By Allen Shaw, Fort Wainwright PAOOctober 8, 2010
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - COL Edward B. Daly, Deputy Commanding Officer of the United States Army Alaska, is retiring from the military at the end of this year. Daly was recently honored at a retirement ceremony befitting an all-American warrior. Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Last Frontier Community and Activity Center Sept. 28 to applaud the stellar career of a Soldier. Eddiy, as he likes to be called, is as unique as the spelling of his first name. "My parents wanted me to have my own identity," he said. Daly always wanted to be a Soldier. He comes from long lineage of military service. He joined the Army in 1974 when he was 17 years-old. "It was senior picture day," Daly said. "I took the recruiter to my house and asked my father to sign the papers right then and there." After basic training he served as an infantry squad leader and later platoon sergeant with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany. He remembers the days of riding around in Sheridan tanks, wearing olive-drab fatigues, steel-pot helmets and firing M16 A-1 rifles. "The barracks were open bays back then with 4 to a room and there was a lot of sergeant action," he said. "There were eyes on everyone all the time. We didn\'t have internet, we didn't have cell phones, so you tended to form up as a unit, the guys from your tank or your room. We'd travel together and always had each other's back." There is a list of individuals Daly considered mentors who influenced him tremendously. At the top of a very distinguished list was his first company commander, CPT Clinton J. Ancker III. "I remember as a young Soldier, there were always a few of these guys in the unit who would get things done no matter how messed up things got. They did what they were supposed to do and the more I worked with those people, the more I wanted to be part of that team," Daly said. Ancker was one of those individuals. "It was Thanksgiving in Germany. I was a PFC driving a gun jeep for the cavalry and it was my job to put the 'horses' away, that's what we called the vehicles. Everyone leaves me after the Border Patrol mission and heads to the mess hall. I'm the last guy, checking the oil and topping off the fuel tanks, while everyone else is warm, enjoying turkey. I finished my job and went to the Company Dining Facility kicking dirt and there at the doorway was the company commander. He said, 'Come on, we've been waiting on you' and I thought what, the whole company is waiting on me, PFC Daly' He walked me in the door and there was this big Thanksgiving event going on. Some had started to eat. All the tables were full and I was kind of stunned. This captain was waiting on a PFC and says, 'I got a spot saved for you in the kitchen.' He's got a milk carton on the end, he's got this table cloth, he's got a plate there and I'm stunned that he's doing this. His wife, Mrs. Ancker, was there with the family. It's Thanksgiving in Germany, 1975, and I never thought anyone would ever do something like this for me. Mrs. Ancker then asked me which part of the turkey I preferred. I told her at home I like the turkey leg. So CPT Ancker gives me the turkey leg," Daly said. "This guy really cared about people. When we were getting ready to go to war he was hard, he always maintained a high standard. This guy was hard and fair. I realized then, that's the kind of guy I wanted to be." Daly became a corporal and a sergeant and then decided to become an officer. He was accepted into the Reserve Officer Training Corps and graduated in 1982. During the summer of 1979 at an ROTC summer camp he met Dawn, his wife of 30 years. She is the daughter of a migrant potato farmer, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and became a naturalized American citizen. She went to Johns Hopkins University, graduated and was appointed a transportation officer in the United States Army. She rose to the rank of Major, is a retired Army officer and continues to be involved with Soldiers and families every day. Mrs. Daly recently received the prestigious Secretary of the Army Public Service Award and a certificate of appreciation signed by the Chief of Staff of the Army for her many years of dedicated service. "I take it as a compliment every time someone says, "Oh you're Dawn's husband. She is a very special person." he said. The Daly's have two children, Josh, 23, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and 2nd Lt. in the United States Marine Corps, and Eva, 21, a senior at the United States Coast Guard Academy. During his thirty-seven year military career Daly accomplished much, but is most proud of his paratrooper wings. "My father was a paratrooper with the airborne back in the day and I always wanted to be a paratrooper. My son is a paratrooper, my wife went to airborne school and so did my brother. In our family that is what we do. Everything else I did was just to accept the challenge," he said. Daly's laundry list of accomplishments and schools includes Ranger, Special Forces, Pathfinder, Air Assault, Combat Diver, Military Freefall and Jumpmaster. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Soldier's Medal, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Master Parachutist Badge with Combat Jump Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge (2nd Award). Of all his ribbons, he is most proud of the Soldier's Medal which he received in 2002. "I had gotten my pilot's license when I was a sergeant at Fort Campbell and have always kept it current," he said, "one weekend I was a jump- pilot and had four jumpers on board. We were flying at ten-thousand feet and one of them got hung up on the airplane wheel by his pants leg as he jumped. He pulled the plane over to the side every time he tried to free himself. Every time I tried to get the plane level, he would almost hit the propeller. He was being towed behind like an anchor, so the plane started coming down in a circle. I'm sitting in the only seat, the pilot's seat, trying to figure out what to do. I