|Delaware, Hawaii, Georgia, Kansas, Washington D.C. (and possibly others)||Student|
|European||Company “A,” 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division|
|Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge||Operation Market Garden|
|Military Occupational Specialty|
Early Life & Family
John Wilson O’Daniel, Jr. was born at the Homeopathic Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, on the afternoon of July 16, 1925. He was the second child of John Wilson O’Daniel, Sr. (1894–1975) and Helen Ruth O’Daniel (née Bowman, 1893–1965), who were residing in nearby Newark at the time. He had an older sister, Ruth Anne O’Daniel (later Groesbeck and then Snyder, 1921–1999). O’Daniel’s mother and sister went by their middle names. His father had been nicknamed “Mike” in college, upgraded to “Iron Mike” during his military service. John W. O’Daniel, Sr. served in World War I and remained in the U.S. Army after the war. Like his father, the younger O’Daniel was nicknamed “Mike.”
As the son of a career military officer, John W. O’Daniel, Jr. moved several times during his childhood and at times was separated from his father. The historic record is not always clear about the periods of time that the entire family was together. In 1928, Captain O’Daniel transferred to the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. The O’Daniel family was recorded on the census on April 10, 1930, living in Honolulu.
The following month, on May 13, 1930, John W. O’Daniel, Jr., his mother, and sister sailed from Honolulu, arriving in San Francisco, California, six days later. It’s unclear where they settled. Captain O’Daniel returned to the mainland in 1931 and was assigned to the 12th Infantry Regiment at Fort Howard, Maryland.
John W. O’Daniel, Sr.’s biographer Tim Stoy stated that in 1933, Captain O’Daniel “reported to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and the 22nd Infantry. In 1934 his duty with the CCC started but it appears his headquarters were still at Oglethorpe so his family probably lived there.” Even after his promotion to major in 1935, the elder O’Daniel remained with the Civilian Conservation Corps until 1936 when, according to a 1945 War Department press release, “he became professor of military science and tactics at the Academy of Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia, leaving this post in 1938 to attend the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.”
John W. O’Daniel, Jr.’s niece, Brynn Spiegel, recalled that her mother went to school in Augusta and the younger O’Daniel appeared in a family photo of a group of boy scouts at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s unclear if the entire family traveled to the elder O’Daniel’s next assignment at Camp Brady, Michigan.
The younger O’Daniel—along with his mother and sister—were recorded on the census on April 4, 1940, living at 313 East Main Street in Newark, where his great-aunts Nellie and Etta Wilson lived—in the very house where John W. O’Daniel, Sr. had been born. It is likely that they had only recently arrived, because his high school yearbook stated that O’Daniel and another future paratrooper, Robert G. Allen, both arrived at Newark High School during their sophomore year.
During his sophomore year at Newark High School, O’Daniel was in the school band. He played football, basketball, and baseball during his junior and senior years. He also acted in the Senior Class play, “Footloose.” (Despite the name, it appears to have no connection with the later Kevin Bacon film.) In the page of class personalities, O’Daniel was named wittiest and (best) actor. The yearbook described him as “Equally friendly with everyone, his dramatic ability is remarkable. In addition, he is a marvelous dancer, a whiz with a gun, and full of humor.” O’Daniel graduated from high school in 1942. That same year, Colonel O’Daniel went overseas; the elder O’Daniel’s correspondence suggests that father and son never saw one another again.
O’Daniel registered for the draft on his 18th birthday, July 16, 1943. He was unemployed at the time. The registrar described him as standing five feet, 11¾ inches tall and weighing 145 lbs., with brown hair and eyes. At that point, O’Daniel’s father (now a brigadier general) was serving in the Mediterranean Theater, while his mother was living at 3621 Newark Street, Northwest in Washington, D.C. He must have moved there shortly thereafter, because after he was drafted, O’Daniel was recorded as a resident of Washington, D.C. Journal-Every Evening reported that O’Daniel “was attending Sullivan Military Academy” (a school in Washington D.C.) before entering the military.
