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Col. Christine Knighton

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was born in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1957. After graduating from Randolph County Comprehensive High School in 1975, she attended Tuskegee Institute and graduated with military honors in 1979. Knighton’s military education includes the Aviation Officer Advanced Course, the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Qualification Course, the Combined Arms Staff and Services School, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Knighton also received her M.A. degree in national security and strategy from the National War College at National Defense University.

Upon graduation from college, Knighton was commissioned a second lieutenant and served briefly in the Quartermaster Corps and the Transportation Officer’s Corps. In 1980, she became the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training. Knighton then reported to the U.S. Army V Corps in West Germany where her assignments included that of flight section leader of the 205th Transportation Battalion; platoon leader of the 62nd Aviation Company; and logistics officer of the 11th Aviation Battalion. In 1988, she assumed command of Delta Company, the 227th Aviation Regiment – 1st Cavalry’s Combat Aviation Company, and then served a tour of duty at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division as the Aviation Brigade logistics officer.

Knighton reported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1990 and was assigned as an aviation logistician for the Combat Structure for the Army Study Group. She then was deployed to Operation Desert Storm with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) to assess aviation units positioned in Saudi, Kuwait and Iraq. In 1993, Knighton was appointed as commander of Hotel Company in the 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM) and deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in support of the United Nations “Operation Continue Hope.” Knighton became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996 when she was assigned as commander of a Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion in the 1st Cavalry Division and deployed to Tulza, Bosnia-Herzegovina to conduct aviation operations.

Knighton is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Tuskegee Airmen Association, and served as vice president of the Bessie Coleman Foundation. Knighton was nationally recognized by Glamour Magazinein 1989 as one of its “Top 10 Outstanding Working Women in the United States” and appeared on the cover of USA Today. In 1999, Knighton’s Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion was named U.S. Army Aviation Unit of the Year. Her military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Army’s Senior Aviator Badge. Knighton is also authorized to wear the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff Badge, and received the Order of Saint Michael which recognized outstanding contributions to U.S. Army Aviation.

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers in July 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.187

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/26/2013

Last Name

Knighton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Schools

The Broad Academy

Georgetown University

U.S. Army War College

Randolph County Comprehensive High School

Tuskegee University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Christine

Birth City, State, Country

Benevolence

HM ID

KNI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/23/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes

Short Description

Colonel Col. Christine Knighton (1957 - ) , the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training, became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996.

Employment

Soldier Support Institute

2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion

Army Personnel Command

Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM)

8th Aviation Battalion (AVIM), 101st Airborne Division

Aviation Requirements for the Combat Structure for the Army (ARCSA-V) Study Group

United States Army

1st Cavalry Division’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Company (AVIM

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Christine Knighton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes the town of Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's growing up in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her father's growing up in Georgia, his migration to Philadelphia, and his towing business in New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes how her parents met, and talks about their relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandfather going from sharecropper to landowner in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the first home that her maternal family bought and the lack of amenities in the South during the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about President John F. Kennedy's assassination a few days before her own and Caroline Kennedy's sixth birthday

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandparents' home in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about starting school in Stewart County, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about her family's first television set, and riding the bus to elementary school in Lupton, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about visiting her father in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in middle school in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about state-funded colleges in Georgia while she was growing up, and attending college in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in high school in Cuthbert, Georgia, and her interest in home economics

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about the Knighton family's talent for basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her performance in high school and her decision to attend Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about being accepted to Tuskegee Institute, and her first visit to the campus with her family

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the integration of schools in the seventh grade in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her decision to join the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about Lionel Ritchie's relationship with Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in classes at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute, and her training for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her branch transfer to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about flying helicopters, and doing Ground School Training with Chief Alfred C. Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience at primary flight training

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an African American woman in advanced flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the Bell Huey helicopter and her experience flying them

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about graduating from flight school and attending the Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Atlanta in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment to the Fifth Corps at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her colleague Marcella Ng's career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her reassignment to the 11th Aviation Battalion and her promotion to the ranks of first lieutenant and captain

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as the Battalion S4 in the 11th Aviation Battalion

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the 1st Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an Aviation Brigade Logistics Officer with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her tour in Korea in 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the challenges posed by a desert environment during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the living conditions for military service members during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about Scud missiles used by the Iraqis during the Gulf War, and their eventual surrender

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in combat missions and the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her service with the 101st Airborne Division

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as Company Commander of Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment in Somalia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her service at the Army Personnel Command as the assignments officer for Aviation majors and lieutenant colonels

