The Daedalians honors, as its Founder Members, all WW I aviators who were commissioned as officers and rated as military pilots no later than the Armistice on 11 November 1918. It perpetuates their names as the first to fly our country’s airplanes in time of war. The Daedalian’s membership of commissioned, warrant and flight officer military pilots and WASPs, with its worldwide network of Daedalian Flights and its comprehensive awards program, supports the military services and other aerospace activities. The Awards and Scholarship Programs of the Daedalian’s and Foundation encourage patriotism, integrity, and good character in our nation’s youth; military careers as commissioned pilots; safety of flight, and excellence in the performance of military duties. The Daedalian Foundation’s scholarship program also promotes study in aerospace disciplines.
When war broke out in Europe in 1914, the airplane was hardly more than a dangerous plaything employed at fairs and circuses. Its potential was regarded lightly, when not contemptuously dismissed. Yet, in less than three years, it had gained such a measure of military respectability on the fighting front that when the United States entered the war, the Allies requested the United States furnish five thousand combat pilots on the Western Front by early spring of 1918!
This was a gigantic order. In military aviation, the United States had lagged far behind. Only forty military pilots had been trained in this country and eleven of those had been killed. Twenty-eight airplanes had been purchased by the government of which sixteen had been wrecked. In the then recent Mexican operations, the entire equipment of the Air Unit of the Army, which consisted of the 1st Aero Squadron, had been almost completely demolished. From this very meager nucleus of military airman, five thousand pilots had to be trained in one year!
The call for volunteers went out, for then as now, no one would be required to fly against his will. From all walks of life and all parts of the country, some 40,000 young men answered our country’s call for pilots. By the time the Armistice was signed, some eleven thousand had received their wings in the Army and another two thousand in the Navy and Marine Corps. All were motivated by a patriotic desire to serve their country in its hour of need.
After the Armistice, many attempts were made to form organizations to solidify the bonds of aerial comradeship that had been molded in crisis during World War I. Several groups were formed by those whose foundations were purely social and retrospective gradually faded into obscurity. In 1921, while speaking to WW I pilots, who had just flown for him to sink the Ostfriesland off the Virginia coast, Gen. Billy Mitchell urged the creation of an organization that would honor the W. W. I military pilots as the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.
Concurrently, in the military establishments, small groups of officers informally discussed the formation of similar organizations, but seldom was any sizable number stationed in the same locality to take action. Nevertheless, at some of the larger bases, organizations were established, but they soon expired. This mass demise was due not to any erosion of friendship but rather to the inevitable transfers which overwhelmed organizational unity. Additionally, for the military pilots dedicated to building a military air arm of the future, it was not enough to gather together for the principal of reliving the past.
In 1932, new impetus was given to the idea of establishing a formal organization of WW I military pilots. War clouds had begun to gather in Asia and Europe as nations began their retreat from powerful aggressors. The fear that apparently guided their decision seemed to penetrate our own national psychology. What was needed was some sort of standard, some solid reason that would remind us all and proclaim to the world that in the United States there was unity, patriotism, courage, and the spirit of self-sacrifice that placed service to the Nation above personal safety. Furthermore, there was also in this country, in the form of our growing air power, the means to preserve the freedoms which our forebears had established.
In 1933, a representative group of WW I military pilots stationed at Maxwell Field, Alabama consolidated these ideas which had long been forming. The result was that on 26 March 1934, there was formally instituted the Order of Daedalians composed of those commissioned officers who, no later than the Armistice of 1918 held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. These W. W. I military pilots, in the preamble to the constitution of the Order, stated as their purpose: “. . . to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country . . . and the high ideals of self-sacrifice which placed service to the nation above personal safety and position, and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together at that critical hour of our nation’s need . . .”
Since, according to legend, Daedalus was the first person ever to accomplish heavier-than-air flight, it was considered the name “Order of Daedalians” was both fitting and proper for an organization composed of those who were the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.
The Charter Members who organized the Daedalians on 26 March 1934 are:
|Capt Banfill, Charles Y.|
|Capt Barker, John D.|
|Capt Beau, Lucus V.|
|1st Lt. Birnn, Roland|
|1st Lt Blackburn, Lloyd C.|
|Capt Carter, Warren R.|
|Capt Curry, James T., Jr.|
|1st Lt Dawson, Leo H.|
|Capt Eaton, Samuel C., Jr.|
|Capt Eglin, Frederick I.|
|Capt Gardner, John H.|
|1st Lt Gates, Byron E.|
|Capt George, Harold Lee|
|Capt Gothin, Oliver P.|
|Capt Hamilton, Arthur G.|
|1st Lt Horton, Clarence F.|
|1st Lt Howard, Charles H.|
|Capt Kenny, Cornelius J.|
|Capt Kiel, Emil C.|
|1st Lt Landers, Sigmund F.|
|Capt Ligget, Arthur G.|
|Capt Martenstein, Austin W.|
|1st Lt McGregor, Kenneth C.|
|Capt McMullen, Clements|
If you would like to know more about the history of the Daedalians, you can request a history from our headquarters.
|1st Lt McReynolds, Edwin R.|
|Capt Meloy, Vincent J.|
|Capt Moon, Odas|
|Capt Moore, John I.|
|Capt Palmer, George M.|
|Capt Patrick, John B.|
|Capt Ramey, Howard K.|
|Capt Skow, Charles T.|
|Capt Sweeley, William R.|
|Capt Thompson, Bernard S.|
|1st Lt Whitten, Lyman P.|
The Promise of a Daedalian
In the presence of Almighty God and these witnesses, I promise I will forever abide by the Tenets of the Order of Daedalians:
The Tenets of the Daedalians
- To Place Nation Above Self (Patriotism)
- To Be Worthy of the Trust and Confidence of a Fellow Daedalian (Personal Integrity and Character)
The Objectives of the Daedalians
- Promote Air & Space Power in support of National Defense.
- Educate Americans to the advantages of Air & Space Power.
- Promote the rewards of a career in military aviation to young Americans.
- Honor the legacy of our Founder Members and all who have flown in defense of our nation.
- Encourage and recognize improvements in Flight Safety, Weapons Development, Combat Support and the overall effectiveness of Air & Space Power.
- Recognize exceptional performance by military aviators.
I make this promise with no equivocation or mental reservation and ask Almighty God to assist me in unwavering adherence to the spirit and provisions of this Promise. So help me God and keep me steadfast.