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Our Freedom: ‘Precious Beyond Measure’

U. S. Air Force Col. (ret.) Ted Daniel was the featured guest speaker during the Memorial Day tribute service honoring the country’s fallen heroes Monday.

Sponsored by the John M. Jordan Camp #581 Sons of Confederate Veterans Historical Honor Society, the 11 a.m. tribute “Honoring our Fallen Heroes” drew veterans, their families and grateful citizens from throughout Halifax County to War Memorial Park.

“It is a question that all Americans should be asking themselves. Does Memorial Day still have relevance in the 21st Century?” Daniel asked the large crowd answering his rhetorical question with a resounding, “You bet it does.”

The guest speaker has served as town manager for South Boston since 1998. 

Daniel graduated from the University of Alabama with a BS in Business Administration and Management in 1966 and a Master of Public Administration degree from Auburn University in 1987. 

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the United States Air Force upon graduation in 1966.  He completed pilot training and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command flying B-52D aircraft.  

During his career, he advanced from pilot and aircraft commander to flight examiner.

In 1975, he was assigned as an Air Force test pilot at the Boeing Company, Wichita, Kansas.  Between 1968 and 1973, he completed 267 combat missions in Southeast Asia including 50 missions over North Vietnam.

In December 1972, he served as cell leader for three B-52’s bombing the Hanoi and Haiphong target areas on four separate missions.

During this 11-day bombing campaign, 10 B-52s were shot down over the North, and five others were damaged and crashed in Laos or Thailand. 

Thirty-three B-52 crew members were killed or missing in action, another  33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued.

Daniel rose through the ranks to achieve the rank of colonel. 

Among his military decorations are the:

Legion of Merit

Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters

Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters

Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters

Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster

Daniel retired from the Air Force in 1990.  His final position was as director of strategic, space, and electronic combat force structure directorate at the  Logistics Operations Center, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio where he was responsible for  budgeting the logistics support  for  Air Force strategic aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

During his address Monday morning, Daniel was positioned in front of the War Memorial containing the names of 734 county citizens who paid the ultimate price in previous wars.

“As I look around in the audience today and see the familiar faces of fellow veterans that I’ve met and their families, I know we all share a common bond based on our experiences at war, of separation from family, our grief, fear and of hope. As veterans, we have a tremendous bond with the citizens of Halifax County who established this magnificent war memorial as a permanent tribute to the 734 Halifax Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who have died in service to our country and whose names are inscribed on the tablet behind me.”

He said that more than 42 million men and women have served in America’s military, and more than 600,000 of them have died in combat.

“These numbers seem overwhelming, and every succeeding generation asks the questions why do we go to war and why must we fight? They deserve an honest answer.

“War is an extension of politics. We go to war when our beliefs or our territory are threatened,” Daniel said. “We go to war because we believe in protecting the fundamental rights of man. No war is good, but it is necessary to protect our freedoms and way of life.

“At the heart of America is freedom for ourselves and all nations willing to fight for it. Yes, the price is high, but our freedom is precious beyond measure,” he added.

Monday’s Memorial Day program was sponsored by the John M Jordan Camp #581, Sons of Confederate Veterans of Halifax County. Other participants included members of the UDC, DAR, SAR, Rolling Thunder, VFW, American Legion, Vietnam veterans and other military service people.

Bill Crews, commander of the John M. Jordan Camp 581 Sons of Confederate Veterans, introduced the organizations and special guests, and Newell Butts read a letter from the past.

Grace Elliott of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter 1321 read a patriotic poem and introduced the guest speaker followed by patriotic music provided by Tim Owen.

The Memorial Day service concluded with a memorial floral tribute, rifle salute and Taps.