On May 19, 1967, while on his 81st combat mission over North Vietnam, Eugene “Red” McDaniel’s A6A Intruder aircraft was shot down. Classiﬁed as “missing in action” until 1970, when the Hanoi government acknowledged he was being held prisoner, McDaniel was released on March 4, 1973—six years after his capture.
Highly decorated for his service in Vietnam, Red McDaniel was awarded the Navy’s highest honor for bravery, the Navy Cross. Among his other military decorations are two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit with Combat “V,” the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Stars with Combat “V,” and two Purple Hearts for wounds received at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors.
After returning to active duty as Commanding Ofﬁcer of USS Niagara Falls and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, Captain McDaniel later served as Director of Navy/Marine Corps Liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives. He retired from the Navy in 1982 and founded the American Defense Institute, a non-profit organization to promote a strong national defense.