In my own words… Living through war: A story of a fallen hero
May 24, 2001
Editor's note: In honor of Memorial Day, The Meridian Star is pleased to publish personal recollections from some area veterans. Today, veteran Bill Stinson (Chief Petty Officer, USN, Retired) files a story on Pfc. A.D. Daniels of Bailey.
The year was 1943 and a young boy from Mississippi named A.D. Daniels had just received a letter from the president of the United States.
The letter began, "Greetings …" and A.D. had just received notice that he had been drafted into the United States Army.
On May 13, 1843, this young farm boy from Bailey, Miss., left his mother and father and was sent to Army Basic Training. This was all new to A. D. as well as for thousands of other young men who had received their draft notice and answered the call to report and defend his country.
After his training in basic, he would soon find himself on a troop train bound for Hoboken, N.J., where he would become part of the 483rd Ordnance Evacuation Company of the U.S. Army.
On the way
Soon, thousands of young men from all over the U.S. would find themselves on a naval vessel for the first time in their lives. Life on the SS Empire Arquebus was anything but like being on the love boat. It was crowded, hot, and many of the young men were seasick. The food was not very good and soon became the topic of many jokes.
The first stop was Greenoch, Scotland. This was the first time these young men had ever been out of the United States and in some cases the first time they had ever been outside their hometown or home state. Arriving by train in Gloucester,England they were berthed for the night and continued the next day onto Dorchester, England.
To most of the men a pick-up truck or a farm tractor was the biggest thing they had ever seen. Now with tanks, big army trucks and convoys of equipment, these youngsters were in the middle of the biggest deployment of personnel and equipment the Army had ever put together.
Using LST's and LCT's, the job of the 483rd was to evacuate all disabled tanks, trucks and ordnance to keep the way clear for the war to go on. The 483rd was in the middle of the war and the morale of these young men was high.
Most never had seen combat, death and suffering by so many, but they kept going. Whether it was for survival or love of country, we can only guess but I think it was a lot of both.
In the days and weeks that followed, combat became a normal way of life. Sleep and food was in short supply and the weather did little to help. With the rain and wind it became unbearable at times and and these young men became even more homesick.
June 6, 1944 D-Day the 483rd was there … Omaha Beach, Normandy, a day we will never forget. A day that will live with us for the rest of our lives.
This day would mark the end of Pfc. Daniels' combat war. He received burns over 80 percent of his body and he had to be evacuated to the rear for medical attention. While the combat war was over for him, the war with his wounds was just getting started.
For years to come Daniels was in and out of Army and VA hospitals for treatment of his wounds. Never once was he bitter or angry about the price that he had to pay for his country. He would end up having more than 80 operations to correct the damage that war had cost him.
A.D. went on to raise a family of one son and three daughters. He became an active member of the VFW and the DAV. Serving as commander of the local VFW Post 79, Daniels became a main part of the Veterans Day and Memorial Day services that were and are now conducted in the city of Meridian and county of Lauderdale.
Pfc. Daniels passed away and went home to the Lord on April 7, 1997. A flag pole with old glory atop was placed in the cemetery at Mt. Carmel in Bailey by his loving family in honor of him and all veterans.
This is just one story about a fallen hero, there are thousands of such stories about our heroes.
Bill Stinson, Chief Petty Officer, USN (Retired), lives in Lauderdale County.