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about getting married and starting a family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming the first woman in the history of the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation being selected as the Army's Aviation Unit of the Year

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Assistant Director of Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about attending the Army War College

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming a full colonel and her experience in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton reflects upon lessons learned from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about the Army Married Couples Program, and her assignment to Fort Jackson, South Carolina

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the changes in policy that allowed women to serve in Ground Combat

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Chief Learning Officer for the Army Officer Corps

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about retiring from the U.S. Army and attending a Superintendents Training Program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes her service as Chief of Human Resources for Prince George's County Public Schools

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in leadership coaching and executive coaching

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her life and career

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton reflects upon the large percentage of African American women joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her family and about balancing her family needs with that of her career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton discusses her concerns about the legacy of African American women in aviation

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton shares how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army
Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1
Transcript
So, you were assigned as a Second Lieutenant in the [U.S. Army] Quartermaster Corps, right?$$Right. Exactly. So when I got commissioned--when you are in the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], you have to choose your branch at the beginning of your senior year. You choose your preferences for a branch. What do you want to do and what do you want to be. And, you know, so by this time, we had cadre at Tuskegee [Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama], which was a first for us. We had some white cadre members. So, this was new, I think in my junior year is when we got our first Commission Officer, Caucasian instructor, right. And we still keep in contact today, right. He was an Army aviator, right. Our PMS, Professor of Military Science was an Army aviator, and we also had another instructor that was--black instructor that was an Army aviator also.$$Now, wait a minute. Now, did they influence you to (laughs)--$$Oh, yeah. Yeah. (laughs)$$--think about aviation?$$Right. Well, what influenced me, when I went to summer camp--you mentioned summer camp, which was at Fort Riley, Kansas, is where we went to summer camp, and that, for me, that was the first time I would have gone--gotten on a commercial airline, right, exactly. So Columbus, Georgia, to Atlanta [Georgia] was one of the small aircraft, right. And I swore I would never get back in an aircraft again if I ever got my feet on the ground just because of the turbulence, right, from Columbus to Atlanta, right. Much larger plane, of course, going into Kansas City, Missouri, out of Atlanta, right, had a much smoother ride, so, okay; we may be able to do this. But at summer camp we were introduced, you know, different branches, right, the artillery, you know, the infantry, which females couldn't go into at that time; but you got an introduction of all the other branches, right. And I got my first ride on a helicopter, right, which was the Chinook CH-47, in the back of that helicopter. So by the time summer camp was over, I came back, and I told my mom [Annie Lee Knighton] I wanted to go to flight school. And she was like, "Okay. This is the person who was not going to get back on the airplane in Atlanta." (laughs) Right. Exactly Right. "And you're telling me now that you want to fly?" Yeah. Exactly. So she said, "If that's something you want to do, then you need to go for it, you know, do it." So with her encouragement, right, and her thumbs up, or seal of approval--when it came to selecting branches, we had--they also said, "Well, what additional training do you want?" And at time, aviation was a branch. It was an additional skill identifier, right, just like airborne. So, "Who wants to go to airborne school? Who wants to do this and who wants to go to flight school?" So when the flight school--when he asked for flight school, my hand went up, right. And everybody else was like, yeah, right (laughs). Exactly. So you would think with the Tuskegee Airmen coming out of Tuskegee you would have had more hands going up. But I think you did on the Air Force ROTC side, just not on the Army ROTC side, yeah, 'cause most people wanted to fly, kind of wanted Air Force ROTC. Right. So, right, the instructor, Major Marshal Ed (ph.) said, "Hey, Ms. Knighton, I need you to stay afterwards." And so I stayed afterwards, and he says, "Don't waste my time." (laughs) Right. "If this is something that you really want to do, you know, I'll help you and we'll pursue it. But, you know, if you're not serious about it, then don't waste my time." So I didn't waste his time.$$Okay. Now history has shown that you have not wasted his time.$$Right (laughs).$Okay, so were you in the Pentagon on 9-11 [September 11th, 2001; terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, and the U.S. Pentagon]?