McDANIEL, NORMAN ALEXANDER
|Name: Norman Alexander McDaniel
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 41st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Takhli AB TH
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Fayetteville NC
Date of Loss: 20 July 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 215058N 1051657E (WK292160)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Lawrence Barbay; William H. Means; Edwin L.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The Douglas EB66C Skywarrior was outfitted as an electronic
warfare aircraft which carried roughly 5 tons of electronic gear in addition
to its flight crew of three and technical personnel. The EB66C featured a
pressurized capsule installed in the bomb bay, that accommodated four
technicians whose responsibility was to operate electronic reconnaissance
On July 20, 1966, an EB66C was dispatched from the 41st Tactical
Reconnaissance Squadron at Takhli Airbase in Thailand on an electronic
countermeasure mission over North Vietnam. The crew and technicians that day
included Capt. Lawrence Barbay, Capt. Glendon W. Perkins, Capt. Norman A.
McDaniel, Capt. William H. Means Jr., 1Lt. Edward L. Hubbard, and 1Lt. Craig
R. Nobert. Nobert served as the electronics warfare officer on the flight.
The flight was normal to the target area near Tuyen Quang, Quang Bac Thai
Province, North Vietnam. At this point, the aircraft was orbited east/west.
During this maneuver, the aircraft was hit by hostile fire. Two parachutes
were seen to eject the aircraft, after which the aircraft descended and
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from prison camps in
Vietnam, including most of the crew of the Skywarrior lost on July 20, 1966.
They had been held in various POW camps in and around Hanoi for nearly seven
years. Only Nobert remained Missing in Action.
For 24 years, the Vietnamese have denied knowledge of the fate of Craig R.
Nobert, even though the U.S. believes there is a good possibility he was
captured and died in captivity. On January 18, 1978, the Department of the
Air Force declared Craig Nobert dead, based on no specific information he
was still alive.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
times. Could Nobert be waiting, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S.
relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have
examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the
conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could
Nobert be among these?
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as
reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in
Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically
expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As
long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must
do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
During their captivity, Perkins, Barbay and McDaniel were promoted to the
rank of Major. Hubbard was promoted to the rank of Captain. Means was
promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Craig R. Nobert was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was
Norman A. McDaniel resided in Camp Springs, Maryland in early 1990.
William H. Means, Jr. died in 1986 as a result of illness stemming from his
incarceration in Vietnam.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
NORMAN A. McDANlEL
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: July 20, 1966
Released: February 12, 1973
I received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A & T
University in June of 1959. I entered the Air Force that same month via the
AFROTC program. After competing Navigator and Electronic Airfare Training,
I served tours of duty as a B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer at Travis AFB
California, as a Sub-systems Manager on the F-111 development project, and
EWO in the RB-66C airplane. I went to Southeast Asia in February 1966 and
was shot down and taken prisoner July 20, 1966. I was released February 12,
My family lived in Greensboro North Carolina during my imprisonment. My
wife's name is Jean Carol and I have a son Christopher, 11 and a daughter,
Crystal, 8. I am a career Air Force Office and plan to continue military
My Personal Message: As Americans we have a great deal for which to be
thankful. In spite of the imperfections and shortcomings we are very
fortunate to be Americans. Instead of nonconstructive criticism, we should
do our part to further improve our country in all fileds in order that our
nation's worthwhile potential become realities.
Norman McDaniel retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He
and his wife Carol reside in Maryland.
Sun Mar 01 1998
Greensboro News & Record
Tuesday, February 24, 1998
SURVIVAL IN CAPTIVITY
MILLICENT ROTHROCK Staff Writer
A prisoner of war in Vietnam with local ties will be featured on a
national television program marking the 25th anniversary of the return of
American POWs..... Col. Norman McDaniel.....
Former POW Says He's "One of the Luckiest of the Unlucky"
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Norman A. McDaniel, 62, calls himself, "One of the
luckiest of the unlucky."
His bad luck was being shot down over North Vietnam and held as a prisoner
of war for nearly seven years. McDaniel was flying his 51st mission in an
EB-66C electronic reconnaissance aircraft when he was shot down July 20,
1966, about 30,000 feet in the air some 30 miles northwest of Hanoi.
