Our Link to Communication

Low Earth orbit satellite to enhance situational awareness

By: 1st Lt. Nick Nowland, USAF, Daedalian Member #4921

Drones, missile strikes and late-night raids on enemy high-value targets — these are the bits of news that occasionally percolate out of the United States’ ongoing conflicts. However, behind all the advanced technology and dramatic action, there is a system that provides American forces with their real secret weapon: situational awareness of the battlefield. Precise weapons, high flying aircraft and meticulously trained special operators are only useful if you can determine friend from foe in the battle-space, and more importantly, know where they are located. Situational awareness, or SA, is the fuel that keeps the U.S. military’s combat operations running.

     Military leaders throughout history have understood the importance of SA, and it has been a consistent feature of great generals from Caesar to Zhukov. A commander who better understands their troop’s location in relation to the enemy can seize the offensive initiative and attack with confidence. The need for greater combat SA became especially clear to the American military in World War Two. Studies noted that those on the battlefield with the most SA usually lacked efficient means to accurately communicate that information to those units in need of that awareness. This was particularly clear during the massive Japanese kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Navy during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The Navy could not effectively vector intercepting fighters onto kamikazes early enough to prevent the Japanese from killing almost 5,000 sailors and sinking dozens of ships. The U.S. military did not forget those painful lessons, and by the 1960s, the Navy and Air Force were both developing technologies to enable units on the battlefield to share information about their location and the position of enemy units.

     One of these technologies developed into a system the U.S. military still uses today. The system has had a variety of names, but its current label is Link 16. It is a family of technologies that use radios as tactical data links that enable air, ground and sea assets to communicate and track each other’s locations on screens. Link 16 users can also share battlefield points of interest and identify enemies. Thus, a soldier sitting in a Humvee under camouflage netting can have the same level of SA as a command-and-control aircraft circling the battlefield at 20,000 feet.

     Link 16 is critical in the United States’ current conflicts for a variety of reasons, with one of its most useful aspects lying in its ability to help large numbers of aircraft in small operating areas safely deconflict. However, as the U.S. prepares for great power competitions, Link 16 will become even more critical. Quickly differentiating friend from foe is vital when that foe is a highly capable SU-35 darting towards friendly aircraft or when an unidentified vehicle is a Russian multiple-launch-rocket-system about to unleash a barrage on American infantry. Seconds matter in these life-and-death situations, and Link 16 helps
arm combatants with the information they need to make split-second decisions.

     Fortunately, Link 16 is becoming even more capable as the Air Force is working with private industry to build a low Earth orbit satellite capable of extending the range of Link 16 networks and connecting them to larger constellations of satellites. This spacecraft represents a crucial step in the effort to transform Link 16 from a line-of-sight to a beyond-line-of-sight system that will greatly improve its SA — providing additional capabilities. Building Link 16 transmitters into new satellites is also relatively inexpensive, thus adding Link 16 capabilities to planned satellites is financially feasible and would enable a fleet of them to provide persistent coverage for military assets around the globe. A greater number of satellites also means the system is more durable and can survive an enemy destroying a number of satellites, a real possibility in future conflicts. 

     Furthermore, the battlegrounds of the future will certainly involve mass amounts of communications jamming, and the network infrastructure of Link 16 makes it resistant to this. For a future armored company commander sitting on a battlefield seething with electronic warfare that renders most of their radios useless, Link 16 may be the only connection to friendly forces this lonely commander may possess. It could be their sole means of understanding the battlefield beyond the scopes of their tank sights and Mark I eyeballs. 

     Thus, if amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics, then forward-looking thinkers should talk Link 16.

A Pilot’s View: The U.S. Space Force

Commentary By: Lt. Col. Ron Davis, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #238

The founding of the United States Space Force in 2019 marked a milestone in our defense establishment. It is the first new military service created since the U.S. Air Force in 1947. Its creation acknowledged the importance of space operations and advanced technology, both as a capability in and of itself, but more importantly as a set of tools that have become force multipliers for our warfighters.

     Founding the Space Force was certainly less contentious than the decades-long battle for an independent Air Force. We didn’t see any bombing of captured battleships, public accusations about safety or a very visible court-martial to sway public opinion. There wasn’t even a small group of air-minded junior officers at the then-Maxwell Field creating a fraternal order to advocate for and honor military aviation. While the concept had been discussed decades ago, in 2017, several influential congressional advocates pushed for its establishment. After getting endorsed by President Donald Trump, it was made part of the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill. 

     Partnered with the Air Force in the Department of the Air Force, the Space Force now boasts its own four-star leadership — highly experienced in space operations — a headquarters at the Pentagon and a personnel cadre. Many of its initial members, some 16,000 at this time, transferred from the Air Force; however, procedures are in place for personnel from other branches to transfer in. 

     According to USSF’s website, to minimize cost and duplication, the Department of the Air Force will continue to “provide support functions that includes logistics, base operating support, civilian personnel management, business systems, IT support, audit agencies, etc.” The enabling legislation mandated a “zero-sum” standup budget, with clearly worded guidance on avoiding duplication of efforts.

     Today’s Space Force bases are mission-centered and have long histories of supporting the space mission.

Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, has a long history of space surveillance and missile warning operations. It now manages the legacy and developing systems for this highly technical task.

Los Angeles Space Force Base, California, has hosted the Department of Defense’s premier space development and acquisition activity for over 65 years. Now designated Space Systems Command, that organization manages an annual $11 billion budget that covers the full spectrum of space system development and sustainment.

Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, and its associated Eastern Range look back on more than 70 years as America’s busiest space portal. The current launch pace at Patrick Space Force Base/Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the adjoining NASA Kennedy Space Center were at an all-time high of 37 successful launches in 2021, driven in part by the success and energy of commercialized space access. Its mission falls under the Space Systems Command.

Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, transitioned from the Air Force to the Space Force in 2020. Its mission is varied but includes hosting the Space Operations Command, which in turn oversees most other ongoing Space Force activities, including the Space Training and Readiness Command. 

Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. This operating location performs most of the control functions for our nation’s space assets. For pilots, that includes the vital GPS.

Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, provides operational, geographic and technical advantages compared to other launch venues, especially in testing long-range weapons (its mission for many years in support of the Strategic Air Command), and in enabling launch to polar orbits. It is also subordinate to Los Angeles-based Space Systems Command.

     The Space Force is developing its own formal and informal culture, uniforms and duty titles. It certainly has captured a younger generation’s attention. According to the Air Force Academy, of the 1,019 2021 graduates, 114 of those are commissioning into the
Space Force. 

     Whether the Space Force will grow a unique culture such as the Marine Corps does within the Department of the Navy, or focuses on its technology-heavy mission, will soon be seen. For instance, will there be any aviation element within the Space Force? This will be seen later. In the meantime, we can look back some 70 years, and remind ourselves that the Air Force still had privates and corporals as late as 1952. Change happens, and usually at its own pace.

A Sit Down with a NASA Solar System Ambassador

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Autumn Bernhard: What drew you to the Navy?

