The Order of Daedalians
MILE HIGH FLIGHT 18
Originally founded in 1934 as a fraternity of World War One pilots, The Order of Daedalians currently boasts some 16,000 members organized into 87 flights worldwide. National headquarters are located at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. While the last surviving Founder Member died in 2003, membership criteria have evolved to include active duty and former military pilots of all eras and branches of service. Its membership now spans four generations and includes veterans of every war and military conflict since World War One. Over the years, many legends of military aviation—Jimmy Doolittle and countless others—have been Daedalians.
Because, according to legend, Daedalus was the first person ever to accomplish heavier-than-air flight, it was decided 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. In the preamble to the constitution of the Order, the founding members 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 . . ."
Birth of Flight 18
Denver’s Mile High Flight, the 18th Daedalian flight to stand up, was established at Lowry AFB on Independence Day 1965 by a group headed by Colonel Russell W. Tarvin, USAF. Air Force colonel Richard Randolph served as Flight Captain in Mile High’s first year of existence, while Tarvin led the flight during its second, third, sixth and seventh years. Monthly meetings convened in a dedicated Daedalian Room at the Lowry AFB Officers Club until it closed in early 1994.
After meeting twice at the Fitzsimon’s Officers Club, Flight 18 chose the Camana Club at Buckley ANGB for the site of its monthly luncheon meetings and the fraternal sharing of “war” stories. When the Camana Club closed in December 2002, the flight had no choice but to find a suitable civilian facility and currently meets at the Aurora Hills Golf Club’s Tin Cup Bar & Grill.
A fraternity of quiet heroes
Every current Mile High Flight 18 member is a veteran military pilot whose past or present service to country is a source of justifiable satisfaction and pride. Some have gained wide public acclaim for their flying accomplishments; most have not. Some carry the wounds of combat, others not a scratch. Many were career military officers and some are currently serving on active duty; others left military service to pursue civilian careers. All have made, or continue to make, invaluable contributions to the defense and security of the United States. In that sense all are true, if unassuming, heroes. Yet all say the same thing—that they were, or are, “just doing their jobs.”
Each Flight 18 member has a unique story to tell. Here are but a few examples:
Russ Tarvin, COL USAF (Ret) (deceased). In addition to his leading role in establishing Mile High Flight, in 1982 Russ founded what would later become the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Hangar No. 1 at the former Lowry AFB. He then fought hard to keep the museum alive after Lowry closed in 1994. A true pillar of the Denver Metropolitan community, he was an active member of TROA, the Missing in Action Group, the Air Force Association, the Round-Up Riders of the Rockies, Quiet Birdmen and the Lions Club. He also served as an elected member of the Regional Transportation District’s Board of Directors until the moment of his death in February 1998. His most tangible legacy, the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, houses a collection of his memorabilia on permanent display for the 24,000 visitors who tour the museum annually.
MR Bradley Gaylord, Jr. Currently the flight’s only Hereditary Member, Brad is the son of Daedalian Founder Member BGen Bradley J. Gaylord, USAFR (Ret). He is also a former Air Force pilot, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross as a veteran of 70 combat missions in Korea. He served as Flight Captain in 1995. In WWI, Bradley Gaylord, Sr. was a bomber pilot with the 96th Aero Squadron, 1st Day Bombardment Group, flying the Breguet Heavy Bomber. One of only two air crewmen to survive the entire war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for an attack on a railroad marshaling yard. He and other Founder Members would meet at the base on Long Island, and after Pearl Harbor, many rejoined the Air Corps. During WWII, Gaylord was noted for his participation in Mark Clark’s “North African Canoe Club,” in the subversion of North Africa, and for his role in extracting Gen. Giraud from occupied France. In the process, he would become the only Air Force officer to act as second in command of a British submarine. He was subsequently assigned as Chief of the European Section of Air Operational Plans at the Pentagon, later retiring as a brigadier general—one of the few reserve officers to hold that distinction.
