UT Dallas President Emeritus Dr. David Daniel Shares D-Day History with McDermott Library

The Eugene McDermott Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division has a new piece of D-Day history, thanks to UT Dallas President Emeritus Dr. David E. Daniel. Because the University is near and dear to Dr. Daniel’s heart, the former president chose the UT Dallas Library to be home to historical artifacts collected by his father after his military career and involvement in the Allied Invasion of Normandy, also known as D-Day.

“This collection is a prize for us and we are very grateful to Dr. Daniel for entrusting it to the McDermott Library and allowing it to be a part of our aviation collection,” said Dr. Ellen Safley, dean of the Eugene McDermott Library. “This very special collection sheds even more light on one of the most important events in our history, and we are so appreciative for Dr. Daniel for making a commitment to making these materials accessible to our patrons and helping preserve history.”

The collection includes a pilot logbook, a photograph and articles, forever preserving the former president’s father’s role in the allied invasion on June 6, 1944, the biggest and most significant military campaign in history that toppled the barbarous Nazi regime.


Dr. David Daniel showing pictures from his father military career.

Dr. Daniel happily discusses the history behind his generous donation.


Daniel’s father, Lt. Col. David E. Daniel, was the 87th Squadron commander and led thousands of paratroopers that landed in Normandy on the eve of D-Day. Painted on the C-47 that Daniel piloted was a message to Adolf Hitler: “That’s All, Brother.” In his pilot logbook where he noted the day’s mission on June 5, Daniel simply wrote: “Led invasion of France.”

“I wasn’t sure what to do with all of these things that my dad kept. I thought about giving them to the group that bought the actual airplane that he flew. However, they’re photos, newspaper and a logbook, and they are more about history than a particular airplane. I am a lot more passionate about UT Dallas than just about anything else, and since the university library has an aviation collection, I’d much rather give it to UTD,” said Daniel, who served as the fourth president of UT Dallas from 2005 to 2015.


Special Collections & Archives Curator of Aviation Archives Patrizia Nava examines one of the donated pieces.


The collection, which has been digitized by library staff, is contained in one box and includes a photograph of Lt. Col. Daniel and his flagship crew shortly before and after their mission flight in front of their airplane and articles from The Birmingham Post and The Birmingham Age-Herald about Daniel’s life and him piloting the first plane that led the Normandy Invasion.

The Steele’s Senior Pilot Logbook describes Daniel’s flight training at Hicks Field, Texas as well as all his flight missions during World War II. Of particular interest are his entries from June 5, 1944 through June 4, 1945 starting from “Led invasion of France” through “Sightseeing the invasion coast.” The book contains numerous entries in the “remarks” section commenting on current events and personal impressions.

See this and many other special historical collections at the History of Aviation Archives located at 3020 Synergy Park North (SP2), Suite 11.206.

Page Last Updated: July 8, 2019