Tim Pinkney: It all started when I was 5 years old when I first took control of the family airplane. My dad had been a co-pilot and flew B-24 bombers, so when he got out of the service, he bought himself an airplane. My mom learned to fly and became quite an accomplished aviatrix. So, I was flying at 5. I got my private pilot’s license when I was three months out of high school, and got my multi-engine rating shortly before I joined the Navy. Dad was an enthusiast in glider soaring, so he and I had father-son competitions. He held the record for the highest non-engine flight of 34,000 feet over the Colorado Rockies. I held the family endurance record for staying aloft for 6.5 hours.

I was born and raised in an aviation family, so military service was the way to go. I asked my dad which service I should go into knowing he was Army Air Corps/Air Force, assuming he would say Air Force. But he said, “Go first-class; go Navy.” After graduation in the 1970s, I went through flight training and got my wings of gold. I got stashed at Naval Air Station Lemoore as a navigation aid. I was itching to go to Vietnam, but the war was “over” in ’73 with the peace agreement, and I thought I missed my opportunity at a career. Every aspiring officer needs to have a war in their resume if they wanted to go up the ranks. I planned to be an admiral, so I was really disappointed that I didn’t get to go to war.

But we joined an electronic warfare squadron, VAQ-137, and it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for Vietnam the day my daughter turned 2. When I got back, she was nearly 3. My dad met me at the dock with my family and I said, “Why is the Navy first class?” The short version is, the Army Air Corp always lived in tents and he was stationed at Kodiak, Alaska, so there were pretty harsh conditions. “But the Navy got Quonset huts, and man was that first class,” dad said. I learned to always ask when someone says something is the best to ask why.

I joined the Navy Reserves after seven years of active duty. I spent 15 years in the Reserves with the same squadron. So we started as young junior officers, and 12 years later, we were all commanding officers as our seniority gained. I continued to fly gliders and took my last flight less than a year ago.

AB: Where did your attraction to the last frontier come from?

TP: When we lived in Redondo Beach, (then)-Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a missile when I was 9. As it took off into the sunset, we watched the vapor trail and that created my fascination with space. I had, until recently, put down a deposit with Virgin Galactic to go to space. I wanted to be an astronaut, and I looked at the application back when I was on the aircraft carrier. I didn’t have enough math to enter, so I didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to go to space. So, I was willing to buy my way into it. But when Virgin Galactic raised their prices to $450,000, I thought I could do a lot more good to help the world rather than help my childhood dream by investing the money somewhere else. Blue Origin hasn’t set their price yet, so I’m waiting to see. I’m not giving up. There have been less than 500 people to space ever, so that number is going to double very quickly, but to still be out of 7 billion people to get off Earth and look at it, is something I look forward to.

The NASA Solar System Ambassador program is a public engagement effort that works with motivated volunteers across the nation to communicate the science and excitement of NASA’s space exploration missions and discoveries with the people in their communities.

AB: How did you become a NASA Solar System Ambassador?

TP: A friend invited me to a presentation he was making as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. I thought, “Gee, I could do that and would love to do that.” In my first three years (2016-2019), I did 50 presentations. In 2020, I did 24 and last year 21. The requirement is three a year. Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What is the process like to become an ambassador?

TP: As of last year, there were 1,071 ambassadors throughout the United States. It takes some vetting, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You just have to have an interest in space. There is an orientation on what an ambassador does and an ethics class as well. We are ethically required to report honest things and not make things up. We don’t have to run our presentations by NASA. NASA invites us to almost weekly programs online where an expert speaks on their subject. For example, we got to have a one-hour presentation on the Mars Rover Perseverance team that drives the rover, what they look at and the decisions they made. So I have access to a library of more than eight years of presentations on almost any topic in the solar system.

AB: What do your presentations cover?

TP: I have 15 already prepared presentations — one on every planet and then some of the specific missions. Most people want to have relevance in the presentations. Two libraries wanted a 10-month seminar starting with the sun and working our way through the planets and touching on a few other topics I didn’t have knowledge about that. So I took what NASA made available to the ambassadors. Some ambassadors have an astronomy focus, some have an astrobiological focus, so they tend to be narrower. I just look at what NASA gives me and go from there.

AB: Who is in the presentation audience?

TP: My youngest has been 5 years old, he knew amazing stuff. I’ve also given presentations to people who were all seniors. Inspiring the youth is something I’ve always wanted to do. With the Aerospace Museum in California, where I was on the board of directors for 10 years and the deputy director in the interim period while they searched for a permanent fit, our focus was 5th-grade kids. I would do presentations there and to see their eyes light up, and do hands-on things. All we are trying to do is out of a class of 100, spark three or five kids into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I’m amazed by what the American public does not know about the space program. It is wonderful to inform, educate and expose people to what our space program is. I was thinking about how long I wanted to do this. I’m enthusiastic about life, and I’m super enthusiastic about space, so as long as I have life, I think I will be doing space.

AB: What excites you about what NASA is doing today?

TP: Almost every planet has something going on. It not only excites me, but it captivates me. The Parker Solar Probe: We have never had a probe get that close to the sun, it’s literally touching the corona. Juno was launched in 2011 to Jupiter. Cassini has been on Saturn for 13 years. Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, landed in 2021. In 2027, we are launching Dragonfly — a drone that’s the size of a pick-up truck, eight blades, 900 pounds and is nuclear powered — to Saturn’s moon, Titan — the only named moon with an atmosphere and it has liquid on it. It will land in 2034. James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) is going to answer questions we don’t even know to ask. It will be stunning, and we are going back to within 200 million years of the Big Bang —13.7 billion years ago — we are going back 13.5 billion years. We are going to see the first stars, and the first galaxies form. It’s going to revolutionize astrophysics and our understanding of what happened in the Big Bang. In one year, we will be saying, “Before Webb, we believed and understood this, and now it’s different.” We know the universe is expanding. We know that galaxies are together because of gravitational pull, but they are getting further and further apart and losing their gravity so everything will go into blackness. Webb is going to tell us a lot about that. It took 9 years to design and redesign Webb, 11 years to build it and 5 years of testing and making sure everything worked right. NASA worked to make sure it was deployed without any hitches. They have learned so much and prepared so well.

Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What are your thoughts on space now being considered a warfighting domain?

TP: I don’t feel adequate to talk about the military aspects of that, but it’s a much-needed branch. If I were that age, that’s the branch I would want to be in. China is the scary force to be reckoned with in all aspects. I think scientist to scientist, there’s not a problem. It’s just forms of government — democracy versus communism — that gets in the way. We will be fighting that for quite some time because if we don’t we will all be speaking Chinese.

2022: The Year of Space

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Science fiction dubbed space as the final frontier in 1966. But in a time that resembles science fiction more than the previous centuries of industrial based, is space still the final frontier?

     The building blocks for the general public to reach space began back in October 1957 with the launch of the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik. Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, went into orbit a few months later on Jan. 31, 1958. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. In April 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

     Fast forward to 2020, and space exploration was still reserved for scientists and astronauts. Last year’s advances made space attainable for those with big names backed by a big bank account. While seeing celebrities on their way to touch the stars was exciting, that was just the beginning according to the Space Foundation. In fact, 2022 is poised to be the most aggressive year for space exploration – ever.

Fast Facts

Ninety countries are operating in space in January 2022.

Eight countries are consistently launching and can obtain orbital access.

Thirteen companies that regularly launched have recently reached orbital space or have acquired companies with orbital launch capability.

Six companies are very close to launch debuts (most planned for 2022).


