By Bill Stansbeary
On September 2, the Denver chapter of the Order of Daedalians held a special meeting at the Richthofen Castle, in Denver’s historic Montclair neighborhood, to observe the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The Order of Daedalians had its beginning in 1912 when Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell urged the creation of a national fraternity of military pilots. About 14,000 founding members served as WWI aviators and were commissioned as officers and rated as military pilots no later than the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. The Daedalians also have named members, hereditary and honorary members.
Jerry Priddy, owner of the Richthofen Castle, hosted the event, which also served as a birthday celebration for him. As host, he gave new visitors to the castle the grand tour, which included a visit to several basement rooms serving as a museum for the largest collection of German World War I aviation relics in private hands.
The collection includes personal items of Baron Manfred von Richthofen and his brother, Lothar von Richthofen, also an ace in WWI. Presently, Priddy estimates he has about 1,000 items, including about 150 complete uniforms, and about 100 helmets. He has 52 individual German pilot collections, about 45 of which are on display in the one-time coal room, transformed into a charming rathskeller.
One of his latest treasured possessions is an official copy of the Instrument of Surrender of Japan that ended WWII. The document was signed on the battleship “USS Missouri” in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on Sept. 2, 1945. Representatives of the Empire of Japan, the United States of America (including Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur), the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dominion of New Zealand signed the document.
Only two copies of the original Instrument of Surrender were actually signed. Japan retained one. The other is now in the United States’ National Archives.
President Truman instructed MacArthur to have official full-sized photographic facsimiles prepared from the original for each of the nine signature nations. MacArthur made some extra copies for his own distribution. One recipient of the leather-bound document was Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright. Priddy acquired his document years ago from a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who assisted Wainwright as he and other high-ranking POWs were liberated from a Japanese prison camp in Manchuria.
For more information about the Order of the Daedalians, visit [http://www.daedalians.org].