Training Stateside & England
O’Daniel was inducted into the U.S. Army in Camden, New Jersey, on September 22, 1943. A State of Delaware Individual Military Service Record form filled out by O’Daniel’s mother in 1945 stated that Private O’Daniel began his training at Camp Croft, South Carolina, in November 1943. Camp Croft was an Infantry Replacement Training Center. O’Daniel’s mother wrote that her son was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia between March through June 1944 (which would have included a month of airborne school).
That summer, Private O’Daniel shipped out for the United Kingdom from the New York Port of Embarkation. He joined the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division via the 2nd Replacement Depot on July 18, 1944. At the time, the regiment was in Quorn, England, refitting after a month of combat during the Battle of Normandy. O’Daniel was assigned to Company “A,” part of 1st Battalion. His Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) was recorded as 745 (rifleman). An October 28, 1944, Journal-Every Evening article, alluding to the 505th as “a crack paratroop outfit” stated that “His most recent letters home expressed his delight with having become part of this unit.”
O’Daniel’s father, now a major general, was commanding the 3rd Infantry Division in Italy. Later that summer, the 3rd Infantry Division arrived in southern France during Operation Dragoon, bringing the prospect of a reunion in the coming months. It was not to be.
In a 1945 letter to Private O’Daniel’s father, 1st Sergeant William Donald McMurchy (1913–1988, who had been a staff sergeant during the summer of 1944) wrote of Private O’Daniel:
He joined our company about two months before our jump into Holland and it wasn’t long after he joined us that we found out that he was invaluable in the communication line. My late commander said we would keep him in company headquarters and that we did, so that briefly, is why I knew so much about John’s death.
Our acquaintance wasn’t too long but in that short time I had grown to like John very much mainly because I could depend on him at any time and that, as you know, is a prime requisite of a good soldier.
Although the regiment was training before their next assignment, Private O’Daniel did have some free time. Adam G. R. Berry wrote in his book, And Suddenly They Were Gone: An Oral and Pictorial History of the 82d Airborne Division in England February – September 1944,that Private O’Daniel dated a young woman (identified by the pseudonym “Mary Smith”) from the nearby town of Loughborough. Berry wrote that “They would spend much of their free time together when O’Daniel was allowed out of the camp, and when he disappeared from Quorn […] she felt lost without him.”
Operation Market Garden
The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s next mission—its fourth combat jump of the war—was Operation Market Garden. Compared with the Normandy operation, Market Garden had an extremely brief planning period in order to capitalize on battlefield conditions, with the German Army withdrawing from France and part of Belgium in the face of the rapid advance of Allied armies.
Allied objectives were bold. Market Garden represented not only the largest scale airborne operation launched up until that point, but also the deepest airborne penetration behind enemy lines that the Allies attempted in the European Theater during the entire war. Along with the American 101st Airborne Division, the British 1st Airborne Division, and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, the 82nd Airborne Division’s orders were to capture and hold bridges in the Netherlands, securing a route of advance for a British armored force moving north from the Belgian border. Doing so would allow Allied ground forces to bypass the German Siegfried Line (Westwall) and penetrate deep into the Ruhr, potentially shortening the war by months.
In his book, Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, Phil Nordyke wrote:
The 82nd Airborne Division’s assignment would be extremely complex, requiring aggressive execution. The division would jump fifty-three miles behind German lines to seize four major river bridges and five canal bridges, including both the longest single-span bridge (the Nijmegen highway bridge) and the longest bridge (Grave bridge) in all of Europe at that time. To protect the route of the British Second Army, the division would also seize high ground southeast of Nijmegen and landing zones (LZs) southeast and northeast of Groesbeek for glider landings. The frontage of the division’s area was enormous and the objectives ambitious. Only an elite veteran division could hope to accomplish the mission.
Although smaller bridges (like those over canals) could be rebuilt, if the Germans held or destroyed the larger bridges over any wide bodies of water (like the Waal or Rhine at Nijmegen and Arnhem respectively), Market Garden would fail.
Nordyke wrote that Private O’Daniel’s 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
would jump south of Groesbeek, capture the town and the high ground to the west, and establish blocking positions south and east of Groesbeek to protect against attacks from the Reichswald [area of Germany bordering the Nijmegen area to the east] and the Nijmegen-Gennep road.
Essentially, the 505th’s mission was to block German reinforcements from interfering with the Allied seizure of the narrow corridor passing through nearby Grave and Nijmegen and on to Arnhem.