     We traditionally think of space advances being created by the government or military. However, after policies and government investment changes, commercial companies were allowed to contribute and provide services to the federal government, military and general public.

     “So many entrepreneurs and innovators are coming to the table,” said Rich Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Outreach at the Space Foundation. “Everybody always thinks of the space race as to how it started. This isn’t so much a space race as it is space races. There are so many adventures that are happening in civil, commercial and research areas in space. There is no one size fits all opportunity or access point for space anymore.”

     When the Space Foundation started in the mid-1980s, we were in the era of the shuttle and commercial space was something that people thought about but never fully bought into. Now, the shuttle is parked as a museum exhibit and commercial space is here.

     “We now have more means to access orbital space and put astronauts and others into space than at any other time,” Cooper said. “This is an evolution that is the result of commercial, civil government as well as military investment. They’re all building off of the lessons learned and experiences of those before them. What we’re seeing with the commercial arena is they’re offering opportunities to do things a whole lot different, a whole lot better and doing things in far more novel fashion than we ever might have imagined possible.”

2021 At A Glance

— Private citizens made it to space via commercial efforts by Virgin Galactic (one flight, suborbital), Blue Origin (two flights, suborbital) and SpaceX (one flight with Inspiration4 crew, orbital).

— Had the highest number of orbital space launches in history, narrowly surpassing 1967.

— The global space economy grew to $447 billion in 2020 and even grew in employment opportunities in 2021.

— James Webb Space Telescope launched on Christmas Day and will open a whole new chapter in astronomy and our greater understanding of our universe.


     In 2021, five systems allowed people to access space — Russian Soyuz vehicles, Chinese Shenzhou-13, SpaceX Dragon, Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic’s system. 

This year, they will all fly again with two additional systems being put forward — NASA’s Orion and Boeing’s Starliner. According to Cooper, after Boeing and NASA get their test runs in, Sierra Space, a subsidiary company for Sierra Nevada Corporation, is looking to human-rate their spaceplane to carry crew and supplies to the International Space Station. 

     “This past year, we saw three different launch vehicles carry the public into space in three very different fashions,” Cooper said. “The exciting part about this is the diversity of players, opportunity and means create competition and choices. Whenever you have those in a marketplace, that’s good for consumers. The consumer is not just a taxpayer, it’s a corporate leader, an investor, an inventor and a critical infrastructure. All those people are now playing in this arena. There is no more dynamic marketplace than space.”

     The space marketplace is comprised of more countries, companies and citizens than ever before. This leads to more reasonable prices for reaching space orbit.

     “The revolution that has occurred over the past 10 to 15 years in bringing the cost down to access space cannot be ignored,” he said. “The cost has always been quite significant. When you develop new means and additional launch systems that can launch in a cheaper fashion, that brings the cost down. If you bring the cost down, that creates more access and opportunity for others.” 

     Depending on which company you ride with, a space ticket ranges from $450,000 to tens of millions of dollars.

     “When commercial air travel first started in this country, it had what was then significant price tags, but when more players got into that market, the price came down,” Cooper said. “That allowed more people to travel, expansion of that industry to contribute to even more jobs and expansion in the economy. I have no doubt, I think the same thing will happen here.”

     Today, space is a $447 billion global marketplace and is projected to become a $1 trillion economy within the next decade.

     “As more countries and companies put forward different launch vehicles and launch systems, you’re going to have new markets unfold,” he said. “That’s good for everybody because it creates jobs, enhances the demand for those products and services which allows for economic expansion and provides value-added to the lives of not just employees and customers, but to the larger community that these things are impacting. That can’t be understated.”

     This success shines a light on another obstacle: how to find a talented workforce to satisfy the demand. There have been a several companies that have several thousand job openings that they have not been able to fill due to a lack of quality applicants. 

     “These jobs come in all shapes and sizes with lots of different demands upon them, but making sure that each of those workers is adept and skilled enough to do those things is critically important,” Cooper said, noting the Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation is working to help solve this dilemma. “We are working with education leaders from top to bottom and various stakeholders to make sure we are doing the things we can to build that pipeline of talent that will deliver the workforce that we need to not only generate the $1 trillion economy but fulfill all the other bolder missions that we imagine.”

2022 Forecast

— NASA is scheduled to launch its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule. SpaceX is preparing to launch its newest spacecraft, Starliner, for an orbital flight in early 2022. Boeing is scheduled to launch its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station in
May 2022. 

— At least 10 companies are slated to test new orbital rocket systems or spacecraft, which will almost double the number of companies capable of reaching orbit.

— Once the James Webb Space Telescope reaches L2 (Lagrange point 2) and is unfolded and operational, we will get our first images and information about the furthest reaches and earliest moments of our universe.


According to Cooper, space is a critical infrastructure that every infrastructure is connected to — transportation, health, food and agriculture, supply chain and public safety. 

     “All of those critical infrastructures are dependent on GPS. If you don’t have space, you don’t have GPS. It’s all about dependence,” he said. “It’s having the connectivity; it’s having the information that it reveals. It’s being able to maintain all of the secure communications that we need for not just military and national security efforts, but financial transactions. The transmission of information for public health needs or whatever else it might be.”

     This dependency will only increase over time with new technologies being developed.

     “If you take space away, yes, people could ride a horse or bike or drive a car that doesn’t have GPS systems in it. But let’s face facts, the utilization of those technological enhancements has made for safer, more efficient and more effective transportation across the board,” he said. “That’s the force multiplier and value-added that space can bring not just to the transportation and supply chain, but to every other infrastructure.”

     Thus, if those lines of connectivity are severed, it breaks the communication and the access is removed.  

     “You are certainly creating more risk and more threat to the success of jobs, operations and missions,” he said. “You’re compromising the security and the future benefits by removing that force multiplier. Space is a force multiplier that allows every infrastructure to do what it needs to do as it matures to the next level.

     “A day without space would have grave repercussions to both the national security and economic security of the countries on this planet,” Cooper said.


     The Space Foundation is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1983, that offers a gateway to education, information and collaboration for space exploration and space-inspired industries.

     1. A trusted source for information. Before Covid, the foundation would bring about 15,000 people together to share what’s going on in civil, commercial and military affairs, what’s happening with space, let alone the new technologies, investments and activities that were going on. But the symposium is just part of that.

     “Since we started our Center for Innovation and Education, we have been working to create what we call a lifelong learning culture that helps create that next generation of workforce that can satisfy the demands and jobs that need to be fulfilled,” Cooper said. “Space Force in many ways begins in a classroom, and if you don’t have the talent and aren’t giving teachers and educators the resources they need to develop that talent, they’re not going to be able to execute on the missions that you need them to do to provide for economic opportunity or national security which are critical to the success of this country and every other country on the planet.”

     2. A resource for education. Space Foundation’s ability to convene civil, commercial and military research parties together in a collaborative environment, allows them to help those organizations build relationships to do the next great things that they’re doing. 

     “We take the opportunity at Space Foundation to also pause and identify technologies that were developed for space that provide benefit to life here on Earth and help the public better understand and be more space aware of how space serves their day-to-day needs,” Cooper said. “Our Space Certification program and our Space Technology Hall of Fame identify the technologies that were developed for space and have transformed life on this planet, whether that be high-performance computing, whether that again be public health, satellite radio or broadband capacities. These are all things that came out of the space community that contributes to life here on Earth.”