Bill Hendrix, COL USAF (Ret) served two terms as Flight Captain (1972-3) during Mile High Flight’s formative years. During WWII, Bill and two other members of the flight, Salty Saltsman, COL USAF (Ret), and Rod Rawlinson, LTC USAF (Ret), were shot down while flying bombing missions in the European Theater and became POWs of the Germans. All were confined in Stalag Luft III, site of the Great Escape.
Bill Bower, COL USAF (Ret). One of only two surviving AAF pilots who flew the legendary Doolittle raid on Japan. Bill’s crew was the 12th to launch from the heaving deck of USS Hornet on 18 April 1942 and, like most of the others, bailed out over Japanese-occupied China after dropping their bombs on Japan. Of the 80 crew members who took part in the raid, Bill and 63 others made their way to safety after coming down in China; the rest were killed or became POWs. Several Raiders, including Bower, later went to Europe with Doolittle to fly bombing missions against the Germans. Some wound up in German POW camps. Bill remained close to Doolittle until the general’s death in 1993 and continues to attend annual Raider re-unions.
John Thompson, LT COL, USAF (Ret), led a three-plane mission that helped turn the tide for beleaguered U.S. Marines at a critical juncture of the famous WWII “Battle of Bloody Ridge” on Guadalcanal. Barely a month after Marines had captured the island in the first American offensive operation of the Pacific war, 6,000 Japanese troops launched a major offensive to recapture the critically-important Henderson Field. Its 800 Marine defenders were on the verge of being overrun—within 1,000 yards of the airfield—when squadron commander Thompson and two other pilots took off at dawn in their Airacobra P-400s to strike the Japanese. Their short-lived airborne attack sent the advancing Japanese troops scrambling back into the jungle, enabling the Marines to regroup and ultimately keeping Henderson Field in American hands. Later that morning, the Marine general in overall command told John that he and his flight of three P-400s had “just saved Guadalcanal.”
DR Jim Parks (deceased) was an Honorary Member of the Order of Daedalians, an honor bestowed on only a handful of distinguished individuals not otherwise eligible for membership who are elected by a ballot submitted to all Daedalians worldwide. Dr. Parks was a career medical doctor, but his lifetime passion was WWI aviation. He spent years tracking down WWI aviators, acquiring their bios, uniforms and other memorabilia. His magnificent collection, formerly on display in the Wings Over the Rockies Museum, now resides in the La Fayette Foundation hangar at Platte Valley Airport. A Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame inductee and former president of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society, Dr. Parks founded the La Fayette Foundation, whose collection of WWI replica aircraft is also hangared at Platte Valley. In 1984, he helped establish WWI Aces and Aviators Day and for his efforts was received in the White House by President Reagan. His son, Flight Associate Andy Parks, is devoted to perpetuating Jim’s love of WWI aviation history and now heads the La Fayette Foundation.
Dick Truly, VADM, USN (Ret) is a retired naval aviator, former Space Shuttle astronaut, former NASA Administrator, and a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. In November 1981, he was the pilot of Space Shuttle Columbia, and two years later, commander of Space Shuttle Challenger for the first night launch and recovery in the shuttle program. He was recalled to NASA in 1986 to lead the Challenger accident investigation and won presidential approval for the building of Endeavor to replace Challenger. Today, he serves as Director of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden.
Jim Forbes, CAPT, USN (Ret) (deceased) was an SBD Dauntless pilot stationed aboard USS Hornet when the ship carried Bill Bower and the other Doolittle Raiders to their launch point for the legendary raid against Japan in April 1942. Jim was a member of Scouting Squadron Eight (VS-8), which had transitioned from the Curtis SBC-4 bi-plane to the Dauntless only two weeks prior to Doolittle's B-25s being loaded aboard the Hornet. While en route to the launch point, the SBDs were stashed down below on the hangar deck until after the B-25s had departed. Jim took part in the Battle of Midway and in the Guadalcanal campaign, during which the Hornet was sunk forcing her pilots to recover on other carriers. After Guadalcanal, Jim would fly carrier-based missions in the Atlantic, later returning to the Pacific where he was shot down while bombing Japan. In 1985 Jim became the first naval aviator to lead Flight 18, while Mike Hedin, Major, USMC, earned that distinction for the Marine Corps in 1992.
