Reprinted from The Twin City News (Vol. 84, Number 16), May 31, 2007
Daedalians Induct Cary
At a ceremony conducted at Shaw AFB, Batesburg-Leesville native and veteran air show pilot, Fowler Cary, Jr. was inducted into the Order of Daedalians which is the fraternal order of military pilots. The National Commander of the 75 wings representing some 16,000 Daedalians worldwide, Lt. Gen. Richard “Tex” Brown, USAF (Ret) and the membership of the 70th Flight of the Palmetto Wing of the Order of Daedalians presided over Cary’s induction. With members and guests in attendance including 20th Fighter Wing & Shaw AFB Commanding Officer, Col. James “Bull” Post and members of his staff, the ceremony was held in the historic Daedalian Room at the Carolina Pines Officer’s Club onbase at Shaw AFB in Sumter, South Carolina. Also in attendance were members of the CBSA “Stoolers” of which Cary was also inducted as a member in 1996. Cary’s family were also present for the ceremonies and dinner.
After the presentation of the colors by the Shaw AFB Color Guard and a very stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Kelly Shofner, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present followed by a prayer and dinner. After dinner, Palmetto Wing Commander Col. Robert “Nub” Shofner, USAF (Ret) began the induction ceremony by reading the Wing’s initial citation forwarded to the Daedalian’s national nominating committee in November 2005. “Mr. Cary’s love for and dedication to promoting aviation, began at age 11, after his first flight in a Civil Air Patrol J-3 Piper Cub, Mr. Cary knew in his heart he was meant to fly. Pursuant to that goal and military aviation, he attended the Citadel in 1965. However, at the beginning of his junior year it was discovered that his eyesight would prevent him from ever becoming a military aviator. Undaunted, Mr. Cary pressed on for his civilian pilot’s license. After doing so, he has since accumulated over 6000 Command Pilot hours in 26 different aircraft, some of the more notable have been the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Su-27 Flanker (in Russia), and his very own Lockheed T-33 Tbird, the “Vintage Thunderbird”. The latter jet is painted in the USAF Thunderbird’s colors of red, white, blue, and silver wherein Mr. Cary has performed over 500 aerial demonstrations.”
“Mr. Cary intermingles with air show attendees, especially young people, encouraging them toward aviation. He has visited our 70th Flight functions sharing stories with retirees and active aviators, constantly instilling in them his love of country and flying. He reflects great admiration for military aviators and holds them in awe. To quote Mr. Cary as he reflects back on his last 12 years of aviation, “many of them (aviators) were some of our greatest patriots, and veterans have always been my heroes. It is a humbling thing to know that their love of country is so great that they are willing to stand in harm’s way to sacrifice their lives to provide us with the liberties we enjoy every day.”
Col. Shofner speaking on behalf of the members of the 70th Flight of the Palmetto Wing read the recommendation signed by all the members of the wing to the national nominating committee “as a staunch Daedalian, I strongly recommend Mr. Fowler Cary, Jr. to you for consideration and approval.”
Lt. Gen Tex Brown then administered the Daedalion oath, which are the tenets of the Daedalians: to put country above self and to be worthy of the trust of fellow Daedalians. At the conclusion of the oath, the members of the 70th Flight of the Palmetto Wing came forward to the podium to personally welcome Cary into the Order.
Afterward, Cary addressed the Wing, “I would like to try and tell you what is in my heart at this most auspicious moment. When Nub advised me in 2005 of your nomination of me I was overwhelmed and humbled. I told him that up or down it was way more than enough honor that you had nominated me. Accordingly, to each of you I would like to share a quote from Yeats passed on to me from friend and warrior-patriot Col. Bill “Sparky” Sparks, one of the USAF’s first Wild Weasel pilots in Vietnam, “think where man’s glories most begin and end, and say that my glory was that I had such friends.” You are America’s heroes, and you have always been mine. My boyhood dreams were singular, I always wanted to be with you and fly your wing, but it was not my destiny to do so. However, in pursuit of a dream of flying I found out somewhere along the way that it was not flying fast jets that I most missed, but the “warriorship”, the fellowship of patriots of this great country that we all love. While I feel most unworthy of this induction into your brotherhood that you have bestowed on me, I am highly honored and will try to make you proud. Our common love of aviation and country has made us brothers, and in closing I would like to share with each of you a poem shared with me years ago by two of our greatest warrior-aviators and dear friends, 3 time Thunderbird Lead Col. Jack Broughton and Col. John “Wingtip” Wright both air combat veterans of Korea and F-105 Thuds in Vietnam. This poem reminds me of the humility of this moment we all share in our aviation careers when so many of our fallen brethren have “Gone West”, and now I would like to share it with each of you.”