     3. We are a collaborator in bringing different parties to the table. The foundation “executes a broad program of global engagement across all enterprises supporting global corporate members and ensuring a significant global presence.”

     “We at Space Foundation act as a global steward to make sure people understand what space is, the value it brings to them and the benefits it brings to life here on Earth,” Cooper said. “It is a privilege and an honor to be a steward of the global space community and help tell its story.

     “Space exploration is just one facet of today’s space environment. We certainly love the exploration and herald it, but it is one part of a multichapter story that is all being written at the same time,” he said. “There’s not just one story with space. There’s a multitude of them, and there are going to be even more multitudes. We’re in the opening chapters of this, and if you can’t get excited about that, I don’t know what else I can do for you.”

Daedalians In Space

Celebrating the pioneers of the final frontier

By: Ms. Taylor E. Watson, Order of Daedalians Operations Officer

For over 60 years, the Daedalians have accepted and welcomed leaders in the development of American space power into our organization. Since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created in July 1958, we have celebrated the achievements of those risking their lives for the benefit of all mankind through exploration on the final frontier.


Project Mercury was the first U.S. program to put humans in space. On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class. The “Original Seven” Mercury astronauts — Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper — were invited to become life members in the Order of Daedalians and were inducted on June 9, 1961. They all received the Pioneer Astronaut Award from the Order. During the program’s 25 flights from 1961-1963, astronaut and retired Marine Col. John Glenn, Daedalian Life Member #4134, made history by becoming the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth aboard the Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962. He wrote to the Daedalians following his mission saying, “Many things were learned from this and from the earlier flights of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. Each flight is a stepping-stone in our ever-expanding manned flight research programs.” Glenn was honored by the Daedalians for his return to space on the shuttle Discovery on Oct. 29, 1998. At 77 years old, he became the oldest person to reach Earth orbit where he was the subject of several studies on aging.


In 1966, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, Daedalian Life Member #559, piloted Gemini VI and helped pioneer the techniques and theory for practical space rendezvous. He received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy twice for these accomplishments. He began his career as a fighter-interceptor pilot, entered Experimental Test Pilot School in 1958 and served as an astronaut from 1962 until 1975, logging 507 hours 43 minutes of space flight. In the 1970s, U.S.-Soviet political tensions that had accelerated the space race began to thaw. On July 17, 1975, the NASA Apollo capsule docked with the Soviet Soyuz capsule and Apollo Commander Stafford shook hands with Soyuz Commander Alexei A. Leonov, signifying the nations’ partnership on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. In his later career, he directed the start of the F-117 Stealth program and initial specs for the B-2. He also was part of the F-16 Weapon System Program Office team that received the Daedalian Weapon System Award in 1978. Stafford has also received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom.


In July of 1982, Mr. Christopher Kraft, former director of Johnson Space Center, was invited to join the Daedalians as an Honorary Member, becoming effective in February 1983. Kraft was involved in the manned space program beginning in 1945 with his contribution in the field of aeronautical flight research at NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). As part of the Space Task Group, he served as the flight director for all the Mercury missions and many of the Gemini missions. He became the director of NASA in 1972, a post he held until August 1982 after successfully seeing the space shuttle program through its orbital flight test phase. NASA’s space shuttle fleet consisting of Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew 135 missions and carried 355 different people to space over a 30-year period. The space shuttle was humanity’s first reusable spacecraft. The shuttle program conducted cutting-edge research we continue to reap the benefits of and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. Tragically, NASA lost two crews of seven in the 1986 Challenger accident and the 2003 Columbia accident.


Retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, Daedalian Life Member #8835, made history as the first female pilot aboard STS-63 for which she received the Harmon Trophy, and she was the first female commander of a Space Shuttle aboard STS-93. Of her four missions, STS-114 was the “return to flight” following the loss of Columbia, testing safety improvements and resupplying the International Space Station. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the Space Shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver to confirm there was no debris-related damage to the shuttle’s underbelly. Collins, one of America’s first female military pilots, has been a Daedalian since 1983. An active supporter of the organization throughout her entire career and currently, she is also a recipient of the Daedalian Distinguished Achievement Award for her achievements as an astronaut, including logging more than 872 hours in space.

In Glenn’s letter of invitation to join the Order of Daedalians from retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Harold L. Clark, Daedalian Founder Member #99, Clark wrote, “The name of the original aeronaut, Daedalus, was adopted by our Order because of his spirit and courage in entering regions never before attempted by Man in an entirely new method of propulsion… Today that spirit has reached its peak in the training of our 7 Astronauts to go far beyond what Daedalus or the World War I pilots could have done, and is well expressed as the ‘spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice that places Nation above self.’” In an era when our military capabilities, as well as many of the conveniences of everyday life, are both dependent on and increasingly at risk, Daedalians continue our mission to “Advocate for air and space power and honor those who flew and fly.” We celebrate the legacy of our Founders and those Daedalians who have placed service before self in daring to “slip the surly bonds of Earth…and touch the face of God.”

‘The Best Kept Secret of WW2’ — A conversation with WASP Nell Bright

Interview by: Ms. Errin Phou

     Errin Phou: Can you tell me a little bit about your career path and what led you to becoming a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP)?

     Nell Bright: I decided when I was eight years old that I wanted to learn to fly because my dad took me out to the pasture in West Texas where the World War One planes would come in, land and take people up. I got to go up in an open cockpit plane when I was 8 years old.

     I finished college when I was 19, so I was ready to start taking flying lessons. In 1943, I saw an article that the military was going to train women to fly military airplanes, in what was then the Army Air Corps, for the first time in history. I already had my license and 75 hours of flying when I read this, and I applied and was accepted into the 7th class. We had the exact same training the men did. Of course, at that time of Pearl Harbor, the military was very short of pilots and needed all the pilots they could get. 

     So it was quite an honor for us, as women, to get to fly the military airplanes. There were 25,000 women that applied, and of that, 1,800 were accepted and out of that, 1,074 graduated and got our wings.

WASP Nell Bright

     I believe 57 graduated in our class, and I was chosen among 20 to go to B-25 transition school, the medium bomber. Most women hadn’t flown the B-25 before that.

     After we were approved for training, we were stationed at Sweetwater, TX, and went through primary, basic and advanced there. Then the 20 of us went to Major Field, Sacramento, CA, where we logged a little over 165 hours in the B-25 and got our first pilot rating.

     We were sent to Biggs Field in El Paso, TX, to a tow-target squadron to tow targets and do other kinds of missions like searchlight mission strike and so forth to train the men that were going into combat who were stationed at Fort Bliss at that time.

      Our mission was to fly in the states, so that the men could go overseas in combat. We were not allowed to go out of the United States, so we picked up a lot of the flying that the men always did here. We were promised that we would be militarized — we were technically civil service that would be militarized when we finished our training. But that didn’t happen.

     In 1944, Congress had voted, by three votes, that we didn’t deserve to be militarized, so we were deactivated in December ’44, and our records were frozen for 30 years. We finally got our veterans status in 1977 when they decided that they would start training women to fly military airplanes again.The publicity they put out stated for the first time in history, women were going to learn to fly military airplanes. Well, we didn’t appreciate that at all. So we started things through Congress, and that’s how we got our military status and veteran benefits after 30 years.

