Robert Lee McDaniel

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Robert Lee McDaniel Obituary


Memories & Candles

“To you, the children, I am writing for myself, but mostly for my late husband, Bob Newton, who respected and admired your father almost above all he...Read More »
1 of 13 | Posted by: Linda Newton - Marshall, VA

“Jeb and Nicki, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Your father had an amazing career and we understand your pride in...Read More »
2 of 13 | Posted by: Stephanie Fletcher Davis, - VA

“Jeb and Nicki, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Your father had an amazing career and we understand your pride in...Read More »
3 of 13 | Posted by: Stephanie Fletcher Davis, - VA

“Dad your obituary could have been a tad bit shorter. I know you've never read it. You'd like it though it's full of good stories, some with color...Read More »
4 of 13 | Posted by: Louise M. Dodsworth - savannah

“A limb has fallen from the family tree. I keep hearing a voice that says, "Grieve not for me.” Remember the best times, the laughter, the song....Read More »
5 of 13 | Posted by: Louise M. Dodsworth - savannah, GA

“Godspeed! ”
6 of 13 | Posted by: John A Lasch III - lake Ridge, VA

“The world does not have many men like the Colonel anymore. An inspirational American Hero who helped shape history and raised some amazing children. ”
7 of 13 | Posted by: Dylan McDaniel - San Diego, CA

“So much of my childhood is wrapped up in memories of times with Uncle Mac and Aunt Rachel. He was tough (I remember he used to make me eat all my...Read More »
8 of 13 | Posted by: Ridgely Ochs - Northport, NY

“Dear Jeb & Nicki, We extend our sincere condolences to you and your family for your loss. Your father was a very accomplished soldier and we enjoyed...Read More »
9 of 13 | Posted by: Jerry & Susan Gainous - VA

“He dedicated his life to unselfishly serving the USA, and he served it well he did. ”
10 of 13 | Posted by: Jeb McDaniel - VA

“Remember "the Colonel " well. He kept us all in line during the 70's when the gang would be over at the house on Braddock Rd. Thank you for your...Read More »
11 of 13 | Posted by: Bob Bazzle - Alexandria, VA

“We have lost a Great American Hero.May God Bless him and his family. ”
12 of 13 | Posted by: Donald Dodsworth SR. - Savannah, GA

“Love you dad!!! ”
13 of 13 | Posted by: Dotty Woodson - Fort Worth, TX


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Col. Robert Lee McDaniel, 88, a retired officer of the U.S. Army, veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and pioneer in the growth of modern Army aviation, passed away on February 9th at Inova Alexandria Hospital.

He was born a military brat at Fort Bliss, a horse cavalry division post. He was named for his godfather, General R. L. Howze the division commander, whose son, General Hamilton H. Howze, is considered by many to be the father of modern Army aviation — a connection that helped shape young McDaniel's future career path and contributions. He spent much of his childhood in Asia, an experience that proved valuable throughout his many deployments. He received his bachelor's degree from the United Stated Military Academy, a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he improved the rotor design for the UH-1 helicopter, and a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

His military career spanned 28 years. Upon graduating from West Point in the class of 1945, he served with the 11th Airborne Division in the final days of World War II and in the occupation of Japan. He returned to Japan during the Korean War with the 187th Regimental Combat Team. As a Rifle Company commander he participated in the suppression of the Koje-do prisoner rebellion and other missions earning the Combat Infantryman's Badge and a Commendation Ribbon for Valor.

After Korea, he became an instructor at the Infantry School performing his critical role in Army aviation by writing and teaching the Army's first Air Mobility manual. From there, Col. McDaniel was selected by General Ham Howze to attend Georgia Tech to gain expert aeronautical engineering knowledge needed by Army decision makers. He earned a renowned reputation for his academic prowess studying for this graduate degree.

Upon receiving his graduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he rushed to the Pentagon and became totally immersed in the Air Mobility division of the Army Office of the Chief Research and Development. This vital 1961-64 period included the Howze Board, the transformation of the 11th Air Assault into the 1st Cavalry Division, the new LOH and UH1 helicopter programs, and type classification of the CH-47. His forte was in a wide range vertical/short take off and landing advanced development programs including the Bell XV-3 tilt rotor, the Lockheed XV-4A Humming Bird and the XV-6A Deflected Thrust predecessor of the Harrier. He became a leading advocate and proponent for the Sky Crane and the Heavy Lift Helicopter. He earned a reputation among the Army, the Air Force and the Office of Secretary of Defense as a bright and dynamic aeronautical engineer officer who strove to place Army aviation on the best path for the future. He was recognized with his first Legion Merit.

In 1964 to 1966 as commander of the 3rd Aviation Battalion, one of the largest aviation units in West Germany and he earned his second Legion of Merit. In 1967 he was placed in command of the 13th Combat Aviation Battalion in Vietnamese IV Corp. While air assaulting the Vietnamese soldiers into battle against the Viet Cong across the Delta, he merged his battalion with all of the separate aviation units in the Delta into the 164th Combat Aviation Group. Fortuitously, the group activation in January 1968 occurred several weeks before the Battle of Tet, allowing unified Army aviation to apply overmatching force to crush the enemy at the major battle locations. During his combat aviation command, he was awarded the Silver Star, a third Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 42 air medals.

On his return to the Pentagon and duty in the 1968-74 period, Col. McDaniel joined the Office of Defense Development Research and Engineering, supporting Dr. Johnnie Foster, furthering the best vertical lift approaches to support the country in the long term. His staff responsibility included all DoD helicopter and transport airplane developments, as well as many surface transportation systems. His work led to the approval, management, and funding for several major helicopter and transport aircraft programs, including the UTTAS (Blackhawk), the AAH (Apache), the Joint Heavy Lift Helicopter (YCH-61), and the AMST (C17). He also led an international program for the interchange of technology for rotorcraft and VSTOL aircraft. Although McDaniel did not win all of the decisions, he did ensure that the competing options were heard. Upon retirement he was recognized with his fourth Legion of Merit.

After leaving the military, Col. McDaniel continued to provide analytic and engineering services to the Army, DARPA, and OSD, as well as service on the Army Science Board. Those services include the development of the Javelin Missile Guidance System. His assessment of the Comanche helicopter development contributed to the Army decision to terminate the $6B program and reallocate those resources to higher priority Army aviation needs.

He was an active and regular contributor to major technical and military journals including 13 articles in the American Helicopter Society, Vertiflite. He was reputed to have written a number of articles, under a non-de-plume, examining current and future Defense vertical lift activities for the Armed Forces Journal and other publications. He was active with the American Helicopter Society where he was known for challenging the University of Maryland students who presented papers monthly as part of an information exchange and mentoring program. In May 2012, the Society honored him with an award for a lifetime of dedication to the advancement of rotary wing aviation and placed him among their initial 150 Who's Who of rotorcraft pioneers and prime movers. That month, he also received the Order of St. Michael from the Army Aviation Association of America.

Col. McDaniel was a long-time Alexandria resident. He married his first wife, the former Rachel Ragle, while both served in Japan during its occupation. She was a decorated US Army Nurse, who served in WWII. She and Robert McDaniel had six children, and Rachel passed in 1983.

He married his second wife, Jean Hughes McDaniel, at West Point in 1995, with his

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