$$I was in the Pentagon on 9-11; yes, I was.$$Okay.$$Right.$$Tell us your story, what happened?$$I had come to work on, you know, September 11th, just like, you know, every other day. We had--but you know, Tre wasn't--yeah, Tre was still in pre-school then, so he wasn't in school actually. So, right. Every year before that, you know, every year, when--before then, we would visit my in-laws and my dad [Clarence Brown, Sr.] in New Jersey, and we always spent some time in New York. So we had just left the World Trade Center, like, the week before, right, Labor Day Weekend, right, exactly, you know, just doing our normal New York out-and-about touring. So that day was like any other day; come to work, right, at the Pentagon, right, go to your cubicle, drop your stuff; and on this particular day I had a dental appointment, right. So I left my desk, right, went to--was going to my dental appointment, right, was walking by the lab and they had the television on, and you see smoke coming from the World Trade Center. So, you know, I kind of stopped, you know, like, "Okay. Are they showing from the World Trade Center from when, you know, the bomb--." There was a bomb that had gone off there earlier, right, like, a year or so before, right. And then I see 'Live'. This is CNN live. So, it's like, no, this is happening right now. So I go on to my dental appointment, right, and I'm like, you know, the television is on back there, and I'm like, "Oh, my God, you know, what just happened?" And so at this time you didn't know what type of plane had hit the building, so you're thinking maybe it was something smaller than a commercial jetliner. Right, but the commentator is saying--is "No, it was larger than a private plane. It was actually a commercial jetliner. I heard the noise of the plane." Right. And that's what got my attention because we don't have those size planes going, you know, flying over the city. And so my thoughts were, you know, I hope it's not terrorism. And I communicated that to the lady behind the counter, and she's like, "You think it would be terrorism?" But everyone, I think, after [Timothy] McVeigh, and what happened in Oklahoma City [bombing], right, when everyone jumped to the conclusion that it was terrorism right away--nobody wanted to do that because it could have been domestic in nature. So I think everybody was very sensitive about calling stuff terrorism, right, exactly, before you could validate it. And so I said, you know, hey, this is--this is not good. And so I go and I start filling out this--and I--in the meantime, I called my husband [Bennie Williams, Jr.] saying, "Hey, go turn on the television." I called back to my office and said, "You guys need to go next door to the conference room, turn the television on, a plane just flew into the side of, you know, one of the buildings at the World Trade Center." And then I go to filling out my form. And at the same time with the ear on the television, and you hear, "Oh, my God, oh, my God. Here comes another one." Right. And that was where we witnessed on television a second plane flying into the second building. Right. And you're thinking, like, this is probably not a good time to be in a government facility or government building right now, right. But operations continued. This was a short--this was just an annual checkup. I wasn't getting any dental work done. So it's like, okay, let me get this out of the way so I can get back to my building. So I--and I was talking to the dentist, and I'm like, "You know, all right, I think, you know, that this is, you know deliberate. I think that there are more buildings that probably are going to come under attack," not knowing that the Pentagon was a target, right. "And it probably would be a good idea to evacuate government facilities right now." And he's like, "You think so?" (laughs). Yeah. I was like, "Yeah, I think so. Right. I was like, "Well, hurry up so I can get out of here." Right. So we finish up my appointment, and I'm headed back out, and there's a nurse running down the hall, it's like, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You guys didn't hear." And I said, "Hear what?" Because the dental clinic is kind of underground, right, in the Pentagon, so you wouldn't hear what happens on the other side of the building. And she says, "We're evacuating the building." I'm like, okay. Good idea. I was like, well, let me go back to my office 'cause my cell phone is there, my purse is there. All I had was my Pentagon badge, right, you know, no head gear or nothing, right, 'cause I was in the--I'm in the building. All right. So I get ready to go back out and the Security Guard is saying, "Nope. Everybody go this way." Right. "Go this way." And, you know, at this time, I'm still thinking we're evacuating because of a precaution. And then there was this lady runs by me and she is like, you know, smoke, right, the clothes are dirty and the whole works, and she's hyperventilating, and I'm like, you know, "What just happened?" And she says, a bomb went off on the other side of the building." Right. Right. So that was my first indication that the Pentagon had actually been hit as we were exiting the building, right.

Col. Norman McDaniel

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Norman A. McDaniel was born on July 27, 1937 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The son of sharecroppers Fannie Marie and Clyde Oliver McDaniel, he graduated as the valedictorian of the Armstrong High School Class of 1955. He attended North Carolina A&T State University, participated in the AFROTC program, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force (AF) upon receiving his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in June, 1959.