     We felt we were serving our country. They needed us at that time. It was a wonderful experience for us to fly the military airplanes because they were, of course, a lot bigger than what we’d flown before.

I was checked out in 11 of the military airplanes because we had to fly different airplanes for different missions that we flew in the tow-target squadron.

     We had a wonderful time. It was something we felt was needed at the time and a little unusual, I guess. It took quite a while for people to realize there were women pilots in WW2. A lot of people still don’t know it. We are the best kept secret of WW2. There are only about 25 left out of the 1,000.

     It was an honor. It takes a few years to realize how much of an honor it really was.

We felt we were serving our country and doing something necessary, but it was also a challenge for us to show that the women could fly the same airplanes and do our job in that field also.

     EP: What were some of the challenges you experienced?

     NB: We were already flying, so the challenge was to learn the same airplanes that the men were flying, and to show that women could do the same thing. In that era, there were already some famous female pilots like Amelia Earhart and Jacqueline Cochran, who was our commanding officer for the whole group. She was a very strong woman, and great person. Probably, if it hadn’t been for Jackie, we would have never had the opportunity to do this. 

     We felt we were serving our country and doing something necessary, but it was also a challenge for us to show that the women could fly the same airplanes and do our job in that field also.

     EP: What were your day-to-day tasks like?

     NB: During training, we flew in the mornings. Our classes had two flights. Flight 1 would fly in the morning, attend ground school in the afternoon, and instrument training in the evenings. The next week, we would do the opposite. We did night flying and instrument training so we would have our instrument rating when we graduated. 

     After we graduated, we lived on base and were treated as officers, because everyone thought we were since we had graduated from flight school too, even though we were technically civil service. 

     We did a lot of flying. We would fly the P-47 and the two Navy helldivers, the A-24 and A-25, on strafing missions to strafe the troops that were going out in the desert to teach them what was going to happen when they were in combat. Of course, we didn’t shoot at them, but we made a lot of noise.

     In the evening, we would fly the twin engine Beech, teaching the boys how to use the search lights. They would have to follow us in the patterns that we would fly. 

     In the day and night, we would tow targets behind us, and they would shoot at the targets, and hopefully hit the targets and not our airplane, which mostly they did. In our squadron, we didn’t have any accidents like that, but some places around the country did.

 It was an honor. It takes a few years to realize how much of an honor it really was.

     EP: What skills do you think are important for someone interested in flying?

     NB: Well, in the first place, I think you have to really want to fly; you have a passion for it. I’ve had people ask me, “Weren’t you scared?” and my answer to that is, “If you are scared, you shouldn’t be flying in the first place.” You not only have to have a passion for it, but you have to have a good education for it. Especially nowadays.

     I think you have to have a determination — have a goal set and go after it and make it. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, but if you want to fly, you’ve got to really want to do it.

     EP: What are some things you wish you would have known as you started out in your career?

     NB: I remember being told when I was growing up, I should set goals for what I want to do, and I can do anything I want to if I want it bad enough.

     When I decided I wanted to fly, I had a lot of support from my family and parents. They said if that’s what you want to do, then do it. I think that was a little bit unusual for parents with the girls. I mean the boys could go off and fly and do what they wanted, and it was fine. It was a little different for the girls in that era. But I think all of us had pretty strong backgrounds like that.

     EP: What is your philosophy of public service, and why is it important to our nation right now?

     NB: We have to have good people in public service that are going to do things for our country if we are going to keep it like we all fought for. 

     Of course, I really love the military, and I think they should get whatever they need. I think the military is necessary, and we don’t need a war to have a military. There are a lot of things that they can do, and women have shown a lot of what they can do. I think that should be respected.

     I think there is a large aviation future, and it’s great.

9 Days, 4 Men, 1 Plan: The path to the creation of AWPD-1 and the importance placed on airpower

By: 1st Lt. Nick Nowland, USAF
Daedalian Member #4921

On rare occasions in history, the right individuals are brought together at a precise moment in time to formulate a plan, and these individuals understand they have a fleeting opportunity to alter the course of history. Had you been walking the muggy halls of the War Department’s Munitions Building in downtown Washington, DC in the summer of 1941, you might have witnessed one of these singular events. For during nine intense days in August, a group of four Army Air Forces (AAF) officers feverishly hammered out the air plan the United States would adopt to defeat Germany. Their plan, labeled Air War Plans Division 1 (AWPD-1), proposed a massive expansion of airmen and aircraft to enable the U.S. to cripple Germany’s war-making capabilities through strategic bombardment.

     As fervent prophets of the power of strategic bombing, these four men understood that the Air War Plans Division provided them an incredible opportunity to make strategic bombing, a niche concept appreciated only by a small group of Army aviators, into the AAF’s main objective. Lt. Col. Harold L. George led Lt. Col. Kenneth Walker and Majs. Haywood Hansell and Laurence Kuter as the core of the AWPD, but these men would rely upon the support of other Army officers in the Munitions Building to gather information and complete their monumental planning task. However, the roots of this team’s success lay in the decade before these historic nine days in 1941.

     These four men had known each other since the 1930s when they had served as instructors at the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS). The Army Air Corps was the predecessor to the AAF, which was eventually succeeded by the U.S. Air Force. The ACTS’ stated mission was to teach young Air Corps officers air tactics, planning and principles of airpower in line with Army leadership’s view that aircraft should be used to support infantry. However, ACTS instructors strayed from the official Army view that air power was simply a support branch for ground operations, and the school became a laboratory for ideas that supported an independent air service. Although official aerial doctrine was formulated in Army field manuals, the instructors wrote articles and papers expounding their expanding ideas about airpower and often usurped field manuals as the primary doctrinal guides for air squadrons.

     ACTS instructors such as Walker discussed, argued and wrote lectures about the power of heavy bombers and how an air service could mass them into large air wings to strike crippling blows against enemy industries. He argued that relegating aircraft to infantry support roles wasted the true potential of military aviation, and detracted from its most powerful mission: aerial bombardment. Walker’s lecture built upon the works of previous ACTS instructors such as Maj. William Sherman, author of the 1920 book, “Air Warfare,” who had boldly argued that the bomber was the ultimate air weapon that could knock out enemy cities. Walker and his fellow instructors also believed that an independent air branch would provide aviators with the doctrinal and organizational freedom to pursue aerial bombardment, and thus their push for heavy bombers paralleled their support for a separate air service. Although many ACTS instructors in the 1930s were radical in the eyes of the Army, they were standing on the shoulders of airmen who had been arguing for a stronger, more independent air branch since the end of World War I. 

     George had been another vocal ACTS instructor and prepared detailed lectures arguing that bombers should be unleashed on the enemy’s heartland, not to attack cities and kill civilians, but instead to debilitate enemy factories, oil refineries and power-producing plants. Living in an America rocked by the Great Depression, George and his compatriots witnessed the far-reaching negative repercussions that factory shutdowns had on the American economy. ACTS instructors even had to stop flying for a period of time when the sole factory that produced a key part of their aircrafts’ propeller mechanism was flooded and temporarily closed. To the thinkers at the ACTS, modern economies looked fragile, inflexible and vulnerable to bottlenecks. They envisioned economies as spider webs whose branches were interlinked and interdependent. The factories and plants that constituted this spider web appeared to be exposed targets for aircraft, and ACTS instructors believed that if bombers could destroy key nodes in enemies’s complex economies, they could bring the war-making capabilities of those nations to a standstill. ACTS aviators developed these ideas into the “Industrial Web Theory,” and this concept eventually formed the foundation of AWPD-1.

