Captain Orel Mason "Dan" Daniels

October 2, 1916 or 1917- August 11, 2008



The insignia visible on his collar shows he was serving the Engineers.  Also shown is the parachutist jump badge insignia above the left pocket.  The star on top indicates senior jumper.  The shirt is summer issue. Information on the photo from John Luther. To qualify for Senior Parachutist Badge and individual must have been rated excellent in character and efficiency and met the following requirements:

(1) Participated in a minimum of 30 jumps including fifteen jumps with combat equipment to consist of normal TOE equipment including individual weapon carried in combat whether the jump was in actual or simulated combat. In cases of simulated combat the equipment will include water, rations (actual or dummy), ammunition (actual or dummy), and other essential items necessary to sustain an individual in combat. Two night jumps must also be made during the hours of darkness (regardless of time of day with respect to sunset) one of which will be as jumpmaster of a stick. In addition, two mass tactical jumps which culminate in an airborne assault problem with either a unit equivalent to a battalion or larger; a separate company battery; or an organic staff of regimental size or larger. The soldier must fill a position commensurate with his or her rank or grade during the problem.

(2) Either graduated from the Jumpmaster Course of the Airborne Department of the Infantry School or from the Jumpmaster School of a separate airborne battalion or larger airborne unit, or infantry divisions and separate infantry brigades containing organic airborne elements (e.g. the United States Army Alaska (USARAK) or the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Jumpmaster Course), or served as jumpmaster on one or more combat jumps or as a jumpmaster on 15 noncombat jumps.

(3) Have served on jump status with an airborne unit or other organizations authorized parachutists for a total of at least 24 months.



Orel Mason Daniels was born to Grover Cleveland (1891-1973) and Katie Loraine Holland (1894-1995) Daniels in Shubuta, MS, on October 2, 1916. His siblings included brother Ward (1912-?), sisters Hazel (1915-?), Vivian (Stadalis), Jeanette (Scott) and younger brothers Ernest Otha (1920-?), Robert E. (1921-2016), Oneil (1925-?), Leo Frank (1927-1991) and Jimmy Ray (1935-2005). Grover Cleveland and Katie were farmers. They were married in 1910; he was 19 and she was 16.


Orel attended Austin Peay College in Clarksville, TN. Since his second wife served as a secretary in their ROTC program, it seems likely he met her there and since their first child was born in 1948, it seems reasonalble to assume Orel was at Austin Peay immediately after the war, ca. 1946-1948. maybe as part of a military educational program or GI Bill. Since he was an engineer in the service and in private work, he may have studied some technical topic.


Orel Mason Daniel married Thelma Elois McClain, probably around 1939-1940. Thelma was the daughter of Leon "Lee" Clyde and Fannie LaPearl George McClains. Lee was the son of of John William and Lucinda Hartley McClain. Lucinda Hartley was an aunt of Margie Louise Hartley Oakes, the mother of Melvin Oakes. Orel and Thelma had three children, Patricia Ann "Pat", Orel Mason "Sonny" (1943-2016) and Charles Richard. Orel and Thelma divorced in 1947. Thelma later married Lee Taylor Pirkle who served in the US Army in WWII and was a prisoner of war in Germany.





He also married Ann Elizabeth Mansfied, born in July 11, 1922, Auburn, KY. She was the daughter of Earl and Iola Hughes Mansfield. She was a secretary for Austin Peay State University's ROTC program and worked for civil service. They had two children, Renee Daniels King (1948-?) and Holland "Dan" Mansfield (1950-?). Question: Holland's 1988 marriage record in Fairfax, Virginia, lists his mother's maiden name as Ann Elizabeth Mansfield. Ann died in 2004 in Front Royal, VA.




He also married Ann Harper of Louisville, KY. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Harper. Whether this is Ann Mansfield is not known but seems unlikely.


Military History

There is a record of Orel on a troop ship,. USAT (US Army Transport) "Chateau-Thierry", April 25, 1937, sailing from Panama Canal Zone to New York. His unit seems to have been from Fort McPherson, Georgia. He is a Private, CAC (Coastal Artillery Corp) , 6922605. List heading is "First Corps, Area Unassigned.

USAT Chateau Thierry underway in the Panama Canal, entering Miraflores Locks in 1936. This is the way the ship would have looked when Orel was aboard in 1937. Before being turned over to the US Navy in 1941, the ship made over 140 coast to coast voyages.

Apparently Orel left the Army, maybe around 1939.

In 1940, he completed a military registration. He reported working for the Industrial Health and Life Insurance Company at the First National Bank in Vicksburg. His wife Thelma is living at 313 South Monroe Street, Yazoo City, MS.

