August 16, 1921 – San Francisco, California
March 16, 1922 – Reno, Nevada
Despite working for the U.S. government during the years of prohibition, America's air mail pilots had a reputation as hard drinking and hard living men. While many pilots were neither, some indulged to extremes. One such pilot was John "Shorty" Eaton. Eaton was born in San Francisco, California on July 12, 1898. He served in World War I, commanding the 324th aero squadron. He joined the Air Mail Service on September 8, 1920.
Eaton flew steadily for the service for the next several years. Unfortunately, he was unable to restrain his drinking to off hours. He was fired on January 9, 1924 for repeated drunkenness, having already been cited at least twice before for incidents, including one in which he threatened a ground crew member with a gun.