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Daedalian Heritage & History

On 26 March 1934, the Order of Daedalians was formally instituted and composed of those commissioned officers, who, no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. These World War 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…”  Through out our history, we have counted among our members many pioneers and accomplished figures in the history of flight and American military aviation, airpower, and aerospace. 

Today, the Daedalian membership consists of commissioned, warrant, and flight officer military aviators and WASPs and continues to perpetuate a legacy of excellence as we encourage future military aviators. The Daedalians continue to honor as our Founder Members, all World War I aviators who were commissioned as officers and rated as military pilots no later than the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Our organization perpetuates their names as the first to fly our country’s airplanes in time of war. We promote their standards of patriotism, integrity, and good character in our programs to encourage a future in military aviation among America’s youth and among our members who represent a diversity of ages, services, and aviation ratings as they continue to participate in our organization and advocate for American air and space power in support of the total force.

From the Archives

 

Maj. Gen. Byron E. Gates

General Gates was Daedalian Founder Member #7

and one of our 35 Charter Members.

Click HERE or on the photo to view a video of his scrapbook,

one of the many items in our heritage collection at headquarters.

Member Legacy

 JET FIGHTERS FOR THAILAND

Perhaps the idea to bring the Thai Air Force into the jet age came from someone in the American Embassy, the Thai Government, Far East Air Forces Headquarters, or the Pentagon. In any case, the overall concept of strengthening our allies and containing Soviet expansion via mutual assistance was a chapter right out of John Foster Dulles’ book, War or Peace.

After the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and the division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, Secretary of State Dulles made a trip to Manila. The result was an attempt to establish ties and defenses among various southeast Asian countries and the United States. However, the strong words on paper about defending freedom, the treaty organization, and follow on SEATO Headquarters lacked substance until backed up with military hardware.

Col. John L. Wagner, USAF (Ret.) submitted the above story and reflection about his experiences assisting with the transport of F-84Es to the Thai Air Force during the Cold War era in the 1980s. Daedalian Life Member Number 5517 and among our Eagle Wing of donors, at the time he joined the organization in 1975, Col. Wagner had seen duty in both Korean and Vietnam conflicts and had 4,000 flying hours. His piece on U.S. involvement in setting up fighter capabilites for the Thai Air Force is full of quotes and themes that could have come out of a recent policy paper or news article. Read the full piece here.

History Snapshots

In my collection of mementos, I have a small square of fabric taken from the first heavier than air aircraft that ever flew. Just think how we would value a small piece of the first boat or the first wheel that ever turned. All previous civilization was developed as a result of boats and wheels. The aircraft, as such, is a much greater accomplishment than the boat or the wheel. Aircraft operation is not delimited by shore lines or paved highways. The flying officers of the Aviation Section of the United States Army Signal Corps made flying a commonplace performance. More than any other group of people in the whole world, we developed the vehicle which the Wright Brothers had proven to be possible. Our experience gained during those early days was the foundation of the air industry, air transportation, and air military operation. We have lived so closely with this that few of us realize those profound accomplishments. I think those accomplishments justify an ageless continuation of the names of the many who contributed to this great purpose.

General Clement McMullen

The above is the foreword to the history and important papers of the Daedalians, penned in 1953 by then national commander Gen. Clements McMullen. Considered one of the early pioneers of American aviation, McMullen was born in 1892 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917. He began technical aviation training at Georgia School of Technology, then progressed to flight training at Kelly Field, Texas. On 6 March 1918 McMullen earned his wings and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve Corps.

This was the beginning of a long and storied career in military aviation. Gen. McMullen would retire after 37 years of active military service in 1954. He was the oldest active military pilot and commander of the largest air depot in the world at the time of his retirement. Major General McMullen was a Command Pilot, Combat Observer and Technical Observer. He had flown a multitude of different types of AAF and USAF fighter and bomber aircraft, including the XC-99. His awards included: Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards); Air Medal; World War I Victory Medal; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Service Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal for Japan; Philippine Liberation Ribbon with Service Star; and the Philippine Independence Ribbon.

In addition to serving as Daedalian National Commander from 1952-1955, he was a Charter Member who participated in the founding of the organization at Maxwell AFB in March of 1934. The McMullen Award, named in his honor, has been presented each year since 1960 to the wing level Air Force unit with the best weapons system maintenance record. You can read more about him at our Founder Spotlight page here.

 

HERITAGE PRESERVATION PROJECT

Founder Stories

Founder Spotlight

Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker
Founder Member #634

See all of our Spotlights
at our archive page HERE.