CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. –
Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell's vision for a professional fraternal organization of American military pilots is just as significant today, if not more, than it was at its inception in 1921.
The Order of Daedalians has a powerful enduring purpose, expressed by General Mitchell, to "... perpetuate the spirit of patriotism, the love of the country, the memories, sad and unpleasant, of our service during that period (World War I) and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together in that critical hour of our nation's need... "
With a membership of 14,000, the Order of Daedalians supports the military services and other aerospace activities. The organization operates through a worldwide network of chapters, known as Daedalian Flights, and offers a comprehensive award and scholarship program.
The opportunity to carry on General Mitchell's vision is present here at Charleston through the Swamp Fox Flight. Established in 1977, the Charleston AFB Flight was named in honor of Francis Marion, one of the greatest guerrilla fighters of the American Revolution. Marion fought a series of small, fierce and successful battles against the British in South Carolina, gaining his title as the "Swamp Fox" for his ability to use decoy and ambush tactics to disrupt enemy communications, capture supplies and free prisoners.
The flight, consisting of over 100 members, is led by Flight Captain, Col. Joseph Wiley, a second-generation member. Colonel Wiley has the distinct privilege of carrying membership number 393, a legacy from one of the original members who had the same surname.
"My father is still an active member in the National Capital Flight, which is a vibrant and active chapter that celebrates and promotes military aviation and air power," he said. "That is what we are trying to get going again at the Swamp Fox Flight at Charleston."
To qualify for membership, one must be an active or retired commissioned officer, flight officer, warrant officer or a Woman Air Force Service pilot rated as a military pilot of heavier-than-air, powered aircraft. A qualified applicant interested in membership or any previous members interested in becoming active again should contact Lt. Col. Dean Rosenquist at 963-3553.
For more information and an opportunity to celebrate some good old fashion camaraderie, join the Daedalians at their next meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Charleston Club's Daedalian room. A hanger flight "large formation" gathering in the Wing's Bar will follow the meeting.