     Throughout the 1930s, the Army increasingly treated these air power proponents as insurgents — men whose disruptive ideas would only disturb the traditional Army and Navy status quo. The Army remembered the embarrassing court martial of Billy Mitchell and the poor press it generated. Moreover, the Great Depression was a time of lean budgets for the military, and the Army spent very little money on aviation. Between 1919 and 1941, the Army spent, on average, less than 12% of its budget on the Air Corps, and during a low point in 1924, provided less than 5% of its budget to aviation. In 1932, Army Chief of Staff Douglas McArthur neatly summed up Army leadership’s antipathy towards airpower when he stated he supported the abolition of all military airpower as “money spent on aviation was money thrown away.”

George realized this was an incredible opportunity for aviators to plan an air strategy largely separate from ground forces …

     The Army Air Corps meager budget meant that the ACTS intellectuals lacked the aircraft and training opportunities to test their theories. Besides a handful of bombing exercises in the ’20s and ’30s and a yearly bombing competition at Langley Field, aviators had no opportunities to test basic components of their theories, such as bombing accuracy in adverse weather conditions, the effectiveness of anti-aircraft fire at different altitudes or the destructiveness of various bomb weights on diverse targets. Unable to afford modern aircraft, ACTS thinkers developed theories based off limited testing and academic projections of aircraft technology’s future progress. In the mid-to-late 1930s, information from the Japanese bombing efforts in China and the German and Spanish air campaigns of the Spanish Civil War did reach American airpower thinkers, and the ACTS incorporated some information from these wars into their writings. Modern historians and military thinkers have written critically of the flaws in these early American airmen’s theories; however, this author believes that modern Air Force thinkers would be absolutely crippled with indecision and anxiety if they were forced to build doctrine and make choices with the scarcity of information and funding that air power advocates faced in the pre-World War II years.

     However, during the late 1930s the status quo among the military branches was shifting and the days of scarce funding were coming to an end by 1941. Multiple variables contributed to this changing climate, including the establishment of a General Headquarters Air Force (GHQ) in 1935 that provided more independence for aviation in the Army and the appointment of airpower-convert Gen. George C. Marshall as Chief of Staff of the Army in 1939. He subsequently promoted several airmen, including Maj. Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, onto his staff and then authorized Arnold to create and lead the Army Air Forces in June 1941. The AAF was effectively an autonomous air branch in the Army. Arnold led an air staff to manage the AAF, and created the AWPD as the planning organ of that staff. Thus, in July 1941, George found himself in the stifling hot Munitions Building in downtown DC, gathering old colleagues from the ACTS into his planning shop.

     Less than one month later, Arnold presented the AWPD with a massive task. On July 9, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had written a letter to the Secretaries of War and the Navy requesting detailed plans that would outline each branch’s manpower, munitions and equipment requirements in an upcoming war. Although the president did not specify a due date for this monumental job, the Army and Navy immediately jumped to work. 

     Amidst this environment, George suddenly found himself in charge of the planning section of the air staff on the eve of probable U.S. involvement in the biggest war the world had ever seen. Usually, the AWPD would provide officers to the Army’s War Plans Division (WPD), the staff now responsible for responding to FDR’s request. However, George realized this was an incredible opportunity for aviators to plan an air strategy largely separate from ground forces, one that embraced theories the ACTS had developed the previous decade. He knew he would have to include support of ground forces in the plan, but if he could make strategic bombardment the foundational and foremost mission of the AAF, he could essentially execute a coup right under the Army’s nose. He could sidestep the entrenched Army leadership that opposed the use of airpower for anything other than ground support. George seized the moment and lobbied Arnold to allow the AWPD to independently create an air plan, and then submit it as an annex to the larger Army document. Arnold supported George’s request and obtained the approval of Brig. Gen. Leonard Gerow, head of the WPD. The frenetically busy Gerow did not have time to worry about the details of an air plan. Thus, in a matter of days, the Army had effectively handed the keys to the AAF’s future to a handful of field grade officers with almost no oversight. 

Thus, in a matter of days, the Army had effectively handed the keys to the AAF’s future to a handful of field grade officers with almost no oversight.

     On Aug. 2, Arnold had ordered George to build a plan by Aug. 12, and had then swiftly departed the country on a secret trip, leaving the AWPD alone to write the plan for American airpower in WWII. In the words of James Gaston in his book, “Four Men and Nine Days,” in 1941, “Strategy, timing, targeting, production, manpower, training, organization, support and basing in this country and around the world — all would be written in the following nine days in a flimsy, sweltering penthouse in downtown Washington.” And they would do it all using paper and Monroe mechanical calculators.

     The air planners focused on three goals. First, Germany would be the primary target, and, once defeated, attention could be focused on her allies. Second, air power would support a final offensive on the European continent, if it became necessary. Third, the AAF would conduct air operations in support of hemispheric defense and protection of the far east.

     George understood the planning assignment was beyond the scope of the four officers of the AWPD, and thus subdivided the plan into 18 tabs covering different subjects. He then assigned 14 tabs to officers on the air staff in the Munitions Building. These men collected information from air bases across the U.S. and worked on broad topics such as: “Personnel Requirements,” “Weather — Its Influence in all Theaters” and “Requirements in Critical Items of Equipment and Tonnage.” George reserved the four most important tabs for the officers of the AWPD: “Bombardment Operations Against Germany,” “Escort Fighters,” “Bombardment Aviation Required for Hemispheric Defense” and “Bombardment Operating Bases.” Further complicating the planning process was the fact that everyone needed to work from the same basic assumptions. They needed to agree on answers to a staggering array of questions like: How many aircraft should comprise a heavy bomber squadron? What would combat attrition rates be? How many bombers did it take to destroy a German factory? How many times a month can aviators fly combat missions? George decided to write a document that covered these assumptions and would act as guide for the various tabs. Furthermore, he needed to complete this as quickly as possible. In a mere two days of writing and discussions with his fellow AWPD members, George penned the collection of “Basic Considerations and Assumptions” that undergirded the entire AWPD-1.

     Basic assumptions in hand, the planners began working feverishly. George had assigned officers to specific tabs on Monday, Aug. 4, 1941, and reminded everyone that the deadline for the plan was Tuesday, Aug. 12. By then, the tabs needed to be complete and ready for presentation. This was a no-fail mission, and the men understood this. The AWPD officers worked until midnight every night, and through the night on two occasions, to complete their task.

     Toiling in the humid, cloying, almost-100-degree heat of August in DC, the planners built their plan. By Sunday, Aug. 10, they had finished most of their calculations and were turning their massive project into a briefing they could present to the Assistant Chief of Staff in Army War Plans, Brig. Gen. H.L. Twaddle. He was the AWPD’s first hurdle in their effort to sell their plan. Twaddle had some comments about the presentation, but after almost two hours, Twaddle approved the AWPD to brief the next echelon in the chain of command.