On the morning of September 17, 1944, O’Daniel’s battalion boarded C-47 transport aircraft at Cottesmore in Rutland, England. Approaching the drop zone at low altitude, the C-47s encountered some antiaircraft fire. Aboard Private O’Daniel’s plane, the pilot activated a red light, the signal for paratroopers to standby to jump. A well-practiced sequence followed. At the command of the plane’s jumpmaster, Private O’Daniel would have stood, connected the static line of his parachute to the plane’s anchor cable, and checked both his equipment and that of the man in front of him. Above the drop zone, the light at the door turned green. Once the jumpmaster concurred that they were above the drop zone, he ordered the men to jump. The paratroopers exited the plane in quick succession, the static line opening their parachutes as they cleared the door. Private O’Daniel landed mere seconds after he jumped.
The daylight drop made the paratroopers more vulnerable to ground fire, but also made it far easier for them to assemble after landing than night jumps (used in previous operations) had been. The 505th paratroopers neutralized German forces near the drop zones, set up roadblocks, seized important terrain, and dug in. The attack achieved surprise, though the Germans were quick to respond.
Combat Near Nijmegen
On the second day of Operation Market Garden, September 18, 1944, men from another company in Private O’Daniel’s battalion (Company “B”) captured Mook, a small town on the Meuse River. The Germans launched a particularly strong counterattack on September 20, recapturing most of Mook. Company “B” paratroopers tenaciously held onto part of the town even as the Germans pushed past them and continued north, threatening the vital Heumen bridge. Company “A,” including Private O’Daniel, moved quickly to assist.
Sergeant McMurchy wrote later to Private O’Daniel’s father:
We met very strong opposition about 2000 yards from town in the form of dug in Germans with strong machine gun implacements. [sic] Our third platoon got cut off from us and the company [commander] immediately threw company headquarters into the fight, which, under the circumstances was the only thing he could do. We were advancing in single file down a little draw when a new machine gun nest opened up on us from the flank. At this point John and I were completely cut off from the rest of the company. We talked it over and decided the only thing we could do was to be quiet and hope for the best. On thinking it over later on I think the Heinies had us spotted cause they just peppered our position with fire. After it subsided a little I looked over at John and noticed he wasn’t moving so I crawled over to him and he said he was hit high in the chest. I did what I could for him Sir, but he was going fast and John knew it.
His last words were – “Sarge, tell Dad I tried damn hard won’t you.” I promised him that I would tell you but I had hopes of being able to tell you in person. It’s a simple but sincere message Sir, but I know John meant it from the bottom of his heart.
The American paratroopers, supported by tanks and infantry from the British Coldstream Guards, drove the Germans out of Mook and into retreat. Although Nijmegen was secured (with Nijmegen road bridge seized following a daring river assault the same day, September 20, 1944), Operation Market Garden was ultimately a failure. German forces eventually overwhelmed British paratroopers at Arnhem, and the operation failed to provide the route into Germany that so many died trying to achieve.
Burial & Honors
On October 7, 1944, Private O’Daniel was buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery Molenhoek in the Netherlands (Plot E, Row 1, Grave 8). The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment S-1 journal recorded at 1610 hours that day that “Lt. Stone ret[urned] to CP [Command Post] and reported he had found and buried the body of Pvt O’Daniel, Co A who was MIA since Sept 20th[.]”
According to a document in Private O’Daniel’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (I.D.P.F.), Major General O’Daniel delivered four items to the cemetery to be placed with his son’s body: “one (1) Silver Star Citation, one (1) Combat Infantry[man] Badge, one (1) Third Division shoulder patch, and one (1) family photograph.” See the Notes section for further discussion of the Silver Star Medal.
In a November 9, 1944 response to a condolence letter from Major General Lowell W. Rooks, Major General O’Daniel wrote: “It has been tough losing the young fellow. However, such are the misfortunes of war and should be expected. I am grateful though, that if he had to go, he went as he did ––– attacking the enemy.”
General O’Daniel’s biographer Tim Stoy wrote that Private O’Daniel’s “death hit the whole family quite hard but Iron Mike used it to push himself even harder to kill Germans and end the war.”