"If it had been a direct hit, I wouldn't be speaking with you now," McDaniel
said in his office at the Defense Systems Management College at Fort
Belvoir, Va., where he is a professor of systems acquisition management.
"The missile detonated close to the airplane and some of the fragments
punctured the fuel tanks."
As McDaniel's parachute glided to the ground, he saw flames and smoke
gushing out of the aircraft as it zoomed toward the ground and crashed in a
ball of flames.
"As I neared the ground, I heard something go, 'Zing! Zing! Zing!'" McDaniel
said. "I looked up and saw rips being torn in the canopy of my chute by
bullets being fired by Vietnamese from the ground. I landed on a grassy
knoll with nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. They converged on me from all
directions, so I was captured in less than a minute after hitting the
ground. He suffered burns from head to toe on his left side, a flesh wound
on the neck and a sprained left ankle.
His North Vietnamese captors used hard interrogation techniques. "They'd
drag you out, beat you, slap you, kick you, then throw you back onto the
concrete slab in the dark cell," he said. "You'd lie there, not knowing if
it's day or night, and doze off. You might think you were sleeping for two
or three hours when you only slept for 20 minutes. Then they'd drag you back
for another round of torture and interrogation."
Sometimes the interrogators would tie his wrists and ankles tight enough to
restrict blood flow and induce swelling and excruciating pain. Sometimes
they'd tie his hands and feet together behind his back, then slip a meat
hook into the knots and hang him in the air. Other times, he said, they'd
beat him with rubber straps and punch and kick him mercilessly.
"It got to the point where you didn't know if you could make it through the
next moment," McDaniel said. "There were times when the torture was so
tough, so severe, that I felt like throwing up my hands and saying, 'It's
just not worth it.' Sometimes I'd say, 'Men, women die every day, so let it
But then he would tell himself prisoners have been tortured in every war.
"If some of them survived, I can, too," he said, and he would promise
himself, "I've got to get back to my family."
The North Vietnamese tried to torture prisoners into revealing biographical,
military and propaganda information. "They even tried to play the race card
with me," McDaniel said. "They'd say, you're a black man, we're colored
people and the United States is waging a war of genocide against colored
"They knew enough about the Black Panthers, officers being fragged by
enlisted people in South Vietnam and the friction between black and white
GIs in Europe to throw them in my face saying, 'You must agree with us, help
us," he said. "They wanted me to make propaganda appearances."
He would anger his captors by countering their remarks and arguing his
point. "When I did that, I'd get slapped around, kicked around," McDaniel
said. "They called me an Uncle Tom, lackey and all that, but I wasn't about
to betray my oath or be disloyal to my country."
The torture was horrible, and so was the food, McDaniel noted. The prisoners
thought the North Vietnamese went out of their way to find the worst garbage
they could and feed it to them. Only after peace negotiations got under way
in 1969 did the prisoners learn the North Vietnamese themselves were not
faring much better.
"They fed us old cod-type fish with scales and heads and something we called
swamp weeds because they grew them in the wet marsh area," McDaniel said.
"We were given two meals a day. You'd get a small bowl with about an inch
and a half of rice, a smaller bowl of watery swamp soup or some kind of
greens or bamboo shoots. Sometimes you'd get what they called a side dish, a
little bit of pork fat or a smattering of chopped up chicken with the bones.
I never saw bread for the first 10 months I was there.
"Sometimes the food tasted terrible, almost made you puke to smell it and
eat it. But my philosophy was, 'If it's going to help me stay alive, I'll
eat it,'" McDaniel noted. Some prisoners died from dysentery and beri-beri
because they couldn't stomach the foul food, he said.
"When I was shot down, I weighed about 155 pounds. I went down to about 115,
which wasn't bad," he said. "Some of the guys dropped from 190, 200 pounds
down to 110, 115 pounds. That's the way it was until Ho Chi Minh died in
September 1969. After that, our treatment improved. By the time we were
released in 1973, my weight was back up to normal.
McDaniel said there wasn't any yelling "hurray" or any other excitement when
the prisoners were told they were to be released.
