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Eugene McDaniel is a former American POW from the Vietnam War. He was released from captivity on March 4, 1973, after 6 years of confinement.
Eugene "Red" McDaniel was shot down while flying his A-6 Intruder aircraft. He was listed as "missing in action" until 1970, when the Hanoi government acknowledged that he was being held prisoner.
When Red McDaniel returned home from Vietnam, he was awarded the Navy's second highest award 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 the North Vietnamese torturers.
Captain McDaniel resumed active duty and served as Commanding Officer of USS Niagara Falls (AFS-3) and Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16). Under his command, Lexington experienced no serious accidents while accomplishing more than 20,000 carrier landings.
Red McDaniel served as Director of Navy/Marine Corps Liaison to the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1981. In this capacity, Captain McDaniel worked daily with Congress on national defense planning and provided legislators with information vital to the strategic development of Navy forces throughout the world. He retired from the Navy in 1982.
McDaniel subsequently became involved in the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, leading to a "grassroots campaign to focus attention on American servicemen still missing in Southeast Asia."
Today, Captain "Red" McDaniel is President of the American Defense Institute, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. He founded ADI to increase public awareness of the need for a strong national defense.
Red McDaniel was one of the most brutally tortured prisoners of the Vietnam War. This torture resulted from his active role in camp communications during an organized escape attempt by his fellow prisoners. He is the author of Scars and Stripes, a book telling about his six years in a communist prison.
While Captain McDaniel was commander of the Lexington, Gerard Bianco was commissioned by the Navy to go aboard and paint the most exciting thing he found. Bianco chose to paint the Captain, a war hero. The portrait hangs in the U.S. Navy Museum in Washington, D.C.
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