Hometown Hero: Springfield vet completed secret WWII missions

Name: James Fred McDaniel

Hometown: Dayton/Springfield

Current Residence: Masonic Community, Springfield

Family: Widowed, five wives; one daughter, two granddaughters and two great granddaughters.

Career after the military: After the military, I returned to Dayton and became a market manager at Kroger Co., (I opened the first self-service meat department for Kroger); worked at Rath Packing Co. in El Paso, Texas, for 10 years; then worked for Oscar Meyer for 30 years in Albuquerque, N.M.; then to Waterloo, Iowa, for two years; retired in 1988 and then back to Ohio to the Masonic Home in Springfield.

Hobbies: Coin collecting, golf and swimming

Branch of Service: United States Navy Special Forces

Did you join the military or were you drafted? Joined

Dates of Service: All secret orders during World War II

Deployments/Bases: All secret orders

What did you do in the service? Armed guard frogman — demolition; transported troops to overseas ports in all countries; took tanks, trucks and ammo to overseas ports; took bomb sites to Belgian Congo (first sea-going vessel up the Congo); took special forces troops to ports to defuse bombs.

What did you gain from serving in the military? It was my first time out of Dayton, Ohio. I remember a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; first time on a ship, saw many countries and ports on five different oceans; I am grateful to be alive at 91. I got to see a lot of the world and I met a lot of wonderful people.

What do you remember most about your service? No medals, no Purple Heart (spent six weeks in St. Albans Hospital in New York), no National Defense ribbon, no campaign or battle stars, no commendations. My records were lost three times and I carried them with me. I had no chance of being given a higher rank.

What stands out as something memorable? It was all memorable, but it would have been nice to have been able to share my experiences with others when I returned home, and of course, I was not allowed to do that.

What would you like readers to know about your military experience? I was a Gunners-Mate 3rd Class. I served in the greatest Navy in the world; we helped to make a better world!

Is there anything else you want readers to know about you that we didn’t ask? I have 30 some pictures that I am not able to show anyone on my honor. Thank you for taking the time to remember a veteran. I swore I would never reveal any of my experiences and what I did reveal has never been printed before.

Hometown Heroes is a weekly feature profiling Clark and Champaign County veterans compiled with the assistance of local Vietnam veteran Randy Ark. To nominate a veteran, e-mail samantha.sommer@coxinc.com or randyark48@gmail.com or call 937-328-0363. Any veteran of any military branch, years of service and age is eligible to be profiled.

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