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Sun, Jun 27, 2004

RIP: WWII Veteran James Daniels III

Only pilot in the air the day war started and off Tokyo Harbor as war was ending

The Associated Press reports that Capt. James Daniels III, USN (Ret.), a veteran of WWII and one of only three pilots who very nearly were shot down by friendly fire hours after the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, has passed away at age 88.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton, during a speech at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, mentioned Daniels as the only pilot who was flying when World War II started, and also off Tokyo Harbor when the war was ending in 1945.

Daniels was one of six pilots cleared to land at Ford Island after returning from a search for the Japanese attack fleet in 1941. Even though the arrival of the aircraft had been announced repeatedly to all ships in Pearl Harbor, many sailors panicked when they heard the aircraft approaching. They then proceeded to shoot down five of them -- only Daniels' airplane survived.

Daniels logged some 4,500 hours during World War II and in Korea, mostly as an attack carrier pilot. He completed 110 combat missions, and retired in 1970 after 33 years of service. He was the Legion of Merit with Gold Star and Combat V, the Distinguished Flying Cross and six Air Medals.

FMI: www.ap.org

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