The Yazoo Herald newspaper reported on February 1941, that Orel M. Daniels in Beat 3 is among draftees who have been sent an official questionaire. The details of the questionaire are not mentioned. Quite a few residents of Yazoo county are listed.

Orel enlisted in the US Army at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on August 22, 1941. He listed his residence as Adams County, MS. His occupation was insurance salesman.

Orel's daughter Pat Daniel Wise and his obituary report that Orel served in the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, KY. This unit was first formed in Mississippi and became known as the Screaming Eagles. They served with distinction in the invasion and liberation of Europe. So many military records were lost in a fire after the war, this prevents family from obtaining the service record of family members.

He re-enlisted May 19, 1945, was released February 24, 1948 and re-enlisted October 12, 1950.

In 1950, he is on a list of those Second Lieutenants to be considered for promotion to Captain on February 13, 1950. It is reported in a newspaper article that he worked for the Army Engineers in China, Vietnam, Japan and Europe during his military service.

In the May 11, 1956 Clarke County Tribune (Quitman MS), it is reported from Fort Lee, VA that Captain Orel M. Daniels, age 38, is taking part in LOGEX 56, one of the Army's largest peacetime logistical exercises, at Fort Lee, VA, April 29–May 5. It says, "Captain Daniels is regularly assigned as a company commander in the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion of the 82d Division at Fort Bragg, NC. He entered the Army in 1937."

The 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion of the 82 Division participattion in World War II: Sicily (with arrowhead); Naples-Foggia; Normandy (with arrowhead); Rhineland (with arrowhead); Ardennes-Alsace; and Central Europe.A detailed history of the Battalion can be found here: The 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion. Captain Daniels participation is not determine yet.

Captain Orel M. Daniels, winter gear in a non-combat setting is wearing the winter cap with the rank of Lieutenant. Unable to determine if 1st Lt. or a 2nd Lt as the single bar would be gold for a 2nd (usually just out of training)  or silver for a 1st which is senior to the 2nd. Information courtesy of John Luther.

Captain Daniels was in VietNam from 1957 to 1966, first assigned there with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For some period before his retirement in 1960, Orel was assigned to Vietnam. This was prior to the war. After retiring, he worked as a contract civil engineer for the Department of Defense, building combat airfields and roads. He worked for the Philco Corporation as a field engineer from 1962-1963 in Vietnam. In June of 1963, he was with the State Department in Saigon, Viet-Nam, this was prior to the conflict. He was serving as an Operations Officer with the Agency of International Developement. He worked with rehabilitation programs in the various Vietnam provinces. He was concerned with self-help engineering projects. (From "The Leaf-Chronicle", Clarksville, TN, June 14, 1963.)

Captain Daniels wrote a small book called “Why VietNam”. He self-published it in 1968. The cover and an inside photo page are shown below:

Captain Daniels is in light shirt and pants in photos except tuxedo in bottom photo.

During his life Captain Daniels played tennis and was a pro bass fisherman. He wrote 3 books according to his daughter, Renee Daniels King. He built an adobe house in Texas when he was in his 80s.

There is a marriage record of Orel M. Daniels marrying Sandra K. Lackman in Spokane, WA on February 6, 1965. This is likely Orel Jr.

The Spokane Chronicle reports a dissolution petition in its April 14, 1978 issue of the marriage of Orel M. and Connie L. Daniels. Again this is likely Orel Jr.


Orel Mason Daniels Sr., died at the age 91, of Waynesboro, funeral services were held at 11 a.m., Friday, Aug. 15, 2008, at the Freeman Funeral Home Chapel, with the Rev. Curtis Cain officiating. Interment followed at Waller Ridge Cemetery in Wayne County. Visitation was held from 5 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008, at Freeman Funeral Home in Waynesboro. Daniels was a retired civil engineer in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. He died Monday, Aug. 11, 2008, at Wayne General Hospital in Waynesboro. Survivors include three sons, Orel Mason Daniels Jr., of Zachary, La., Charles Richard Daniels of Alexandria, La., and Holland Mansfield Daniels of Front Royale, Va.; two daughters, Pat Wilson Wise of Naples, Fla., and Renee Daniels King of Montgomery, Ala.; a brother, Robert Daniels of Shubuta; and two sisters, Vivian Stadalis of Waynesboro and Jennett Scott of Clarksville, Tenn. Freeman Funeral Home of Waynesboro is in charge of arrangements.




Below is an article from the Leaf-Chronicle newspaper (Clarksville, TN) June 18, 1965






There is a marriage record of Orel M. Daniels marrying Sandra K. Lackman in Spokane, WA on February 6, 1965. This is likely Orel Jr.

The Spokane Chronicle reports a dissolution petition in its April 14, 1978 issue of the marriage of Orel M. and Connie L. Daniels. Again this is likely Orel Jr.