Screening of new film: The Millionaires' Unit

  • 12 Jun 2012
  • 6:30 PM
  • Courthouse Doubletree by Hilton, 19-21 Great Marlborough Street, W1F 7HL

Not:     This is not an official Yale Club event, so if you are interested please contact Darroch Greer directly to get a place.



More about the film:

The Millionaires’ Unit documentary film is the story of a group privileged and idealistic Yale students who, in 1916, formed a private air militia in preparation for America’s entry into World War One. The First Yale Unit, as they were known, became the founding squadron of the Naval Air Reserve. They were the first to fly and the first to die for the United States in the Great War.

Members of the First Yale Unit included the Navy’s first and only air ace of WWI, David S. Ingalls (Ingalls Rink), Robert A. Lovett, who became President Truman’s Secretary of Defense and acting Secretary of State, F. Trubee Davison, first Assistant Secretary of War for Air and first personnel director of the CIA, as well as three rear admirals, a general, eleven recipients of the Navy Cross, three recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal, and three who made the ultimate sacrifice. They were young men coming-of-age as America was coming-of-age as a world power, and their legacy of service and sacrifice helped lead the United States through two world wars and the Cold War.

The film is being made by several grandsons of First Yale Unit members and with the support of a good number of the Unit’s families who have opened their private collections of photographs and memorabilia – most never seen before – to the film. The documentary has benefited immensely from several weeks research at the Sterling Library at Yale University, and one of the interviewees is Learned Professor Emeritus of History, Gaddis Smith.

This past Veterans Day, the filmmakers were invited to present their 86-minute rough-cut of the film at Yale to help inaugurate the newly formed Yale Veterans Association and to help welcome Navy ROTC back to the Yale campus. After a stirring ceremony at Beinecke Plaza, led by Yale Vice President Linda Lorimer (in front of the cenotaph to the Men of Yale who died in the service of their country in WWI, which was paid for and dedicated by Trubee Davison, the founder of the First Yale Unit) the film was screened for a full audience in the Whitney Humanities Center.

The film has raised half of its budget and is about halfway through production. We are currently re-editing the film to include dozens of letters written by the young pilots as they were training and flying overseas, and we are planning several air-to-air shoots with WWI replica planes over the next five months. We are also courting several corporate sponsors with our plan to make the film available to PBS’ American Experience as well screenings and sales at military and aviation museums and meets.

This June, two of the filmmakers will be in London filming and doing research. Harry Davison, Yale Class of ’84 and grandson of F. Trubee Davison, will be joined by Darroch Greer, writer and co-producer/director of The Millionaires’ Unit, to hold a screening and fundraiser and garner more contacts to join our ever-increasing group of friends, families and supporters.
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