In 1947, the O’Daniels learned that Molenhoek was not going to be a permanent cemetery. They agonized about what to do next. Mrs. O’Daniel wrote the 82nd Airborne Division commanding officer, Major General James M. Gavin, telling him: “It would really grieve me to have Mike moved.” In the end, General O’Daniel requested that his son’s body remain buried overseas at a permanent cemetery.
Private O’Daniel’s body was disinterred on June 18, 1948. The four items that General O’Daniel delivered were placed with Private O’Daniel’s body before he was reburied on December 1, 1948, at the U.S. Military Cemetery Margraten, now known as the Netherlands American Cemetery (Plot A, Row 21, Grave 1).
Lieutenant General O’Daniel retired in 1955.
Adam Berry wrote in And Suddenly They Were Gone that O’Daniel’s girlfriend recalled that:
In the post war years she was contacted by his family after they discovered letters sent between the two and it was at this point that she found out that his father was a very high ranking General in the US Army. […] O’Daniel Sr thanked Mary for her friendship to his son, and in making his final months spent in the free world an enjoyable time. O’Daniel Sr died on March 27th, 1975, and had continued to correspond with Mary up until his death.
O’Daniel’s Mother’s Statement
The Individual Military Service Record filled out by Private O’Daniel’s mother has a number of discrepancies. It gave his place of birth as Newark. Although the O’Daniel family was residing there at the time, his birth certificate establishes his place of birth as the Homeopathic Hospital in Wilmington. His draft card also gave Wilmington as his place of birth.
His mother also stated that he joined the U.S. Army in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 14, 1943, rather than Camden, New Jersey three weeks earlier. Other Newark men drafted into the U.S. Army were inducted in Camden, so I believe that is probably correct. The Adjutant General’s Office report of death also stated that Private O’Daniel entered the military on September 22, 1943. In other cases, I’ve found discrepancies of a few weeks in the date a draftee began his service was because he was inducted in one city and then permitted to return home for a few days or weeks prior to going on active duty. However, I have no specific evidence that this was the case in this instance.
The Individual Military Service Record recorded a date of death of September 18, 1944, (which may be based on 1st Sergeant McMurchy’s letter). The unit O’Daniel’s mother listed (506th Parachute Infantry Regiment) is also inaccurate.
Silver Star Medal
According to his mother, Private O’Daniel was decorated with the Silver Star Medal and General O’Daniel requested that a Silver Star Medal citation be placed with his son’s body. However, I have been unable to confirm this decoration. There is no indication that he was a recipient based on 82nd Airborne Division General Orders. Likewise, the Purple Heart is the only decoration listed on his headstone inscription and interment record form.
General O’Daniel was a Silver Star recipient himself and the citation theoretically could have been one of his. However, Private O’Daniel’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (I.D.P.F.) includes a document written by Major General O’Daniel:
This belongs to John W. O’Daniel Jr., buried here. Please see that it goes with him wherever his body is placed.
I have made many awards and I feel that I have a right to make them to my son, who was killed in action and who I know has a fighting heart.
Although undated, it was on 3rd Infantry Division letterhead, so it must have been written in 1944 or 1945, and it presumably accompanied the personal items that General O’Daniel asked to be placed with his son’s body. The somewhat defensive wording of the second paragraph might suggest that General O’Daniel awarded Private O’Daniel the Silver Star on his own authority. Whether or not General O’Daniel was actually entitled to do that for a soldier serving outside his own division, it’s clear that officials did acquiesce having the citation be buried with Private O’Daniel.
Mary Smith Memories
The recollections of O’Daniel’s British girlfriend referred to as “Mary Smith” in Adam Berry’s And Suddenly They Were Gone do have some errors. She recalled that O’Daniel was friends with a “Pvt Stuart E Ambler of G. Company” and participated in the Battle of Normandy before returning to England and resuming their relationship. In fact, Private O’Daniel did not join the unit until after Normandy.
I was able to obtain information about Ambler (actually Private 1st Class Stewart Edward Ambler, 1917–1991) and his military career from his son. Although it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that he and O’Daniel crossed paths, it seems unlikely. Ambler was from California and graduated from airborne school nearly two years before O’Daniel, on July 27, 1942. Private Ambler was wounded in Normandy on June 17, 1944. He was evacuated to the United States on July 10, 1944, about a week before Private O’Daniel joined the regiment.
