Daedalians visit Lt. Frank Luke Jr. memorial on Veterans Day

by John Thompson
AdvantiPro managing director

Five members of the Daedalians, along with some family, visited the memorial for Lt. Frank Luke Jr. on Veterans Day weekend in Murvaux, France.

They also visited Meuse-Argonne cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon where Luke is buried along with another Medal of Honor winner, Freddie Stowers, the only African-American awarded this medal in World War I.

According to the book “Terror of the Autumn Skies,” for a brief time, Luke was the greatest fighter ace America had ever produced. His life was made up of the same stuff as great Westerns. His death captivated people. He took on the most dangerous missions of the war: destroying heavily armed observation balloons. He flew his airplane through such punishing enemy fire that five of them were written off after he landed.

Luke was shot down on Sept. 29, 1918, less than two months after he arrived at the front and less than two months before the end of World War I. He was 21 years old. Known as the “Balloon Buster,” Luke was credited with 18 kills during the Great War, 14 of which were balloons.

Luke was the first pilot ever to receive the Medal of Honor. When the war ended, he was America’s No. 2 ace behind Eddie Rickenbacker.

Luke Air Force Base, located west of Luke’s hometown of Phoenix, is named after him.

The Order of Daedalians is a fraternal and professional order of American military pilots. It is named for Daedalus who, according to Greek mythology, was the first to achieve heavier-than-air flight. The Daedalians at Ramstein are known as the “Billy Mitchell Flight.”

For more information on the Daedalians, email john@advantipro.de.