Family of missing Korean War soldier presented with father’s dog tag

Matt Saintsing
August 08, 2018 - 5:39 pm

Photo By Matt Saintsing

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Charles Jr. and Larry McDaniel never knew their father, a career Army medic who served in Europe during World War II and later in Korea where he went missing.  Charles Jr. was just three years old when his father shipped off to the Korean War in August 1950, it was the last time he ever saw his dad. 

“I didn’t think about the emotions that were very deep even though I was a small boy and have very little memory of my father,” said Charles Jr. “I sat there and cried for a while.” 

Among the 55 recently received boxes of what is hoped to contain the remains of American war dead lost in North Korea was a single dog tag. It belonged to Army Master Sgt. Charles Hobert McDaniel, their father.

Photo by Matt Saintsing

The dog tag was presented to the brothers at an emotionally powerful ceremony in Arlington, Va. Wednesday. 

McDaniel was assigned to the 3rd battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division when his element was deep inside North Korean territory on November 2, 1950. His element came under surprise attack by enemy forces, and, according to officials, was not among the American survivors who escaped. There is no evidence that McDaniel was ever captured or held the prisoner, but was killed in action, according to one eyewitness account. 

Despite having little memory of his father, Charles Jr. followed in his footsteps and became a soldier himself, first as a Green Beret with the 6th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, and later as a chaplain. He served a total of 34 years in the U.S. Army. 

“He’s an Army guy, I’m an Army guy,” he said. 

Charles’ younger brother, Larry, said he was able to cobble together a picture of the kind of guy his dad was through interactions with his mother and others. “He loved the country enough that he was able to dedicate his entire life for the country without hesitation,” said Larry. 

It’s yet to be seen whether any of the remains handed over by North Korea will be their father’s, but for now, the dog tag seems to offer a bit of closure to a chapter that was left open for decades. “Of all these boxes that came back and out of all of these thousands of people that are (missing in action), we’re the only ones that have certitude,” said Charles, Jr. 

“We’re just overwhelmed, I am.” 

Officials with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency stressed that the dog tag does not automatically indicate that McDaniel’s remains are among those returned by North Korea. 

But to help with the search, Larry offered a DNA swab test to determine if any of the remains are a match. 

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