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NORTH PORT | Incredible escape: Honoring historic WWII hero captured at Normandy and escaped to make history

WWII Veteran Edward Daniel receives Tomb of the Unknown Badge
Posted at 10:46 AM, Nov 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-09 22:22:16-05

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Leading into Veteran's Day, Tidewell Hospice honored 45 veterans, and among the veterans honored was a solider who served in World War II.

Master Seregent William Edward Daniel isn't just a veteran, he was a veteran who was captured at Normandy.

Fox 4's Briana Brownlee had incredible one hour conversation with his widow and son and they shared how their late hero was captured, escaped, reenlisted and made history .

“You see it in the movies, the PT boats," said Carlyon Daniel, as she held a photo of D-Day.

Widow of WWII veteran holds photo of D-day

It's one of the most known photos in America history and the largest seaborne invasion in history—and Carlyon said her husband was on one of those boats.

Carylon refers to her husband as Ed and said not long after the invasion at Normandy, Ed and his unit went out looking for food.

“And when doing that he was captured by the enemy," Carylon said. "He saw Hitler many times."

WWII Veteran William Edward Daniel

Captured and taken to a concentration camp, Ed became a prisoner of war for more than a year, working under the orders of Adolf Hitler.

“He was told to bury the people who was coming out of the oven," Carylon said.

Fast forward to September of 1945, Germany already surrendered, then finally Japan—but for American soldiers like Ed in Captivity, no one told them the war was over and they were free.

Then one day while Ed was doing his daily chore of burying bodies...

"He saw this bicycle from the woods and he thought if I run right now I can get free," Carylon said.

And Ed did just that.

He pedaled and pedaled until he was rescued by the United States Army. Exhausted and suffering from starvation, he spent 90 days recovering in the hospital.

WWII veteran William Edward Daniel

“It was like he was coming back from the dead," Carylon said.

After going through what has mentally broken many soldiers throughout history, Ed recovered and went home to his family. However, he didn't stay home for long.

Despite being captured, forced to work in concentration camps and escaping—Ed made the brave decision to reenlist to go back and serve his country.

"Yes, that’s how he got all of these medals," Carylon said.

Not just any medal, Ed was the first solider in history to receive the Tomb of the Unknown Solider Badge, one of the rarest badges the United States Army awards.

WWII Veteran's Tomb of the Unknown Solider

“He helped developed the walk of the unknown solider," said Ed's son.

“In fact him and another guy wrote the book on the procedure," added Carylon.

Ed started as a poor boy helping his dad on their farm, but developed into a Master Sergeant and is remembered as an historic figure in America history.

However for Carylon she said the memory she holds the closes of her late hero is the way they harmonized and connected through music.

WWII Veteran with his widow

“He had a huge accomplishment for the guitar and I loved music," Carylon said. "I love to sing and he loved to sing. He had a strong soprano voice.”

After Ed retired he kept busy by teaching ROTC in the State of Virginia. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 85.

Master Sergeant William Edward Daniel's headstone

Carylon said he was an amazing man who lived a full life.

For this year's Veteran's Day, the Tidwell Hospice honored him with yet another pin.