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WINONA, Miss. (WCBI) – The city of Winona is honoring a hometown hero today.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of the first Naval Aviator to die in the line of duty during World War I.

Ensign William Devotie Billingsley graduated from the Naval Academy in 1909. He was one of the “Bird Men” who are considered the fathers of the test pilot generation.

He died June 20, 1913 when his B2 plane hit turbulence and went into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland.

Billingsley graduated from Winona High School. He is the son of D.V. and Connie Alma Billinglsey.

He was 26 years old when he perished in the aircraft accident, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Winona.

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