A Vet's Story: Bill Daniels

Bill Daniels on the wing of a Grumman F8F Bearcat.

Bill Daniels on the wing of a Grumman F8F Bearcat.

As a pioneer in cable television, Robert W. “Bill” Daniels left a large footprint on the landscape of Colorado business and industry after a distinguished career as a Naval aviator. Bill was born in Greeley, Colorado, in 1920. As a child, Bill and the Daniels family moved to Nebraska and Iowa, eventually settling in New Mexico. Bill excelled at the New Mexico Military Institute and was New Mexico’s Golden Gloves welterweight boxing champion two years in a row.

After high school, he enrolled in the Navy’s V-7 program, fast-tracking his training and allowing him to enter the Navy as a pilot in just 11 months. As a combat pilot, he flew a Grumman F4F Wildcat in the Allied Invasion of North Africa in 1942 and a Chance Vought Corsair in the Solomon Islands area of the Pacific theatre in 1943.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for “heroism, courage, and devotion to duty,” making repeated trips to rescue wounded shipmates after a Japanese kamikaze attack on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid in November 1944. After war, he returned to private life, only to serve again during the Korean War, piloting a Grumman F9 Panther.

After the Korean War, he became one of the first people to get into the long-distance television broadcast business by setting up a microwave feed of local Denver broadcasting to Casper, Wyoming, where it was distributed through his cable television network. He expanded into the brokering and financing side of the cable television business, with Daniels and Associates becoming one of the largest firms in the field by the mid-1960s. By 1988, Daniels’ cable network was ranked among the top 25 multiple system operators in the United States.

Daniels, with his boxing background, retained a love of sports. Among the many sports interests he pursued, Daniels was co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as the American Basketball Association’s president. Daniels was very philanthropic, creating the Young American’s Bank and working with the University of Denver to integrate courses in business ethics, personal integrity, and values into the university’s business curriculum; the business school there now carries Daniels’ name. In 1997, Daniels created the Daniels Fund to invest in nonprofits throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming (including the Honor Bell Foundation), as well as provide scholarships to college students in those states.

Bill believed that his wealth was best spent leaving a legacy and making a difference.  He served his country as a young man and later in life made a remarkable contribution to his community with his philanthropy and support of education.

 

A letter from our director

Khloee Ortiz smiles at her dad Staff Sgt. Cesar Ortiz just before his departure to Afghanistan in 2011.  Source

Khloee Ortiz smiles at her dad Staff Sgt. Cesar Ortiz just before his departure to Afghanistan in 2011. Source

This Wednesday, millions of Americans will celebrate Veterans Day. This is a moment to honor all of the men and women who answered the call to serve in defense of our country. As General George S. Patton, Jr. said, “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”

At the Honor Bell Foundation, we believe it is the highest obligation of our country to honor our citizen veterans at their time of death. Unfortunately, that is not always able to be accomplished by our military.

Veterans, recognized at a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks there.  Source

Veterans, recognized at a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks there. Source

For many vets, their funerals may be the only time they’ve received thanks from their country and community. This is seen in the vets from Vietnam, who did their duty with courage and valor, returning to a nation that had its back turned. This is seen in the vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, many of whom struggle with the invisible illness of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, making it hard for them to fully integrate and participate in civilian life. And this is seen in the vets from World War II and Korea, who, because of government cutbacks, are being buried in record numbers without the honors that are their due.

The Honor Bell Foundation was created to honor all veterans: calling them to perform a noble service, and honoring those who have died with the seven solemn tolls of the Honor Bell. This one-thousand-pound instrument is well on its way to being cast and ready for service in early 2016, to create a historic legacy for all who have served and sacrificed for our country.

Soldiers and family members of deceased members of the Military Intelligence Service, the 100th Infantry Bn., and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team receiving their Congressional Gold Medals at a ceremony in 2012.  Source .

Soldiers and family members of deceased members of the Military Intelligence Service, the 100th Infantry Bn., and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team receiving their Congressional Gold Medals at a ceremony in 2012. Source.

When the Honor Bell is commissioned, the history of Colorado’s fallen service members will be forged within it. We will place military badges, medals, and dog tags from every branch of service into the molten bronze when it is cast, making the bell truly “forged from honor.” We are asking for your help in locating appropriate artifacts from our state’s military heritage for inclusion into the Honor Bell. The artifacts should represent all branches of our nation’s military and come from deceased Colorado service members. Currently, we have three artifacts committed to the bell: the military dog tags from Marine Private First Class Andrew G. Riedel, an item from Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Chris Falkel, and an item from legendary Colorado businessman Bill Daniels, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. We would be honored to include items from any service member, from any conflict. If you have an artifact to donate, please fill out this short form and we will contact you.

There are other ways you can help to honor our nation’s veterans. By supporting the Honor Bell’s mission with a donation, or, if you are a veteran, by participating in the Bell Honor Guard. But perhaps the most important way you can honor those who have served and sacrificed is to thank a veteran for their service, and take a moment to be proud of all those who protect our nation.

Yours in patriotism,

 

Louis Olivera

Executive Director