Flying the Unfriendly Skies: North Carolinians in the Two World Wars", Tom Belton, Tar Heel Junior Historian, Fall 2003
  9. "Tribute to Bluethenthal-Posthumous Citation of Flier Who Was a Princeton Athlete". The New York Times. July 8, 1918. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  10. Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, Roy Silver (1995). Encyclopedia of Jews in sports. Bloch Pub. Co. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  11. Susan Taylor Block (1998). Along the Cape Fear. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-0965-4. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 

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