The story is now over, the chapter’s closed and yet,
Written in my memory is a place I can’t forget.
Where all my boyhood dreams met the light of day, and long
Forgotten values refused to fade away.
This place of men and heroes, the finest I would meet, whose
Actions spoke of virtue and whose courage stood concrete.
Where love took on new meaning, where friendship did too, and
While the serious side of life shouted “Attention” at you.
A time for nerves of steel, when shaken to the core,
Knowing all my limits, I learned to push for more.
Because beneath my trembling hand that mighty bird could shine,
But it was living, not power, that was always on my mind.
Every call a close one, any time of day, and
Every flight out was another time to pray.
Another mission over and I’d be worn to the bone,
Adding hope to weary hope that I just might make it home.
I never dreamed back then standing face to face with fears,
That someday they’d be behind me, all those war-torn years.
And the medals still remind me every birthday is a friend,
Cause I lived to read that story from its beginning to its end.
Brothers, I look forward to many good years together sharing our love of aviation and experiences, God bless you all, and God bless America.”
The spontaneous singing of “God Bless America” left few dry eyes among all present with its warmth and feeling. Following the induction of Cary into the Order of Daedalians, National Commander, Lt. Gen. Tex Brown, addressed the group on the basic core values of Daedalians and military aviators: integrity, service (country before self), and excellence in all you do. His speech was warmly received by all present and the values he discussed are acknowledged by Daedalians worldwide as central to the Order.
The Order of Daedalians had its genesis in 1921 when one of America’s greatest aviators & visionaries, Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell, urged the creation of an organization that would perpetuate forever the deeds and memories of the first American pilots who, in W.W. I, were the first to fly our country's airplanes in time of war. Present to hear General Mitchell speak in 1932 was then Lieutenant Harold L. George who, 12 years later, on 26 March 1934, at Maxwell Field, Alabama, as one of 35 WW I Regular Army commissioned pilots, formally established the Order of Daedalians to "... perpetuate the spirit of patriotism, the love of country, the memories, sad and pleasant, of our service during that period (WW I) and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together in that critical hour of our nation's need...." Since, according to legend in Greek mythology, Daedalus was the first person ever to accomplish heavier-than-air flight, it was considered that 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.
At present, there are three types of membership in the Order: (1) Founder Members - those who no later than the Armistice on 11 November 1918 were commissioned officers and held the rating of pilot of heavier-than-air powered aircraft in any component of the U. S. Military Services; (2) Named Members - those commissioned & non-commissioned officers and rated pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft selected from currently active or retired personnel of any component of the U. S. Military Service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard) to perpetuate Founder memberships; and (3) Hereditary Members - descendants of Founder Members. In addition, up to fifteen standing Honorary Members may be elected to membership in the Order for exceptional service to the United States of America in the promotion of aviation and patriotism. Named Member applicants must be nominated for membership by a Daedalian and their applications endorsed by three other Daedalians. The Honorary Member must then be elected by an affirmative vote of at least 75% of the more than 16,000 Members of the Order of Daedalians worldwide.
Some of the current & past Honorary Members of the Order of Daedalians include Orville Wright, Igor Sikorsky, John Northrop, Donald Douglas, Gerhard Neumann, Paul E. Garber, Tony Levier, Ernest K. Gann, Edna Gardner Whyte, John Stapp, Chris Kraft, Scott Crossfield, Bob Hoover, and William J. Reynolds.
Cary and his wife will next travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of the United States Air Force Academy and the site of the 2007 Order of Daedalians National Convention. Cary is the President of CCM Investment Advisers in Columbia, SC, a wealth management firm with over $2 billion dollars in assets under management. He is the son of the late LtC. & Mrs. Fowler Cary and grandson of the late Mr.& Mrs. A.A. Wessinger all of Batesburg-Leesville. Further information and pictures on Cary’s aviation and air show activities can be found on the Vintage Aviation website at: www.vintage-thunderbird.com.