Date of Death
Sergeant McMurchy’s letter indicated that Private O’Daniel was killed in action on September 18, 1944, during an attack on the town of Mook:
We jumped into Holland on the 17th of September, as you probably know, and our company was immediately thrown into reserve which only lasted until noon the next day when orders were received to attack and take the town of Mook, which is about ten miles south of Nijmegen. The taking of the town was to be done without artillery support outside of mortars, which was the only thing we had at the time.
On the other hand, the Adjutant General’s Office report of death gave Private O’Daniel’s death as September 20, 1944. A 505th after action report indicates that a Company “B” easily captured the town of Mook on September 18 without casualties. Recorded Company “A” casualties were also light that day.
My best guess is that McMurchy’s letter described events of September 20, not September 18. 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment historian Phil Nordyke concurred with that assessment, writing that Company “A” was in reserve until September 20, not September 18.
There is no evidence that Company “A” was involved in an attack on Mook on September 18. That suggests that Sergeant McMurchy in fact described events that occurred two days later, when Company “A” came to the aid of Company “B” in Mook. Additional evidence is that Private O’Daniel’s documented date of death was September 20, 1944, and the fact that Company “A” casualties were considerably higher on September 20 than they had been on the 18th. However, though it is well documented that 1st and 2nd Platoons, Company “A” fought in Mook on September 20, I have been unable to find any specific account of Company Headquarters being committed to the fight. Of course, McMurchy recalled that Private O’Daniel was killed about a mile outside of town.
Cause of Death
There is no particular reason to doubt Sergeant McMurchy’s account of the way Private O’Daniel died. Even before General O’Daniel got McMurchy’s letter, he wrote to Major General Lowell W. Rooks on November 9, 1944 that “I was informed that he was struck down with a machine pistol while advancing on the morning of September 20th near Modk, [sic] Holland, and died immediately.”
Regardless, there is one discrepancy. A digitized hospital admission card under Private O’Daniel’s service number states that he was killed by shell fragments to the face rather than machine gun fire to the chest. These cards were filled out even in the case of soldiers who, like Private O’Daniel, died prior to reaching medical treatment. If card is wrong, it could have been the result of a mistake in entry or when it was digitized, or because the person filling it out misunderstood the nature of his wounds.
Transcription of 1st Sergeant William Donald McMurchy Letter
Dear General O’Daniel,
I just returned from furlough and found your letter of the 11th May waiting for me. It is useless for me to say that writing you about John was one of my first jobs when I got back.
I am starting the story of John’s career with my old company from the beginning so you will know as much about him as any father is entitled to know. He joined our company about two months before our jump into Holland and it wasn’t long after he joined us that we found out that he was invaluable in the communication line. My late commander said we would keep him in company headquarters and that we did, so that briefly, is why I knew so much about John’s death.
We jumped into Holland on the 17th of September, as you probably know, and our company was immediately thrown into reserve which only lasted until noon the next day when orders were received to attack and take the town of Mook, which is about ten miles south of Nijmigen. [sic] The taking of the town was to be done without artillery support outside of mortars, which was the only thing we had at the time. We met very strong opposition about 2000 yards from town in the form of dug in Germans with strong machine gun implacements. [sic] Our third platoon got cut off from us and the company CC [Company Commander, sic] immediately threw company headquarters into the fight, which, under the circumstances was the only thing he could do. We were advancing in single file down a little draw when a new machine gun nest opened up on us from the flank. At this point John and I were completely cut off from the rest of the company. We talked it over and decided the only thing we could do was to be quiet and hope for the best. On thinking it over later on I think the Heinies had us spotted cause they just peppered our position with fire. After it subsided a little I looked over at John and noticed he wasn’t moving so I crawled over to him and he said he was hit high in the chest. I did what I could for him Sir, but he was going fast and John knew it.
