Auburn News

A Screaming Eagle’s Story

H. Clayton Daniel ’47, is a World War II veteran and member of the 101st Airborne Division (the “Screaming Eagles,” a different kind of “War Eagle”). HBO’s Band of Brothers, a realistic miniseries that was based on a book of the same name by author and historian Stephen E. Ambrose, has helped bring the 101st back to the world’s attention.

Daniel was an ROTC student at Alabama Polytechnic Institute. He was a member of an engineer battalion when he went overseas to fight in 1943, but he would become an infantry member on a fateful night in December of 1944. Daniel fought in what would later be known by all as “The Battle of the Bulge.”

Daniel’s company took on fire from all sides as they rushed to set up camp in a field in Bastogne, Belgium. Snow was falling all around Daniel. The temperatures were dropping dangerously below zero, and without giving it much thought, Daniel turned and started returning fire toward enemy forces.

The next day the weather finally cleared up, and then the Air Force showed up to bring relief to Daniel and the rest of his company. He was then able to take cover in an old stone church. That same church was later struck by a bomb dropped by the German Luftwaffe.

The next morning, Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army showed up to bring much needed relief to the American troops, and ultimately Bastogne was blockaded. In February of 1945, while working to build a footbridge, Daniel’s battalion took on German mortar fire, and he was struck by several pieces of a mortar shell.

The fighting Daniel did would ultimately earn him a Purple Heart. He would later return to API to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in engineering.

This 90-year-old member of the greatest generation currently lives in Niceville, Fla., where he still remains very active.

We will all be eternally thankful for 2nd Lt. Daniel and all of the WWII veterans’ service to this great country!