After entering AF Active Duty, McDaniel completed a series of military trainings. From 1961 to 1964, he served in the 23rd Bomb Squadron at Travis AFB, California, and then, was assigned as a Sub-Systems Program Manager on the F-111 Aircraft Development Program at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In 1966, McDaniel was assigned to Takhli Air Base (AB) in Thailand, where he flew combat missions over North Vietnam. On July, 20, 1966, McDaniel and four of his five crew members became prisoners of war (POWs) when their plane was shot down. While a POW, he was promoted to the rank of Major and was awarded the AF Silver Star for valor and leadership in the POW camps. As one of over 700 American POWs held by North Vietnam, McDaniel was released on February 12, 1973, as part of Operation Homecoming. After returning from Vietnam, he completed the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia and graduate school at the Florida Institute of Technology (earning his M.S. degree in systems management). Between 1975 and 1987, McDaniel completed tours of duty as a System Program Staff officer at AF Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Maryland. He also served as Division Chief for Congressional Activities and Acquisition Policy at Headquarters USAF, the Pentagon; commander of AFROTC at Howard University in Washington, DC; commander of the Air Force Survival Training Wing in Spokane, Washington; and as Assistant Deputy to the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (AD,DUSD) for International Programs and Foreign Disclosure Policy, the Pentagon. During that period, McDaniel also completed the Naval War College, Senior Program at Newport, Rhode Island. After retiring from active duty in 1988, he worked in the defense industry. From 1991 to 2006, McDaniel was a Faculty Member, Department Head, and Associate Dean at the Defense Acquisition University in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He currently works for himself as a motivational speaker, and part-time, as a Facilitator of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) helping men and women separating or retiring from U.S. military services to succeed in their transition from military to civilian life.

On September 18, 1998, McDaniel served as the keynote speaker at the Pentagon's celebration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day in honor of all of the former POWs, unaccounted for service members and civilians, and their families. McDaniel's military honors, include the Silver Star for Valor, three Legions of Merit, Bronze Star with "V" Valor Device, three Distinguished Flying Crosses (the POW medal), the Purple Heart and the Vietnam Service Medal with fourteen bronze stars. McDaniel is married to Jean Carol (Breeze) McDaniel. They have two children, Christopher and Crystal, and four grandchildren

Norman A. McDaniel was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.052

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2012

6/18/2012

Last Name

McDaniel

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

Armstrong High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Florida Institute of Technology

Virginia Technical University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Norman

Birth City, State, Country

Fayetteville

HM ID

MCD06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida, the Beaches, Mountains in the Summer

Favorite Quote

Make the best of today because today is all you have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/27/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Dessert

Short Description

Colonel (retired) Col. Norman McDaniel (1937 - ) served in the United States Air Force for twenty eight and one half years, achieving the rank of Colonel. He was one of the few African American POWs during the Vietnam War and earned (among many decorations) a Silver Star of Valor for his leadership.

Employment

Inverness Technologies Facilitation

Motivation Assistance Corps

Defense Acquisition University

United States Air Force

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norman McDaniel's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about his grandfather seeing Union soldiers pass through Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel describes his father's work as a sharecropper

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norman McDaniel talks about his older siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel talks about his younger siblings, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel talks about his younger siblings, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel describes how his parents met and talks about the rural, black school system

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel talks about the break-up of his family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel describes his earliest childhood memory and the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about his schools

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel talks about the military as a viable career track for African American men

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel comments on his high school experience and attending church in North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel talks about the revival meetings he attended at his church when he was a boy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel talks about his interest in engineering and joining the U.S. Air Force ROTC

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel talks about his family members who served in the military and the high school he attended

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel talks about the various jobs he had in high school and his parents' separation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel talks about where he lived during his parents' separation and graduating from the U.S. Air Force ROTC

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about his teachers and mentors from college, the Civil Rights Movement and going into active duty

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel talks about his training in the U.S Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel discusses the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and his wedding anniversary

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel tells the story of how he and his wife met

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel describes the U.S. Air Force's B-52 bomber planes

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel speaks about his assignments at Travis Air Force Base and Wright Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel talks about being assigned to Takhli Air Force Base to fly combat missions over North Vietnam

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel describes flying in combat missions on the EB-66C, a medium-sized bomber

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel gives his impressions of Thailand

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel talks about his experience in flight combat on an EB-66B aircraft with a six-person crew, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel talks about his experience in flight combat on an EB-66B aircraft with a six-person crew, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel explains the purpose of electronic reconnaissance

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel describes being captured by Vietnamese soldiers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel talks about his survival in a North Vietnamese POW camp, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about his survival in a North Vietnamese POW camp, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Norman McDaniel's interview

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel describes the Vietnamese soldier's interrogation tactics, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel describes the Vietnamese soldier's interrogation tactics, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel talks about how the U.S. Army prisoners at the North Vietnamese POW camp organized themselves

