In Memoriam

Robert Arnold Daley
25 Dec 2017

Lt Col Robert Arnold Daley, Jr., USAFR (Ret) died on 25 December 2017 in a hospital in Dallas, Texas while battling a recurrent case of throat cancer. Bob grew up in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. His parents purchased a house within 100 yards of the St. Theresa-Avila Catholic Church, where Bob served as an altar boy for many years. He graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School in 1964 and earned his Aviation Merit Badge on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout. This early experience through scouting turned him onto the idea of becoming a pilot. After earning their Eagle Scout ranks, a fellow altar boy and Bob were invited to meet with General Robert McDermott at the general's home in West Roxbury. General "Mac" told Bob and his friend that they would both be appointed to the Air Force Academy without having to go through the normal application process. To accomplish this, General Mac convinced Senator Ted Kennedy to send in the nominations--Bob readily accepted, but his friend declined. While at the Academy, Bob was a member of 6th Squadron and Blackjack (21st Squadron), where his legend took off as one of the Academy's most spirited rascals. In one infamous spirit mission, Bob was faced with the challenge of moving a chained-down F-106 parked on the terrazzo. It seems that the Academy's hierarchy was tired of prior spirit missions that moved the aircraft when it was untethered and believed by chaining it down that these missions would come to an immediate and inglorious end. Clearly, the Commandant did not understand the ingenuity and determination of one each Cadet Daley, who managed to get a welding torch and helmet and some fellow cadets to hold a tarp over him late one night while he cut through the chains. As a result of his efforts, the F-106 found a new parking space on the Academy for the next day. If anyone remembers the Bell X-1 ending up on top of Arnold Hall leading up to the Class of 1968's graduation, that was Bob's project, as well. He was incredibly close to his 21st Squadron AOC, Major Jack Espenshied, who was killed in Vietnam after Bob graduated, and was instrumental in establishing the Espenshied Award that is given annually to the most outstanding graduate of Blackjack Squadron. Upon graduation from USAFA, he went to pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas and flew C-130s out of Langley AFB. He transferred from active duty to the USAF Reserves, moved to Dallas, and was among the initial cadre of pilots for the nascent Southwest Airlines in the early 1970s. Upon his retirement from the airlines, he was the 5th ranking pilot at Southwest. Bob served as a consummate font of knowledge about C-130 aircraft and could tell you the status, by tail number, of every Hercules ever built. He also kept track of his classmates from Blackjack and his pilot training class and was pivotal in providing essential contact information for a myriad of Blackjack and pilot training class reunions spanning a period of nearly 50 years. He was buried with military honors at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne on 5 January 2018 with his wife, Mercedes, other family members, friends, and high school and USAFA classmates in attendance. A memorial marker in Bob's honor will be placed at the USAFA cemetery at a later date. Condolences may be sent to Mercedes Daley at 5965 Royal Crest, Dallas, TX 75230. Bob will be missed by all of us who were touched by his generosity, love, and friendship. May God bless Mercedes and his family with warm memories of our dear friend and comrade-in-arms.

(Tim Davidson, Classmate)

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