"Just a few grunts, a few coughs, because we didn't believe it," he said.
"When it finally did happen on Feb. 12, 1973, we were bused out of the
prison camp to the airport, and boarded a C-141 medical evacuation airplane
to fly to the Philippines."
McDaniel said he felt no exhilaration about finally going home, just
awareness. "We had to control ourselves in the prison camps to the point
that I'd lost touch with my emotions," he said. "I knew things were
happening, but I didn't feel them."
He said prisoners learned to conceal their emotions because showing anger,
hostility, toughness or meanness was an invitation to torture by the North
Vietnamese. "They'd beat you and just wear you down," he said. "When we got
to the Philippines, I learned that my father and younger sister had died in
1968. I heard it, but didn't feel it.
"It was about three or four months later that those feelings began to come
back and I cried over the loss of my father and sister," he noted.
Readjustment and trying to rekindle his life with his wife and then
eight-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son was tougher than the
incarceration itself, McDaniel said.
"For the incarceration, you're there, you're a warrior, a military man, you
have an oath to keep, a job to do -- remain true and faithful to your
country," the retired Air Force colonel said. "Do your job, hang in there,
and stay true and loyal to your fellow prisoners. You live or die. You
resist the enemy. You return with honor. That was it. Pretty simple."
There are myriad choices when a former POW returns home: Stay in the
military or get out? Stay married? A lot of military men and women who have
been separated from their families for seven months find it tough to get
back together, McDaniel said. A forced seven-year separation presents many
more challenges, he noted.
He calls his wife, Jean, 59, "a super troop" for keeping him alive in their
children's minds during his captivity. But, he said, when he tried to
correct his son and daughter, they didn't want to hear it. His son adjusted
in about five months, but his daughter rebelled for years.
For example, when his daughter was 14, she wanted to do something and he
told her he had the right to say no because he's her father. "She just
looked at me very defiantly and sincerely and said, 'I don't have a
father!'" McDaniel said. "With other children having their fathers around,
evidently she had gotten her mind fixed on, 'I don't have a father.'" It
took another five years before he and his daughter, Crystal, now 34, began
to share a father-daughter relationship.
"It has improved over the years and now we're the best of friends," he said.
Crystal was married to Warren Clark in October 1997, and her wedding has
been aired on the TV Learning Channel's "Wedding Story" since March 1998.
His son, Christopher, 37, is an Air Force major stationed at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a civil engineer.
McDaniel said a lot of people thought the former POWs were going to be
vegetables and would become wards of the state. "A few of us had problems,
physiological and otherwise, and a few still do, but the majority of us have
done quite well," he noted. "Those who had close family ties adjusted better
than those who didn't."
Growing up with eight siblings in a sharecropping family on the outskirts of
Fayetteville, NC, McDaniel knew his parents couldn't afford to send him and
the others to college. He planned to join the military to earn GI Bill
benefits, but a couple of his teachers encouraged him instead to go directly
"They felt I should stay in school because if I got out, I might not go back
in," McDaniel said. After graduating as valedictorian from Armstrong High
School in Cumberland County, NC, the teachers helped him get a job at North
Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to work his way through
college. He graduated cum laude in 1959 and was a distinguished military
graduate of the Air Force ROTC program.
Armed with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, McDaniel went on
active duty as an Air Force second lieutenant in June 1955 and planned to
get out after a three-or four-year hitch. He decided that if he stayed for
10 years, he'd stay for the other 10 years to retire.
"When I hit the halfway point, I was sitting in prison in North Vietnam, so
I didn't have much choice," the former POW said.
After returning home from captivity, he went on to earn a master's degree in
systems management at the Florida Institute of Technology in 1975 through
the Air Force Institute of Technology program. He was a distinguished
McDaniel said he feels an obligation to share his experiences with others.
He established a business in Fort Washington, Md., called Motivation
Assistance Corp., which provides motivational speakers and workshops on
motivation, self-esteem, goal setting and personal and organizational
McDaniel, "the luckiest of the unlucky," said he hopes no one will ever
again be subjected to the kind of POW experiences he endured. But, he said,
"if a person's values, priorities, commitment, and faith are right and
strong, that person could endure as I did."
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