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel explains his position on the Vietnam War

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel discusses the ex-Vietnam POW's review of the U.S. Army Code of Conduct

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel explains how his love for his family helped him withstand torture at the North Vietnamese POW camp

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel describes his incarceration at the POW camp in North Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel describes how he was tortured at the POW camp in North Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel comments on how his survival training prepared him for his experience as a POW in Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel talks about what happened to his combat flight crew after their plane went down in Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel explains the types of information his Vietnamese interrogators wanted

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel discusses the number of African American POWs in the Vietnam War

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel tells a story about black and white prisoners at the POW camp in Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about prison life at the Vietnamese POW camp after the Paris Peace Talks

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel describes the prison facility in Vietnam where he was incarcerated

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel describes the food the prisoners ate at the Vietnamese POW camp. pt.1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel describes the food the prisoners ate at the Vietnamese POW camp, pt.2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel discusses the differences in the way prisoners were treated in North and South Vietnam

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel talks about U.S. soldiers' response to capture in Vietnam and a package mistakenly given to him at the POW camp

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel talks about the photos his wife received of him while he was incarcerated in the Vietnamese POW camp

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel remarks on the length of his captivity in Vietnam

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel discusses the long range effects of his capture and torture in Vietnam

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel describes how his faith in God helped him survive incarceration in the Vietnamese POW camp

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel talks about the crisis of faith he experienced during his captivity in Vietnam

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel describes his release from the Vietnamese POW camp in 1973, pt.1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel describes his release from the Vietnamese POW camp in 1973, pt.2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel talks about his return to the United States from Vietnam

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel discusses his adjustment to civilian life

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel speaks about disciplining his children after being held captive in Vietnam

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel discusses returning to college and his career training U.S. Air Force air crew members, pt.1

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Norman McDaniel discusses returning to college and his career training U.S. Air Force air crew members, pt.2

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel discusses his work as Commander of the U.S. Air Force ROTC at Howard University

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel shares highlights from his career in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Norman McDaniel discusses his professional work and activities, following his retirement from active duty in 1988

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Norman McDaniel recites a poem he wrote during his incarceration in the Vietnamese POW camp

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Norman McDaniel reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Norman McDaniel talks about his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder, pt.1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Norman McDaniel talks about his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder, pt.2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Norman McDaniel talks about learning how to manage his post-traumatic stress disorder

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Norman McDaniel describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community and shares how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$9

