Dr. John L. McDaniel was born in Guin, Alabama on September 13, 1918 and graduated from Berry College in Georgia in 1939. Later he was awarded honorary doctorates from Athens State College and from Auburn University.
He began his career in 1942 when he accepted a position with the U.S. Army Chemical Corps at Huntsville Arsenal, Alabama. While assigned there, he designed, modified, and performed maintenance for chemical production and shell and bomb loading equipment.
After the war, when chemical related activities were reduced, Dr. McDaniel accepted a position with the newly formed Ordnance Rocket Center at Redstone Arsenal where he helped develop several highly successful weapons systems such as Pershing, Little John, Honest John, LAW, Safeguard, and Lance. Through his excellent leadership abilities and uncanny foresight, Dr. McDaniel formulated the Army Missile Plan.
This plan, the first of its type in the Army, is now utilized as a dynamic model by the Department of the Army developing agencies for allocating research and exploratory development resources to satisfy future needs. From the moment the laser semiactive guidance system was demonstrated in Dr. McDaniel's organization, it was recognized as the platform for a whole family of highly accurate Army weapons. These so-called “smart” bombs established an overwhelming accuracy rate in air-to-ground warfare in Southeast Asia.
His chemical background provided a firm basis for further development of Army systems. Among these were the Pershing solid propellant and new fluorine compounds. In the early 60’s, his organization introduced the capabilities of a guided missile to intercept and destroy opposing missiles. These firsts were achieved time and time again and demonstrated his excellence in scientific and managerial fields. His accomplishments have been praised by his contemporaries and superiors in the research and development field.