got down on the floor on one knee and tried to reach to cut him loose but I couldn't stretch that far and keep a hand on the control. The plane was not spiraling but it was working its way down. I went back to the seat and back to the floor trying to cut this guy off while keeping control of the plane. As the altimeter went to six-thousand feet I knew I had to do something or this plane was going down. I said a quick prayer, 'Saint Michael what do I do now'" I then decided to leave the seat, rolled onto my stomach, spread my legs out and pulled myself out of the airplane, holding myself in by my feet. I had my head up against the strut and started cutting the guy's pant leg as fast as I could. He was hanging from his jumpsuit tangled on the wheel. At twenty-five hundred feet he came off, I looked back up inside the airplane because the plane is going down, grabbed onto the seatbelt and pulled myself in. I took the stick and pulled it back, trying to gain control when the plane stalled. I then jumped back into the seat, got the engine going and pulled it out. That was a big one there," Daly said, "I just remember I had to do something to get that guy off the plane. The humorous thing is that when I landed on the grass strip and the plane was shaking, I was mad. I thought the guy bent my wheel or bent the strut. It turned out it wasn't the plane; it was me shaking so much. The U.S. Air Force Air War College leadership nominated me for the Soldier's Medal and the Secretary of the Army presented it to me at the Pentagon." Daly held many key leadership roles throughout his career, and is extremely proud of his time as Deputy Commander of USARAK, as well as Commander, Afghan Regional Security Command - North, Task Force Phoenix in Afghanistan and Operation Shaheen Sahara. Another was for the positive changes made while Commander of the Basic Training Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Miss. "At the time, Daly said, "there was an attrition rate of twenty-four to twenty-seven percent with new recruits. Something had to change. With the approval of Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Randal Castro and people like CSM Tim Mullins, we began changing the 'my way or the highway' attitude among drill sergeants. I asked them to forget about the hat (the drill) and think more about the sergeant. We continued to train with stress and vigor; we just concentrated more on the people. We developed a company called the Warrior University, took care of Soldiers with injuries or difficulties and put them back into the system when they were able. In the past, they would often get shoved away. I wanted our sergeants to coach, teach and mentor." Sgt. Major Tim Mullins, currently the Fort Wainwright Department of Public Works, sergeant major, said Daly often said "Sergeants just need to be sergeants." "Often we had noncommissioned officers who worried about things outside their responsibilities, complaining about their work load or hours; shortage of personnel and the list went on," Mullins said. "Col. Daly would tell them to lead from the front, set the example for others to follow and train Soldiers correctly because they might return to your ranks some day. Col. Daly told us, 'We need to train every Soldier as if he or she was our own child and headed off to combat tomorrow'." "There's no doubt I will miss the Army," Daly said. "I met some incredible and wonderful people." One of the funniest stories was his chance encounter with Johnny Cash. "When I was a platoon sergeant at Fort Campbell, Ky, one of my assignments was to fly to Little Rock, Ark., one weekend a month to work with a local National Guard unit. A guy named Sgt. Reinhardt and I would drive to Nashville, catch a plane and then fly home," he said. "One weekend we were running late so Reinhardt and I took off down this airport hallway. He's a little ahead of me. He goes around the corner and I hear this commotion. I rounded the corner and there right in front of me was Johnny Cash, on his butt. He was a huge man who was looking right at my chest while he was on the ground. There he was, dressed in black. Johnny Cash then points his finger at me and said, 'you two need to slow the hell down.' I looked at him, asked if I could help him up and with an imposing glare he said, 'get the hell away from me'." During the retirement ceremony, the audience enjoyed a video of Daly's many military triumphs, jumping out of airplanes and diving under the sea. Commanding general of USARAK, Brig. Gen. Raymond P. Palumbo asked those in the room, "Don't you think Eddiy just had way too much fun in the Army'" Dawn and Eddiy will remain in Alaska. Daly's immediate plans are working on the house and spending more time as a volunteer flight and glider instructor with the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force that assists with search and relief efforts. As Daly steps away from the uniform, he leaves with one of his favorite quotes. He said, "To whom much is given, much is expected." He also recommends that every Soldier in a leadership role read the Anton Myrer novel, 'Once an Eagle. ' "For Soldiers," Daly said, "just give the Army a chance. It's an opportunity for a great career; it has the answers. It will help you further your education and be successful. The Army will help you with your problems. The Army will be there through the good stuff and the bad if you give it a chance." He said, "Always keep a sergeant between you and the problem, whether you're an officer or a private," he added. "It is an awesome responsibility, but the sergeant has that opportunity to influence and provide a positive impression. There's a term we use in the Army, 'sergeant up' and it is not used lightly. The sergeant is the key to problem-solving and communication." As a closing note, Daly said, "The best way to be successful in the Army is to always seek balance. There needs to be an even mixture of duty, family and spirituality. There are those times when you need to realize the Army isn't everything and it's important to become centered to stay grounded."