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Norman McDaniel talks about his training in the U.S Air Force
Norman McDaniel describes his release from the Vietnamese POW camp in 1973, pt.2
Transcript
Alright, so when you were commissioned, uh, you went right to training and you went to California first?$$No, what happened was I, when I went on active duty, I went to, I was going to navigator training. So, I went to Lackman Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas for two weeks for what they call navigator pre-flight training. And once I finished those two weeks at Lackman Air Force Base in San Antonio, I actually took my basic navigator training at James Connelly Air Force Base in Waco, Texas. So, I went up to Waco, Texas and was up there for about ten months. I completed navigator training there and this was then in the spring of 1960. Now, once you complete basic navigator training, at that time you had a choice to either go into navigator work in the transport airplanes as a navigator, or you could go to radar intercept officer training at that time with the Air Defense Command, where you'd be the back-seater of the fighter interceptors that protected the United States at that time. You know, Captain Chaney was the head of that for awhile there in the 70's. Um, or you could go into what they called bombardier upgrade training. That is, you would go to Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, California and upgrade to the B-52's and those kinds, where you would be the bombardier. Or, the fourth choice was you could go to electronic warfare officer training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Because I had a mechanical engineering background, technical background, I chose to go into electronic warfare. So, in the spring of 1960 I left James Connelly Air Force Base in Waco, Texas and moved to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi where I stayed for almost a year, well, about nine months going through electronic warfare training. Now, once you completed electronic officer warfare training, you would be assigned to fly in the B-52's and the B-58's, I guess--the B-58's, or the B-47's. They had some B-47's at that time. And depending on where you graduated in the class, they had a certain number of assignments available, but you could get your pick depending on how high you ranked in the class. And I wanted B-52's, so I chose the B-52's. And so, in the spring of 1961, uh, I was assigned to Travis Air Force Base [Fairfield, California] in the B-52-G aircraft. But, by way of going to Travis, we went through about three months of what they call combat crew training at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California. And after completing that combat crew training in the B-52's, then I moved on to Travis Air Force Base, where I performed as an electronics warfare officer in the B-52-G's, from the summer of 1961 until the summer of 1964. Now, in the B-52's, you had a pilot and a co-pilot up front. You had a navigator, a regular navigator, and a radar bombardier in the back downstairs. And then you had an electronic warfare officer and a gunner position we set up top behind the pilots. And so, that's how I performed. We went on training missions. We, at that time had to pull nuclear alert, because at that time we were afraid that the Soviet Union might try something. And we would spend about ten to twelve days a month--we would be sitting on nuclear alert. And that is where you're in a position, if you've got an emergency war order to launch, you had to launch and be off the ground in two or three minutes. And we had designated targets to hit. Um, we, the plan was to re-fuel while you were in flight, but we had designated targets in the Soviet Union to hit, and you would hit those targets. Now, they told us that we would have enough fuel after we hit our targets to go to a safe landing, but I'm not sure that was the case. I think they just wanted us to hit the targets, because I think we probably would have run out of fuel somewhere along the way. But, um, that was part of our responsibility. And we also flew something we call nuclear alert missions about twice a month, called chrome domes. Those were 24-hour nuclear alert missions, where you'd go up and you would stay airborne, because see, we didn't want the Soviet Union to catch us with all of our planes and weapons and bombs and ammunition on the ground. So, we would fly. And our route, we'd take off from Travis Air Force Base about 5:00 in the afternoon. We'd fly from the west coast to the east coast, fly up the east coast up over Iceland, up across Alaska, back over to the west coast, and fly back down the west coast from Washington State on down, and it was 24-hour missions. That was interesting. One other quick thing about that is that I was sitting on nuclear alert when the late President [John F.] Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.$Okay. We were released in groups of 125 in 1973, between February and April. And, uh, we were released in the order of capture. Those captured first were released first, those captured last were released last. Well, the first release was from Everett Alvarez, August, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, to Ken North, an F-105 pilot that was shot down in September of 1966. That put my crew, these five members of my crew, about 12 or so, from the end of that group, from the last part of that group. It turned out when we found out that we were included in that first group, we also discovered that some of the fellow prisoners who had some illnesses or some long-standing things wrong with them who needed to come out with the very first group that came out, were not included in that list. They just took them strictly by the date of shoot down and capture. So, we were a little bold then. We felt we could argue with the captains a little bit. (laughter). So, we started agitating for them to add those people to the list who needed to come out first, um, since a lot of them were not included on that list. So, what the North Vietnamese did, instead of just benevolently adding those to the list, for each person they added to the list, they took one off. So, a couple of days before we were actually released, uh, they had cut my crew in half. Uh, three of us came back with the first group on February 12, 1973. The other group came back, the other two came back about ten days later with the next group. Now, one of the things that upset the pilot, our aircraft commander Bill Means, was that he said "Well, we all went down together, and we all should come back together." But that's the way we came back. Now, when we were released, we were taken from the prison camp, uh, early on the morning of release, to Gia Lam Airport which is the airport there in Hanoi [Vietnam]. And then the United States--uh, North Vietnam allowed the United States military to fly C-141 medical evacuation planes into Gia Lam Airport to pick us up, to take us back. So, we all were bussed from the prison camp to Gia Lam Airport. And then, uh, there was a little exchange table set up. You had the Vietnamese on one side, and the U.S. on the other side. And so, as the Vietnamese would identify us and call our names, and make the marks on the record, then they would hand us over to the Americans. I will never will forget the full colonel, I forget his name, but I never will forget the face. Boy, one of the faces I liked more than anything I ever saw in the world. It was just such a nice thing, to see a friendly face. So, uh, then they handed us over to the U.S., shook our hands, put us on the plane and then we flew out. There were three planeloads that came out in that first group of 125, and, uh, it wasn't until we broke ground heading out of Gia Lam back to the Philippines, that we really felt like we were out of there. Now, when we took off, everybody was quiet. And then when the plane got airborne, everybody just yelled. The nurses and the medics were all happy to see us. Now, again, uh, I participated in the euphoria and all that, and the celebration, but I didn't feel anything. I knew we were coming out, but I didn't feel a thing. So, when we got to the Philippines, what happened was we landed at the Philippines. They kept us at the Philippines, in the Philippines, at the hospital at Clark Air Base, for two, three, four days depending on what your medical situation was. They wanted to check, evaluate you, see if you didn't have any contagious diseases, see that you weren't so crazy that they couldn't bring you back to the States, and all that. And then after two or three days there, depending on the individual, they then flew us on back to the States by way of Hawaii.