top of page

Latest and Greatest...Report from the Smithsonian Archives

You may have noticed things have been quiet lately from TwelfthRecon. For the last week I've been at the National Air and Space Museum Archives location near Dulles Airport, Virginia combing through the Burdette S. Wright diaries.

National Air & Space Archives

Maj Wright served as an Aerial Observer with the 12th when he was a Lieutenant. He was with the 12th from 13 July to 4 November 1918. For his actions he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Belgian Order of the Crown. Maj Wright specialized in infantry contact patrol missions (locating front line troops) considered by many as the most dangerous reconnaissance mission as it often required crews to fly at 150 feet through the gauntlet of crossfire in No Man's Land.

After the war, he helped established the Lighted National Airway System, served on Gen Mitchel's staff and even testified on behalf of Gen Mitchell during Gen Mitchell's infamous court martial. During WWII, he worked as Vice President of Manufacturing for the Curtiss-Wright Company. This collection primarily contains his diaries from 1917 - 1948. Needless to say, he's a very interesting fellow who did a great deal for the advancement of aviation in the United States.

There are significant restrictions on use of this collection limiting duplication or reproduction to short excerpts. This requires researchers to review the material page by page taking detailed notes. It is very time consuming. The archives are only open 6 hours a day. Over four days and about 22 man hours later, I managed to complete my review of his diaries from 1917 to about 1923. There is a great deal more to learn about this man but as I was primarily focused on time his experiences with the 12th, it was all I needed. The results were more than I could have hoped for. He maintained fairly detailed daily descriptions of his and his squadron mates' doings - exactly the sort of thing TwelfthRecon was looking for. Among other things, we learned he lived only a couple of blocks from Lt. Wilbur D. Kennedy. They knew each other well and were each surprised to see the other the day Wright arrived at the squadron. Wright also knew Lt Vonnegut from his college days in the States.

You can expect to hear more about Lt Wright in the near future.

Boe Simpson Collection Update

Work continues on the Boe Simpson collection. We are currently editing several of his stories for publication here on TwelfthRecon. We expect to publishing his colorful accounts in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

Lt. Wilbur D. Kennedy Letter Transcription Update

Finally, the work on translating the Lt. Wilbur D. Kennedy letters is still underway. Currently 62% of 92 letters are complete. Only 32 remain.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page