James Harvey, LT COL, USAF (Ret) and James Harrison, MAJ, USAF (Ret) are alumni of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen who went on to complete careers in the Air Force. Jim Harvey was a key member of 332nd Fighter Gunnery Team which won the Air Force's first ever William Tell gunnery meet at Nellis AFB, NV, in 1949. Subsequently, he became the first black jet pilot to fly missions over Korea, completing 126 missions in support of ground forces. At the end of WWII, Jim Harrison faced a choice: release from active duty or become an Army Combat Engineer. He chose the latter, only to be recalled as a pilot when the Air Force became an independent service. His final Air Force assignment was flying B-52s out of Loring AFB, ME. It was during a B-52 “Chrome Dome” mission skirting the Soviet periphery that he was intercepted by a MIG 17—an incident Jim fondly recalls. When the MIG came under his left wing and took position close aboard, the pilot took off his oxygen mask and grinned. “So I whipped off my mask and grinned back. When he saw that big black face smiling at him, he split!”
Jack Wilhite, COL, USAF (Ret). With well over 40,000 hours in the air, Jack flew fighters in Korea and Vietnam, retired from the ANG in 1982 and six years later, retired from UAL. Currently, at age 75, he flies his own Chinese Mig-17F and Skybolt bi-wing in air shows, participates every year in Colorado Rockies Fantasy Camp, plays competitive baseball and softball (he was once drafted by the Yankees), works for the El Paso County Court, flies for the county sheriff, has served as Chairman of the Board of the Colorado Historical Society and as a Board member of the Wings Over the Rockies Museum. In his spare time, he manages Red Storm Air Shows.
Lucile Doll Wise, WASP. Lucile was one of only 1,100 female pilots to serve as Women Airforce Service Pilots flying military logistics missions during World War II. While the WASP organization was disbanded in 1944, not until 1977 did Congress recognize their service as military and grant military benefits to the surviving pilots – thanks to the sponsorship of Barry Goldwater and intense lobbying by Lucile and other WASP. Lucile served as WASP President from 1998 to 2000 and now resides in Aurora.
Flight 18’s only female member, she became a Daedalian in 2003.
Dale Boggie, COL, USAF (Ret) once held the high-altitude record for ejecting from an aircraft when his F-86 came apart at 40,000 feet. Later, he would land a C-130 with three engines out. Today he participates in cattle drives and each year he and his wife take a long cross-country road trip in their motor home. Dale served as Flight Captain in 1977 and headed the flight’s hosting of the Daedalian National Convention in Denver that year. Since then, while carrying out the duties of Provost Marshall, he has been a true pillar—an indispensable part of the heart and soul—of Mile High Flight 18.
TenEyck "Fi Fi" LaTourrette, 1LT, COANG. A member of Flight 18 since 2003, TenEyck is a Colorado native, former airline pilot and a current member of the COANG’s 120th Fighter Squadron. He is a fine example of the type of younger member that the flight needs to help carry the Daedalian torch into the future.
Mike "Fer" Loh, LT COL, COANG. An F-16 pilot with the Colorado Air National Guard's 120th Fighter Squadron at Buckley AFB, Mike was selected as the Flight 18 Distinguished Pilot for 2003. He holds the distinction of being the first recipient of this award, the criteria for which are airmanship, leadership and personal character. His selection was based on his outstanding performance as "D" Flight Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom from January to July 2003.
These are a few examples of the kinds of individuals who constitute the membership of Mile High Flight 18. They are veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Gulf War I and II, and every military action that occurred in the intervening years. Their stories are worth hearing.
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