His last words were – “Sarge, tell Dad I tried damn hard won’t you.” I promised him that I would tell you but I had hopes of being able to tell you in person. It’s a simple but sincere message Sir, but I know John meant it from the bottom of his heart. Our acquaintance wasn’t too long but in that short time I had grown to like John very much mainly because I could depend on him at any time and that, as you know, is a prime requisite of a good soldier. Please accept my sympathy in your and may I add our loss of a good son and soldier.
I was wounded myself about two weeks later but I am coming along fine now. If there is anything further you would like to know Sir I would be only to glad to be of service.
This piece was particularly challenging and a great many people assisted me during nearly a year of research. Special thanks to Tim Stoy and Adam Berry, as well as Private O’Daniel’s niece Brynn Spiegel and nephew Peter H. Groesbeck for information, photos, and documents about General O’Daniel and Private O’Daniel. Thanks also go to Dennis Victor Dupras, Thulaï van Maanen, Phil Nordyke, and Frits Janssen for their help sorting out some of the contradictory details of O’Daniel’s final battle. Finally, thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photos.
“Anne Odaniel.” U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007. Ancestry.com. https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/45833057:60901
Berry, Adam G. R. And Suddenly They Were Gone: An Oral and Pictorial History of the 82d Airborne Division in England February – September 1944. Overlord Publishing, 2015.
“General J. W. O’Daniel With Fifth Army.” Wilmington Morning News, May 31, 1944. Pg. 10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76380472/odaniel-paratrooper-training/
Headstone Inscription and Interment Records for U.S. Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942–1949. Record Group 117, Records of the American Battle Monuments Commission, 1918–ca. 1995. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9170/images/42861_646933_0807-00922
John W. O’Daniel, Jr. Individual Deceased Personnel File. National Archives.
John Wilson O’Daniel, Jr. certificate of birth. Record Group 1500-008-094, Birth certificates. Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.
Krawen 1942. Courtesy of the Newark History Museum.
Nordyke, Phil. Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II. Zenith Press, 2010.
O’Daniel, Helen R. John Wilson O’Daniel, Jr. Individual Military Service Record, September 28, 1945. Delaware Public Archives.
Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, California. Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7949/images/CAM1410_263-0625
Press Releases and Related Records, compiled 1942–1945. Record Group 337, Records of Headquarters Army Ground Forces, 1916–1956. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/3026/images/40445_2421402106_0609-00295
Ritchie, Sebastian. Arnhem Myth and Reality: Airborne Warfare, Air Power and the Failure of Operation Market Garden. Robert Hale, 2011.
“Soldier Son Of General Is Missing.” Journal-Every Evening, October 28, 1944. Pg. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76379446/odaniel-mia/
Stoy, Tim. Email correspondence April 8–9, 2021.
United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4661340_00569
United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00546-00278
U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942–1954. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/86661471/world-war-ii-army-enlistment-records-john-w-odaniel-jr
“Weddings Miss Ruth Anne O’Daniel [and] Lieut. Harvey P. Groesbeck.” Wilmington Morning News, October 24, 1944. Pg. 8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/68235897/ruth-anne-odaniel-marriage/
World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/86661471/world-war-ii-army-enlistment-records-john-w-odaniel-jr
WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_06_00006-01722
Last updated on September 3, 2022
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2 thoughts on “Private John W. O’Daniel, Jr. (1925–1944)”
William D. McMurchy is my grandfather! I am one of only three grandchildren that he had as my mother is his only child. My grandfather never really recovered from his war wounds and he died full of shrapnel just before I graduated from high school in 1988. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in the 82nd Airborne. I would love to know if you learned any more about him. The words you printed here are the most I have ever heard about my grandfather’s service in WW2. He didn’t talk about it much and I was too you g and dumb to ask better questions before he passed. Thank you for this account of a man he cared for in dying. My grandfather was a loyal and loving man. Thank you for bringing him alive for me once again.
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Thanks for reaching out. I am hoping to learn a bit more about his story as well one day.
The only thing I could suggest in the meantime is to make an inquiry on some of the airborne-related Facebook groups, as there remains a very strong interest in paratroopers in particular. Many of these enthusiasts have archival documents and other useful information. Two in particular are WW2 US Airborne Group Page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/992827027458561) and 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment – World War II (https://www.facebook.com/groups/131645680211437). You can also each out to The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II (https://www.facebook.com/Researching82ndinww2). Good luck!