     What Twaddle did not say during the brief revealed more than what he did say. He did not question the basic assumption of the AWPD planners: the idea that strategic bombing should be the heart of the air plan. This was a great victory for the AWPD, and although George and his cohort needed to clear many more hurdles before the highest levels of the military approved AWPD-1 in the autumn of 1941, the plan’s foundational concept of aerial bombardment was never seriously doubted. Hidden in plain sight, obfuscated by hundreds of figures, calculations, charts and maps, this fervent dream of airpower advocates quietly inserted itself into the Army’s plan for WWII. Like WWI pilots flying effortlessly over soldiers in their trenches, airpower advocates’ theories glided past entrenched Army doctrine to become the core of the Army’s air plan.

He did not question the basic assumption of the AWPD planners: the idea that strategic bombing should be the heart of the air plan. This was a great victory for the AWPD …

     However, the coming years proved many facets of AWPD-1 wrong. For starters, its planners underestimated aircraft and pilot requirements and overlooked the importance of escort fighters. The lack of escort fighters would cost the lives of thousands of American aircrew in 1943 as German fighters savaged bomber formations. Historians have excoriated the AWPD for many of their flawed ideas and explored how subsequent plans revised portions of AWPD-1. However, considering the time, information and manpower constraints with which the planners dealt, their effort was a great success. It provided a comprehensive air plan to defeat Nazi Germany and shape the American half of the Combined Comber Offensive. Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. The AWPD-1 was no exception, but it provided a strong foundation upon which the American military could build its air war against Germany. What more could be asked of a handful of men in nine days in the heat of a DC summer?

Keeping a Founder’s Memory Alive

By: Mr. John C. Mozena
Daedalian Hereditary Member #1207

My grandfather, 1st Lt. Charles R. d’Olive, USAR, was one of America’s early combat aviators, flying a Type XIII Spad in World War I. He had five victories in combat against German pilots and received the Distinguished Service Cross. For decades, our family has preserved and honored the history of the contributions — and sacrifices — he and his fellow pilots made over France. 

     Recently, the yellowing photos and aging historic documents took on new importance as we had the good fortune and great honor to connect his history to his modern-day brothers and sisters in military aviation. This connection to the past resulted in one of the more surreal experiences I have ever had: watching my 73-year-old mother go through ejection seat training at Barksdale Air Force Base.

     Understanding how we got to that point requires a bit of backstory.

     “Papa Charlie,” as I called him as a young child before he died in 1974, served in the 93rd Pursuit Squadron for the vast majority of his combat in France, being assigned to the 141st Pursuit Squadron as a flight commander just days before the end of the war. His five victories are all part of the history of the 93rd. Due to a mistake in his service records, he wasn’t officially declared an ace until he succeeded in having his records corrected in 1965. This created the historic quirk of him being the only WWI aviator to be named as an ace by the U.S. Air Force instead of the Army. (In fact, the June 8, 1965, letter from the USAF Directorate of Administrative Services spoke on behalf of both: “With these five kills to his credit Lieutenant d’Olive ranks as an ‘ace’ in the United States Air Service and the United States Air Force.”) The media picked up the story at the time, and he gained some public attention as “The Last Ace” of WWI. He had always understood the historic importance of the role he and his colleagues had played in the early days of American military aviation, and he was very proud of being a Founding Member of the Order of Daedalians (No. 1207). 

From left, Charles d’Olive, Daedalian Founder #1207, last American ace in WWI; Douglas Campbell, Daedalian Founder #1825, first American ace in WWI; Eddie Rickenbacker, WW1 ace, Daedalian Founder #169; and Reed Chambers, Daedalian Founder #1332, Rickenbacker’s wingman.

     He embraced the “Last Ace” title, which led to wonderful experiences such as in 1967 when he was honored at the USAF’s 50th anniversary celebration of Chanute Field in Illinois (into which he had flown in a Jenny in 1917), where USAF Chief of Staff Gen. John P. McConnell informed him, “Lt. d’Olive, you’re out of uniform!” and then pinned his own command pilot wings on my grandfather’s dinner jacket, just above his DSC and St. Mihiel/Meuse-Argonne campaign medals.

     After Papa Charlie died, the stories and artifacts of his experiences as a military aviator were largely kept within our family, with a few exceptions such as the Fokker D.VII control stick from his fifth kill he had donated to the USAF Museum and framed materials he had given to numerous WWI aviation buffs over the years, including some items hanging in the Order of Daedalians’ National Headquarters. That changed in 2009, when I accidentally discovered on Wikipedia that his 93rd continues to fly as the 93rd Bomb Squadron, with the same “Indian Head” insignia. The 93rd, a Reserve squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base, serves as the formal training unit for B-52 crews for the Air Force.

     I called my mother, Susan d’Olive Mozena, Daedalian Hereditary Member #1207, immediately, “You’re never going to believe this. Papa Charlie’s squadron is still flying.” She emailed the public information contact for the 93rd to see if the current-day squadron would be interested in connecting to its founding history. Within hours, she received a response from then-squadron commander Lt. Col. Joseph Jones, who jumped at the opportunity and quickly dispatched two sergeants in a car from Barksdale to her home in suburban Detroit, Michigan. They pored over, photographed and scanned photos, documents and historic artifacts, for display in the squadron offices and bar.

     Our family’s connection to the squadron grew from that point. We were invited to participate in its centennial celebration in 2017. My mother, an ordained Presbyterian minister, was honored to give the invocation at the event. Later that evening, I leaned over to Brig. Gen. Jon Ellis of Global Strike Command who was seated at our table and said, “Next year is the centennial of the squadron’s first combat victory, which my grandfather got on Sept. 12, 1918. It seems like it might be a good PR (public relations) opportunity for the Air Force to celebrate that by having my mother participate in a B-52 training flight with the 93rd. Who would be the right person to start that conversation with?”

     “Me,” he responded. Ellis handed off the idea to then-Col. Rob VanHoy — now brigadier general — commander of the 307th Bomb Wing. VanHoy accomplished his mission, and on Sept. 20, 2018, I found myself where I started this story, in a training room at Barksdale, where an Air Force major undertook what must have been the most unusual B-52 emergency egress training he’d ever conducted.

     Having passed the flight physical, egress training and other requirements, my mother joined 93rd squadron commander Lt. Col. Bryan Bailey and his crew the next day in suiting up for a training flight in a B-52H. Not only did her flight suit carry the same insignia that had emblazoned her father’s SPAD, but the squadron’s equipment shop had gone to the extra effort of recreating WWI-era pilot’s wings for her name patch, on which she used her birth name, in her father’s memory and honor.

     My grandfather would have been so proud. Not just of his daughter, although that would have been part of it. He would also have been proud of the men and women of today’s 93rd, of the way they continue to add to the history he and his brothers in arms started writing a century ago. 

     Our entire family is touched by how many current and former members of the 93rd have made an effort to tell us how much they appreciate the connection we provide to their squadron’s history, and we are grateful for the friends we’ve made through that connection. 

     And, who knows? I’ve told them that I’m looking forward to my own flight in 2058 for the 150th anniversary — I’ll be 87 years old, and I expect they’ll still be flying B-52s.

From Mon Valley to the Moon: A Life Well Lived

By: Lt. Col. Bill Ercoline, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #5981

Col. (Dr.) Thomas J. Tredici, USAF, MC (Ret)

Born in 1922 in the small steel producing town of Monessen, Thomas J. Tredici grew up quickly learning about the rugged life of steel mill workers and coal miners. Monessen — located in southwestern Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River — is known as Mon Valley to the locals. After high school, Tredici enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and began a remarkable military and civil servant career. He would serve his country for the next 78 years.

