Dear Ms. Cohan,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Records of the 1st through 1111th Aero Squadrons, 1917 - 1919 in the Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18) that includes records of the 471st Aero Squadron. We also located Correspondence Relating to Aero Squadrons, 1919 - 1930 (documenting 1917 - 1930) in Record Group 18; and Card File of Movements of Aero Squadrons, ca. 1917 - ca. 1919 in the Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (Record Group 120) that contain records concerning specific squadrons during World War I and may include records relating to the 471st.
In addition, we located Records Relating to the History of the War Department, 1918 - 1941 (documenting 1898 - 1941) in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (Record Group 165) that contains records concerning the Air Service, aero squadrons, and may include records of the 471st.
Plus, we located Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917 - 1919 in Record Group 120. According to the descriptive pamphlet for the microfilm publication of the records, it does not include a squadron history for the 471st, however it may include some information of interest.
Please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at Archives2reference@nara.gov for further information about the records listed above.
Copies of most of the monthly rosters from November 1912 to 1943 and morning reports from November 1, 1912 to 1959 for Army units (including Army Air Service) are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For information about these records, please contact RL-SL via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for officers and enlisted men of the U.S. Army who served during World War I are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002. If there is any information requested by the form that you do not know, you may omit it or provide estimates. However the more information you provide, the easier it will be for NPRC staff to locate the correct files, if they survived the fire. You may also attach a memo or letter providing any additional information you have about his service, such as the name of the unit he served in. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RL-SL. Also, the National Personnel Records Center is is currently only servicing emergency requests and will soon expand its service to include time-sensitive requests from veterans for records needed to secure VA home loan guarantees and employment opportunities. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
We searched online and located several references indicating that the 471st was a construction squadron, including Air Force Pamphlet No. 900-1-2 Unit Decorations, Awards, and Campaign Participation Credits; Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War, Volume 3, Part 3; a brief unit history; and some other incidental mentions on Google Books.
Aero construction squadrons were primarily used to build airfields, hangers, and similar facilities for use by the Army Air Service. We located a narrative history of a similar unit, the 474st Aero Squadron that may be of interest. This history is taken from the previously mentioned Gorrell's History.
We located Leading the Way: The History of Air Force Civil Engineers that does not mention the 471st but does describe some of the construction work done by the Army Air Service during World War I. We also located the article BUILDING AIRPOWER: American Air Service Construction in the Great War which is available with a free JSTOR account and may be of interest. Some libraries provide access to JSTOR to their patrons.
Lastly, you may wish to contact the National Museum of the Army Air Force, the National WWI Museum & Memorial, and the National Air and Space Museum for information pertaining to the US Army Air Service during World War I.
We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!