After completing military pilot training, Tredici was deployed to Great Britain, where he flew combat missions while assigned to the 457th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Force — aka The Mighty Eighth — in the B-17G Flying Fortress aircraft. He survived the hazards associated with flying high-altitude missions without life support technology such as cabin pressurization and eye protection. His fascinating stories about flying combat in the B-17 aircraft have been published and told many times.

When the war ended, Tredici returned to his hometown and decided to go to college. He was accepted and graduated with a bachelors of arts, magna cum laude, from Washington and Jefferson College in 1949. He often credited his Monessen High School education for preparing him for college. He would also claim that the most useful college class was his dancing class, something he would rely on throughout his life.

Following college graduation, he applied for and was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Perhaps because of the experiences he encountered during his flying days, he took an interest in ophthalmology. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Pittsburgh in 1956 and then returned to active military duty as a medical officer. He served in the Korean Conflict, duty at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and Clark Air Base, Philippines.

He would soon be assigned as an instructor with the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) in San Antonio, Texas. There, Dr. Tredici would earn the distinguished title of USAF Flight Surgeon. During the mid-60s, he served in Vietnam as an eye surgeon. He was then promoted to the newly formed Chief of the Aerospace Ophthalmology Branch at USAFSAM.

Tredici eventually retired from active duty in 1987 at the age of 65. It is claimed that he was the last B-17 pilot to retire from active duty. But he was not ready to quit working, and the leadership at USAFSAM knew it. They advertised a senior scientist civil service position, which Tredici was awarded. He continued to serve in this capacity until 2011, when USAFSAM moved from San Antonio, Texas to Dayton, Ohio. The move to Dayton was the result of the third and final round of the Base Realignment and Closure actions — an action Tom would claim was a waste of money.

USAFSAM leadership awarded him emeritus status, and he continued to work on manuscripts and journal articles at Brooks until his death on April 28, 2021. He would routinely show up for work everyday in the early afternoon and work until late at night. This continued until the pandemic hit. Then, he continued to work from home, while under the careful watch of his daughter, Lucia.

During his working career, Tredici published almost 300 journal articles and conducted about the same number of presentations. His computer files contain numerous other documents, many of which he planned to publish but never got around to them. He never bragged about his accomplishments, but was always ready to share stories.

A few of the accomplishments considered noteworthy are:

  • Served his country in the military during WW2, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam.
  • Considered by many as the most influential ophthalmologist in the field of Aerospace Medicine.
  • Awarded status of Fellow in the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), presenting papers every year for 50 years in a row.
  • Awarded Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award by the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
  • Taught tens of thousands of military medical personnel during his tenure at USAFSAM.
  • Helped develop the gold visor for Apollo astronauts (for eye protection).
  • Revised vision standards for AF pilots, allowing pilots to fly with corrective lenses/surgery.
  • Annually returned about 1,000 grounded aircrew (due to vision deficiencies) to flying status.
  • Helped design aviator goggles.
  • Helped develop the hard contact lens.
  • Developed a new treatment for glaucoma.
  • Happened to be at Forbes Field when Babe Ruth hit number 714 (especially proud of this one).

Tom took pride in his Italian heritage, his hometown of Monessen and his family and friends. He would always weave into a discussion something important about his family and his youth. There can be no doubt that he felt blessed to grow up when and where he did, and to meet the people he met during his professional career. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Gen Chuck Yeager are only two of the more well-known people Tredici cared for as a physician. A photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, displaying the gold visor that Tom helped NASA develop, was always in sight of his desk. The photo is one of the most popular photos of all time.

Tredici’s education began in the Mon Valley and it would eventually enable him to help NASA place a fellow patriot on the moon. There is so much more to Tredici than what could be written in this short article. His accomplishments are many, and his friends are legion. The USAF is better because of him. Those of us who knew him all know we lost a good friend and colleague … and at the same time our country lost a national treasure.

His memory will live on via his friends, family and colleagues. Col. Tredici, we salute you. Hail, Farewell and Happy Landings!

PTSD in UAV Operators

By: Miss Taylor E. Watson, Order of Daedalians Operations Officer

The August Virtual Flight speaker, Capt. Jamal Campbell, USMC, spoke about “psychological threats associated with piloting unmanned systems.” U.S. Air Force Photo/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt

On Wednesday, Aug. 4, the Daedalians’ Virtual Flight welcomed Capt. Jamal Campbell, USMC, for a presentation on his Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) thesis “Psychological Effects on UAV Operators and Proposed Mitigation Strategies to Combat PTSD.” The discussion took a closer look at “psychological threats associated with piloting unmanned systems.”

In an evolving threat environment with increasing cost constraints, the Department of Defense is pursuing technological innovation to maintain readiness and meet mission objectives. As part of this trend, there is an increasing dependence on unmanned systems across services. While UAV operators and RPA pilots control aircraft out of theater — thus are exposed to fewer physical hazards than airmen flying lethal missions from the cockpit — watching horrific events unfold onscreen for extended periods of time does make them vulnerable to posttraumatic stress disorder.

Through an in-depth literature review and series of case studies, Campbell identified key challenges and proposed mitigation strategies. An increased dependency on RPA operators can translate to higher risk of burnout and negative psychological impacts. Factors such as shift work, staffing shortages and overwhelming workloads combine to make these outcomes likely. Insufficient personnel to maintain a high operations tempo and lack of support from leadership on mental health issues also contribute. Additionally, there is not adequate transitional space from a high-stress, intense mission environment to everyday activity, such as family life.

While mitigating psychological impact on military personnel is a difficult task, establishing intervention protocols to provide support and ease stress can improve the situation. Some strategies proposed in the presentation included:

  • Helping airmen develop effective emotional regulation strategies such as affect labeling.
  • Critical incident stress debriefings after high-stress events to defuse operators’ emotions.
  • Conducting cortisol testing and therapy to identify symptoms and help with effective regulation of feelings and traumatic memories.
  • Post-mission questionnaires and periodic group meetings to provide a neutral space for operators to discuss their experiences and encouraging counseling.
  • Increasing recruitment and adjusting career success indicators to attract a greater number of UAV and RPA personnel.
  • Adjusting basing and shift scheduling approaches to create more transitional space between the on-duty and off-duty environment, easing stress on operators.
  • Ensuring sufficient training to adequately prepare airmen for their mission and avoid striking incorrect targets.

Daedalian Virtual Flight members who attended the event engaged in lively discussion further exploring challenges that lead to the likelihood of developing psychological disorders in young, impressionable UAV operators and RPA pilots. Most agreed lack of a supportive command climate, in addition failures to consider possible psychological after-effects on young men and women in the strategy and planning process were critical issues.

A few attendees were both Daedalian and River Rat members. They proposed the importance of creating opportunities to share stories with young men and women serving in these roles. Mentorship from more experienced members of our organizations can help guide them through the combat experience.

Campbell graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and commissioned out of the University of Rochester’s NROTC unit in May 2015. He earned his master of science in information technology management in June 2021 from NPS, where he conducted his research on ways to mitigate PTSD in drone pilots. His latest assignment is the Emerging Technology Officer at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia.